Well, well, well.....The gang over at Stickam has certainly been busy. Yesterday they launched a brand new site design and for the first time they did it without the dreaded and much bitched about planned service outages that have been used in the past. This of course led to much....
It was a tough night Wednesday night as the changes began to be implemented. Users found themselves suddenly forced out of live rooms and had a difficult time logging back in. Some experienced problems with their Flash players (Here's a tip DO NO update to the most recent Flash player if you are a frequent Stickam user. As of this writing there are compatibility issues) not refreshing and not playing sounds. The new interface became "live" on Thursday and the problems (and the bitching) continued with URL errors and some users were unable to log in to view their pages, or make changes to their embedded players. Today however it appears that most of the problems have been resolved. I clicked every available link and all directed me to the appropriate page, quickly. The one notable exception is the Stickam forum which is no longer part of the main navigation but can still be located through a small link on the page footers. The Forum still display a Under Maintenance.
Let's discuss the visuals.....
All in all I think I like the look. It seems to compact a lot of information into a small space and do it pretty efficiently. According to the Stickam blog.....
In an effort to better organize the current site, Stickam will be getting a major face lift tomorrow. The site will be categorized into 4 different sections.
1. Social – Everyone’s hangout
2. Show – Formerly known as the creator account
3. Music – Homepage for musicians
4. Radio – Homepage for radio stations and DJs
So current entertainers need to take a look at the new categories and make certain that they are indeed put into the proper categories. There are "application" links under the SHOW, MUSIC, RADIO tabs that will allow new users (and presumably existing users) to apply to have their shows categorized the way they want and to be eligible to be featured on the corresponding page. I think this effort will do much to settle some of the competition complaints for those users who felt they were not given opportunities to be featured.
On my first exploration it appears that the redesign is more about efficiency than it is about adding features. This is ok because Stickam has been rolling out new features at a pretty good clip as of late. They've added Live Description, Email verification, a new player, age restriction and Subscription capabilities all in the last 2 months. It's this last feature Subscription capabilities which gets a new twist with the redesign. Under each category you can now get a listing of not only the most watched shows but also the most subscribed shows. The numbers for subscribers is quite eye opening in that they are for the most part REALLY low. This may be a sign that the feature was the desire of a small number of Stickam users and isn't being adopted by the wider base.
Another nice feature is a Schedule of upcoming shows under each tab. In particular under the SHOWS heading Adam Paranoia with a daily run down of featured shows called Picks of the Day and in an attempt to begin to leverage the vast quantity of UGC (User Generated Content) from the Media Gallery it gets it own tab and videos by users who are slotted in to each category are being featured on each page!
So what's the verdict?
The same as it is with any UPDATE....wait and see. Graphically I like the look. Functionally I believe it will eventually shake things out amongst users and they will settle in to a favorite place...but I would still like to see Stickam make greater strides toward better video quality (ala BlogTV) higher customization (Whats with the MySpace "approved only photo links" only and restricted java capabilities approach it was douche-baggery when they did it and its the same here) and above all better and more reliable streaming. I know its a "you get what you pay for" thing but I would pay (and so would lots of your "Entertainers") if we could rely on the medium as a tool for connecting with new and existing audiences without lag, pixelated pictures and with the ability customize players either at the API level or with scripts.