There will be some changes coming to the blog in the near future. No-one seems to like change, so I thought I would run these past everyone first. Some ideas are pretty minor cosmetic tweaks, others much more fundamental. I’ll start with what is definitely going to happen and move on to some ideas I am very seriously considering, including a type of paywall.
New payment software to allow purchase and management of multiple user ‘child’ accounts, useful for a medium or larger firm to pay for and manage multiple accounts for staff. I hope to get this installed this coming Friday afternoon, which might involve some down time for the forum and perhaps the main blog.
Simplify the look of the blog into two columns from the existing three. This will involve merging the update streams (cases, Twitter, policy, news) into one mixed stream. In tandem, post links to BAILII cases on the main blog with very short explanations of what the case is about, removing the need for users to check the update stream for cases. Information will be more accessible and the design less cluttered. Weed out some of the subpages and generally try and make useful information more accessible.
Rotate header images for other symbols of free movement than just geese, introducing some fresher colours. The geese would be joined by some whales, buffalo, swallows, locusts and so on.
Use new more colourful theme to allow for better differentiated post types (normal, link, status, quote, video). I intend to start using more links on the main blog, particularly for cases that are interesting but which don’t get a full write up on the main blog.
Metered paywall restricting free access to, say, 15 page views per month before a subscription is necessary. Forum users will have blog access included with their subscription. Others will need to purchase a subscription. Anyone can purchase such a subscription and prices will be £25 per year for single access (forum access included for those who are eligible) and £50 per year for up to 20 log ins. The intention is to be generous with the free access allowance so that the public, HOPOs, Treasury counsel and solicitors, shy immigration judges and others can still access the content without a subscription but heavy users of the content on the blog will, I hope, want to subscribe. Free access might be squeezed depending on access. There might also be some blog posts which are restricted to subscribers – technical legal ones, perhaps. See rationale below.
Emails would have to be managed differently and would no longer include the full text of a blog post. They would be truncated with a ‘read more’ link to the complete blog post.
Desirable but a bit tricky
New forum software with a new look forum, hopefully with the existing forum posts imported into it. Failing that the existing forum posts will be separately archived and remain available. Research into this is at an early stage.
Simple native apps for iOS and Android providing easier access on the go to updates from the blog. But integrating forum functionality is a bit of a pipe dream.
The design changes are I hope self explanatory. I can see from what links are clicked that some parts of the site get little attention and want to rationalise those bits and either give them more prominence or do away with them. Also, frankly, the blog has periodically changed its look in the past and I’m a bit bored with the current set up, which more or less dates to 2010.
The reason a paywall is being so seriously considered is that the blog simply takes up too much of my time, which now that I have a family I have come to realise is a very precious and finite resource. I hope to be able to employ a part time assistant, which will free up time for the important parts of managing and writing the blog.
I hope that the blog has become a useful resource in the immigration sector – but it has its costs (monetary and otherwise) and so far I have borne those mainly myself.