All About Our Classic Website
If you're someone who loves using our Classic website, then this info is especially for you! In brief, we're planning to shut down our old website by the end of the year. We understand that many of our loyal fans won't be happy about this, so it's very important for us to give you some answers.
That being said, I, Jens Schmidt, as the founder of ROMEO would like to properly address your concerns and give you comprehensive answers to questions you may have.
Is there really a need for a new website?
The old structure and technology of Classic has, without a doubt, served our Romeos well over the past years. But, it comes from the early internet days (2002) and is, as such, extremely outdated. Technologies have changed substantially with the coming of the smartphone revolution. This may or may not be a good thing for some, but the fact remains that we need to adapt.
We didn't just want to develop an app for iOS and Android, because this would mean being dependent on two companies that have a decidedly prudish attitude towards sexuality compared to European standards. We've actually encountered problems with this in the past, where erotic images were suddenly not okay, (e.g., a guy wearing swimming trunks but not on a beach, or a guy in underwear with a slightly visible penis line, etc.) Sexuality certainly plays a different role for our users, and our vision of a liberal gay community, where everyone can be who they are, doesn't take place at Disneyland.
After being kicked out of the App Store for the umpteenth time, we conducted a survey among our members. For those of you who have been with us for some time, you may even remember it. We asked you all whether we should go forward with just a website, or continue with just the apps. Eighty-three percent (83%) responded that they didn't like the prudishness of the App Store content guidelines, and wanted a website which was compatible with all devices (computer and mobile). We were pleased with that result, despite that it meant double development costs.
3 Ways to a New Website
One thing I can say for sure is that there have been many long meetings with heated discussions. The result of these conversations basically turned up 3 options:
- We build a completely new website from scratch from top to bottom. Then one day, we just turn off the old website, migrate the data, and turn on the new website. This would have been the fastest and technically the cleanest option. However, the risk would have been too great that things wouldn't have worked properly.
- That we gradually rebuild our website until it was "new". This may sound logical, but almost impossible to afford. The technology has changed so much in the meantime, that comparatively speaking, it would have been more like new wallpaper rather than a complete remodel. It would have meant many complex open heart surgeries and the result wouldn't have been any different than building a new website from scratch, only more costly.
- We build a new website which runs in parallel to the Classic one. This allowed us to develop features and quietly test them in a live environment without compromising the old site. When it's all finished, we could then turn off the old Classic website. We found this to be by far the best choice for our members and a good compromise between options 1 and 2.
Why do we want to switch off Classic?
Although most users know that there is a new website, many ask why we don't just keep Classic running. We don't actually have to switch Classic off because the cost of running it "passively" isn't really a problem. However, we do want to switch it off for a good reason. Here's why: Both websites and apps currently access the same technical infrastructure (e.g., databases, APIs, etc.) so users can see profiles and chat on either website or in the apps seamlessly. This means however, that any new future development could create a potential conflict with Classic. Features could break, leading to massive irritations and problems. Imagine the frustration of only seeing a particular profile or your chats on one platform, but not on another. This is already the case with "picture liking". If someone "likes" your picture in the app or on the new website, you don't see that in Classic. In time, this would only get worse running it "passively". It would be like you are going blind, not being able to see what's going on, and for other users you would disappear. For the long term, and in the interest of all users, it just doesn't make sense.
So, although we could technically still keep Classic alive, it would take considerable effort to make it possible. They say, nothing is impossible, but for a small company like ours, just because it's possible doesn't make it affordable. We'd still be limited and virtually paralyzed with respect to further development.
A Few Facts
Users often ask how many people are still using Classic. The distribution of the average percentage of logged in users per day by platform has changed in Germany from the beginning of 2017 to July 2018: Classic (41% »» 22%), iOS (20% »» 22%), Android & Uncut (27% »» 28%), The New Website (12% »» 28%). The ratio of increase has been similar for Austria and Switzerland. For all other countries, Classic usage is well below 5% of the users.
What is the future of Clubs?
Clubs is what we consider a core function that is still missing in the new website. They will of course continue to exist! Going forward they will be called "Groups" and more information can be found here. After development of Groups is completed (around October), we will briefly pause development to evaluate, how many users are still using Classic and why. I ask for your patience and understanding when I say, we will not migrate Group features 1:1. Instead we'll conduct an interim survey first to see what is really important and/or missing. When exactly we turn off Classic will depend on your feedback. My rough estimate would be by the end of 2018, or the beginning of 2019.
With that, I would like to thank you all who have read this far. Even if you agree or disagree with all of our reasoning, we hope you it gives a better understanding of our thought process. Rest assured that your opinion is important to us and we'll do everything we can to make the move as effortless and painless as possible. We'll keep you updated.
Founder & CEO