My next three articles will be a series that focuses heavily on specific ways that paysite owners can optimize the user experience and how to present sites and content in ways that attract modern customers and keep them coming back. This starts with thinking about streamlining and how to repurpose your current paysite assets to make them fit within the constraint of what online users have grown accustomed to.
I believe in the importance of thinking ahead and of principle of the seven-P sentence: Prior proper planning prevents piss poor performance.
Your goal should always be to maintain your paysites as a business with an infrastructure that sets you up to compete in today’s market and also to be able to scale and grow and to adapt to changes.
My goal for this series is to cut out most of the fluff and give you the information you’re after in a no-nonsense format. The first in the series, this article is about paysite technology. Here are the nuts and bolts:
You should be using technology as much as possible and should be doing very little by hand. With modern CMS systems like Elevated X and others that are designed specifically for building and managing paysites there’s no reason for you to spend time on web content related tasks. Your site should be more or less running itself, from watermarking, encoding, converting and resizing videos to resizing, filtering and thumbnailing photos and updating every aspect of your site, including its tours while you sleep.
Single Media Formats
At this stage in the game you should only be offering H.264 MP4 video in HD and have nice big videos for on-site streaming and/or downloading if you offer downloads. If piracy is a concern or you want to incentivize members to renew, go streaming only and don’t offer downloads.
Device Appropriate Video
You should have multiple sizes of MP4 video intended for fast playback on smaller screens for mobile users.
Device Compatible Video Delivery
At this point most sites are using some version of a Flash player. This works fine since most players can play MP4 files and the behavior is the same as it was with Flash video which is good for end users since it looks the same to them as it has for years. Your site should also have device detection for the purpose of displaying HTML5 video in a browser for users on tablets and devices that only support this type of viewing. Failing to do this means some customers will be unable to see your videos so this functionality is a must-have in today’s market.
Adaptive Media Playback
This is not a must have but if you truly want to cater to your customers you should consider using delivery methods (or a CMS like Elevated X that has this feature) that will auto-detect a viewer’s bandwidth limits and deliver the appropriate speed video for optimal streaming playback on a desktop, iPad, iPhone or any IOS device. This eliminates the need for links to low, medium and high speed videos and makes it easy for the customer to come to the site and watch a video that will play well. If the user wants to see the HD quality format, they still have the option.
Mobile And Tablet
We’ve moved far beyond “mobile friendly” being acceptable and with mobile use on the rise to the extent that it’s accounting for a big percentage of web use, true mobile compatibility is a must-have. This means your site must look and function just as well for someone on a phone as someone on a desktop computer. Having your design work on a phone doesn’t cut it. Your site should look good and be easy to navigate, easy to read and easy to access for a phone user without zooming and scrolling to see things. A lot of site owners skimp here to save money and it’s a huge mistake.
You don’t need a separate site design for tablets as the larger ones will display your standard format site and look pretty good. Smaller ones like the Kindle and iPad mini can benefit from some level of responsive design as they’re in between full tablet and phones when it comes to screen real estate. With Elevated X site templates, our mobile version template is responsive and the same design loads for mobile and tablet users and scales accordingly. This is ideal but not required. I do, however, suggest use of a mobile optimized design for phone users if you don’t go the responsive tablet/mobile route.
This is not a must-have but there are tools out there in the form of site management software that have an array of features you can take advantage of to convert more sales. An extension of site management automation, you can manipulate the user experience on tours and landing pages to encourage purchasing. This can be done by simple means like only allowing visitors to view a certain number of trailers or more advanced schemes that offer free passwords good for limited site previews where once logged in, someone can only watch or download a certain number of full movies before being required to pay for membership. With Elevated X clients I always suggest that features like the above are used subtly. When used in conjunction with a well-designed tour, the results are impressive.
Tie In to Social Media
Your site should at bare minimum have a link to follow you on social sites and at best, should have automated methods that allow you to post to and from sites like Twitter and Facebook every time your site updates or have your site update every time you post a tweet or status update.
Solid Web Hosting and Site Backups
Web hosting is mission critical. There’s nothing wrong with shopping for deals but always try to work with a reputable adult web host that has a good public presence and a strong track record for happy paysite customers. It’s important to work with a hosting company familiar with the type of site you’re running and the technologies you’re using whether it’s CMS software or shopping carts or tube scripts. The last thing you want is to watch your host scrambling to fix things only to suffer downtime because they’re not familiar with what you’re using and have to get past a learning curve to install and configure things on your server.
Frequent full backups are an absolute must. I’ve seen a number of sites lost and a few small businesses wiped out entirely over the years due to not having sufficient site and data backups or no backups at all. There’s no excuse for not having a hosted, remote or cloud backup of your site and data so it can be restored quickly if disaster strikes in the form of a fire, flood, a hacking or a hardware failure.
Last but certainly not least, this one is last for a reason. Security is seldom overlooked by site owners but I feel it belongs on the list. At minimum you want to prevent password sharing, bulk downloading of content and site attacks in the form of various site and login form hacks. I suggest use of a dedicated site security script that covers the above and more. There are a handful of good ones out there priced both per single domain and monthly server licenses covering multiple sites.
Your goal should always be to maintain your paysites as a business with an infrastructure that sets you up to compete in today’s market and also to be able to scale and grow and to adapt to changes over the next few years without any major restructuring, expenditure or big development work.
This should serve as a starting point for your site streamlining and will set you up well to be able to adapt quickly over the next three to five years.
AJ Hall is a 13-year adult industry veteran and the co-founder and CEO of Elevated X Inc., a provider of popular adult CMS software for the online adult entertainment industry. Elevated X powers more than 2,000 leading adult sites, has been nominated for industry awards 11 times and won the 2012 and 2014 XBIZ Award for Software Company of the Year.