At EECI earlier this month, I ran into Ryan Battles of Jovia Web Studio. Ryan, along with Andy Johnson of Shaping the Page, designed and developed the latest website for the burgeoning EE community: Director-ee.
When I first saw Director-ee I was struck by the gorgeous design but left wondering where it fits in and the idea behind it. So, during my conversation with Ryan at EECI, I told him that and invited him and Andy to do an interview here at EE Insider.
Interview with Ryan Battles and Andy Johnson
Q. Let’s start with the basics. What is Director-ee?
Andy: It’s an easy way for ExpressionEngine developers and designers to find and get to know each other better. We’d look for other EE users on Twitter and in the forums, and thought that it would be nice if there was a central location for the community to gather.
Ryan: With sites like Devot:ee, Show-ee, Train-ee, and EE Insider already providing various third-party services to the community, we noticed that nobody was focusing on individual profiles. We wanted to create something that would have that focus and mesh well with these other sites.
The site is gorgeous. Who’s responsible for the design and development?
Ryan: Andy is the mastermind behind the design, and I was spearheading the development. We had been brainstorming this project for a while and one Monday he fired up Photoshop and showed me what he had been working on over the weekend. When I saw the elegance of his design, a fire was immediately lit. We gave ourselves deadlines and launched the site less than a month later, just in time for EECI2010 in San Francisco.
Andy: I just reworked a Geocities template that I use for all my clients.
From what I can tell, almost 300 EE professionals added themselves to Director-ee. Has the reception surprised you?
Andy: Yes, we have been surprised. We didn’t really know what to expect, but we just knew that it would be fun to do, regardless of the response. But we’re happy so many people have been enjoying the site!
Ryan: I was excited when we had three members, and had no clue that it would grow this big so fast. We have found that the number of members raise some scalability issues. For example, our new Google maps feature has to place pins on the map for everyone registered on the site. As soon as we hit 22 members we had to completely rewrite that programming because Google was limiting us to a certain number of API calls at once. It certainly has been a learning experience as we go along.
Why should someone sign up with Director-ee?
Andy: If you want to make it easier for other EE professionals to find you, it’s a good way to go. It also gives you a place to promote your shameless plugs to the rest of the community.
Ryan: We were just looking for a service that would benefit the community, and posting a member profile provides links back to your own site, an opportunity to tell the world about yourself, and just a tool to find out who else lives near you, has the same interests, etc.
Are you aiming to make Director-ee a third party version of the official ExpressionEngine Pro Network?
Andy: Our intent isn’t to replace the Pro Network. Director-ee is more about connecting people WITHIN the community, rather than connecting companies with clients. We might have some of those features in the future, but our first priority is helping individuals within the EE community connect with one another.
Ryan: While we were inspired by some of the features that we wanted to see in the Pro Network, like Andy said, we realized that our target audience was going to be individuals within the community, not companies, and not clients. This makes us fundamentally different from the Pro Network.
Do you have any plans to commercialize the site with premium services?
Andy: We’re not sure. At this point we’d like to keep as many services as possible free for our members.
Ryan: From the beginning our goal has always been to simply make something awesome, that people will love. If we can successfully do that, then we can worry about finding a way to monetize it. We truly have no official plans to charge for anything on the site, and if we ever do, it will be in the spirit of providing a quality service to the ExpressionEngine community.
Thank you to Ryan and Andy for taking the time to answer the questions and share their vision, inspiration and thoughts on Director-ee. If you haven’t signed up yet, it’s free. So, what are you waiting for?