Author Archive

Update: Changing “Newest DVDs” to “Recommended DVDs”

I just want to add an update to my last post.



While I still feel adding “Recommended DVDs” was a good change (as seen by an increase in our download numbers), I don’t wish to alienate the many members who want to see the latest content. So we’re going to change the home page to show:

  • Recommended DVDs
  • Recently Popular DVDs
  • Latest DVDs



We’ll tweak the “recently popular” calculation to emphasize newer content. That way, “recently popular” will change a lot, while still selecting for quality.



Also, we’ve verified that many custom clips fail if you download all the way to the end of the scene. We have a fix for this problem.



All of these changes should go out soon (within a week or so).



Thanks,



Josh

Changing “Newest DVDs” to “Recommended DVDs”

As many of you noticed, last week we changed the top content bin on the home page from “Newest DVDs” to “Recommended DVDs”. I’m writing this post to give some background on this decision.



First, I want to apologize about making this change without any communication. I know we made it confusing and less convenient for many people whose usage pattern is to check out the latest content.



So why did we make this change? A couple big reasons:


We want to display more relevant content



We have an archive of over 13,000 movies. Chances are, the last 5 DVDs added to the site will not appeal to you as much as 5 that we can recommend algorithmically.



Our recommendation algorithm is pretty good (though I think it can be a lot better). For one thing, it automatically chooses videos that you haven’t seen before. With over 13,000 DVDs, no one has seen more than a fraction of our library (that’s over 2 years of continuous 24/7 porn watching).



Our metrics confirm an increase in relevancy: after one week, we’ve seen a 9% increase in downloads since we promoted recommended over newest DVDs.




The world is *gasp* running low on new porn



There’s less porn being made these days. And much of it cannot be licensed without putting the content into designated premium channels.



Historically, our value proposition has been strongly linked to “5 new DVDs a day”. Because of changes to the external market, we can’t keep adding 5 DVDs a day forever.



So we need to reframe our value proposition to be more about overall quality of content that you experience, rather than simply what’s new.



I want to thank you for your patience and for being part of this site.
So far, there’s been an increase in downloads without an increase in cancellations, so I feel like these changes are moving us in the right direction. And things should only get better by improving our recommendations.



Thank you,
Josh

Introducing VB PlayDates

playdates

Hey guys,



We’ve just launched a new site called VB PlayDates, and we’d love to get your feedback.



What is VB PlayDates?



VB PlayDates is a cams site where you can play games with girls.



You can play casual games, like checkers or pool. You can also share in adult activities, like watching porn together.



VB PlayDates is powered by a partner company called StripVille. We’ve worked to integrate our billing systems (just like with the existing VBCams site), so you don’t have to enter your credit card again.



Why did you create this site?



Adult social interaction is a growing space. You get a powerful thrill chatting with a real girl that non-interactive videos just can’t deliver.



But we didn’t want to just create another cam site. We wanted to create something new.



On most cam sites, you’re talking to girls in Eastern Europe or the Philippines, so language differences limit your interaction. Also, it’s unnatural to jump into a conversation with someone you’ve never met.



With VB PlayDates, most of the girls are American, and you can just play games with them, and allow a rapport to build organically.



That’s the idea, but it’s totally new and we’d love feedback.



What kind of feedback do you want?



At a basic level, what do you think of the site? Are you running into bugs? Usability issues? Did you like watching porn with the girls? How about the games?



At a deeper level, what do you think of the concept? What kind of adult social interaction would interest you?

Try VB PlayDates

Thanks,



- Josh

New Improvements to VB3

Hey guys,



We just launched several improvements to VB3.



The biggest change is searching now fills in options as you type



search



Other changes include:

  • You can remove items from your stash in the same window you add them.
  • Link to “scenes from your favorite stars” off the home page.
  • Link to “recently viewed scenes” off the home page.
  • You can now start playing the scene at time 0 when hovering over the thumbnail on the browse page.
  • The info pop up when you hover over a thumbnail includes buttons to play, download, and stash directly from the browse page.
  • We added a “play entire movie” button on the DVD pages.
  • Various performance enhancements.



Please let me know if you’re seeing any bugs. Thanks, and I hope you enjoy these changes.



- Josh

Flow Mode your Stars

There’s been a lot of talk about VB2 features missing in VB3 (and we’re bringing many of those back), so I wanted to share one of my new favorite ways of watching porn that’s only available on VB3.



If you add a bunch of stars to your favorites, you can watch all their scenes (sliced up into random moments) in flow mode. Here’s how you do it:



1) Go to the star page of your favorite stars, and add to stash:



fm1



2) Repeat step 1 for all your stars. I’ve got 58 stars in my list.



3) Go to your star stash folder, and click “watch in flow mode”:



fm1



Sit back and enjoy :)


Those 58 stars are in almost 4000 scenes, so this technique gives you lots of porn tailored to your taste.

A Week after VB3’s Launch

I’d like to share some numbers, thoughts, and next steps that have emerged since launching VB3 last week.


Numbers



Conversion Rate



VB3 has improved our conversion rate of visitors to members by over 30%, and our cancellations have held steady. This is a dramatic improvement.



Before the launch of VB3, we were shrinking. Now, we are growing again.



Site Usage



Roughly 15% of our customers continue to use VB2 (i.e., they explicitly click “back to old site”).


Thoughts



We Have a Passionate Community



I started this company in 2002, and I’ve always strived to treat customers as I wanted to be treated. My goal was to create the world’s best site, one that people were happy to join.



When we launched VB3, we received a lot of negative feedback. I took this feedback – much of it from our most loyal customers – very personally.



There was a lot of internal debate on how to interpret all the messages we were receiving from our members. On one hand, we were getting more negative than positive feedback. On the other, the total number of people who complained was less than 1% of our members.



You Can’t Please Everyone



We have tens of thousands of members, and their tastes vary. There were also internal team dynamics and interests of content partners to consider.



What we ended up doing was spending the last few months ironing out the quirks in VB3, and making the site work more like VB2. The new site works pretty much like the old one. We considered doing a comprehensive redesign, but no one wanted to go through another 6-12 months of development time.


Next Steps



Continue to Improve VB3



Now that we’re past the painful hurdle of launching the new site, we’re going to keep improving it. In two weeks, you should see:

  • Big changes to how search works.
  • Fixes to the stash, such as the ability to add and remove items easily.
  • Various performance improvements.



And looking beyond the next two weeks, expect to see a mobile / iPad optimized site.



Keep VB2 Around



We will continue to maintain VB2 for a while, at least until usage drops to single digit percentages.



Thanks,
Josh

VB3 will be the new default, VB2 will stick around for a while

Hey guys,



I just want to let you know that on Aug 31, www.videobox.com will resolve to the new VB3 site.



I know many of you have negative feelings toward VB3, but I’d like you to keep in mind:


  • We plan to keep the current VideoBox around for the near future, and
  • We will continue to improve VB3. Next big improvement is a significant overhaul of our search functionality.



Since the original launch of VB3, we have simplified its layout to look more like VB2. We have fixed lots of bugs (especially around the stash and performance). And we have introduced the “flow mode” feature (my personal favorite).



And we’re just getting started. I’m sorry for the bumpy road, but I hope you enjoy what lies ahead.



- Josh

Fixes to stash on VB3

Hey guys,



We’ve fixed a few bugs with VB3’s stash feature. It should be working much better now.



So please try it out and let us know if you’re still having problems.



Also, check out watching your stash in flow mode. Just go to any stash folder, and click the “Watch in Flow Mode” button. It works particularly well when you flow mode your favorite stars :)

Members to be redirected to VB3 upon login

Hey guys,



On July 20, we will start redirecting members to VB3 when they log in.



You’ll still be able to use the current site for the next few months. To get back to the current site, just click the “back to old site” link in the header.



Please let us know if you’re experiencing problems with VB3, or if there are features from the current site that you’d like to see in VB3.



Thanks, and happy surfing :)



- Josh



Edit:



I want to share some thoughts to address the negative sentiments expressed in the comments.



Man up and admit you and your team missed the mark


As much as I hate to admit it, there’s a lot of truth to this comment. But it’s not true that we “just don’t give a shit” about our users. To the contrary, I personally read every comment, and feedback is routinely circulated among the entire team. If I could rewind the clock by a year, I would have done things differently. To explain how we got here requires a little back story.



How to stand out in a sea of look-alike porn sites


The design motivation behind VB3 was to be different, to have a personality that distinguished VideoBox from all the other sites. So we created a distinct look. We started building social features, like the avatars. We added power user features, like chicklets and a preview player. We created funny parody videos with Ron Jeremy.



And then we launched, and some people really liked it. But a lot didn’t, and we realized for the most part our customers don’t want cool brand and personality. They want a simple easy-to-use site.



So then why not just throw it away?


The current VideoBox is built on an overly complex tech stack, and the code has grown over the years to be almost impossible to maintain.



VB3 was under development for about 8 months, and during this time we rewrote a lot of the code to be simpler and more flexible. We can work on it more easily, and VB3 can handle different types of content (like scenes from Kink.com that aren’t part of DVDs).



So then what is your plan?


Over the last few months, we redesigned parts of VB3 so that it’s more familiar to users of the current site. You should be able to do just about everything on VB3 that you can do on the current site, along with some new stuff (like Flow Mode and Air Play and browsing thumbnails in a liquid layout that fills up your browser).



To the extent that there are missing features, bugs, or slow performance: we can fix that.



We will likely not change the overall look and big glossy buttons any time soon. Any comprehensive redesign will take 3-6 months.



Why not just put this money into better content?


Content is a whole other topic deserving a longer treatment, but we’re actually spending about 2x per title as we did a few years ago. With the proliferation of free porn, content producers have been going out of business. There’s less being made these days.



The reason why we’ve been building “premium content channels” is they let us access new sources of content that are unavailable unless we charge more and share the revenue. We want to lower the price for premium channels, but that’s an ongoing negotiation with the content owners.



Why are you launching it now?


There are two main motivators for launching VB3:


  • We spend a lot of time maintaining the VB2 code base. We want to get everyone on to VB3 so that we can press forward with new initiatives.
  • Our licensing deals with Kink and Reality Kings are in danger of being withdrawn if we don’t launch soon.



So to recap, we took a risk with VB3 and the results fell short of expectations. We’ve taken the last few months to make the VB3 member experience better, and we will continue to do so. For engineering and licensing reasons, we want to get everyone over to VB3 as soon as possible *and then* polish the user experience so that you’re happy with it.



Thanks for reading,



- Josh

Re-Launch of VB3

A few months ago, we released the first version of VB3. And while some liked the powerful new features of VB3, we also received negative feedback on how the new site broke familiar patterns people had grown accustomed to on the current version of VideoBox.

Well, we listened to your feedback. We’ve redesigned and simplified large sections of VB3. Please take a look, and let us know your thoughts.


Try the new VB3



Overview of the changes


  • We simplified the Movie, Scene and Clip pages, making them look more like they do on the current VideoBox.
  • We made the movie detail page look more like it does on the current VideoBox, and brought back 6 large preview thumbnails.
  • We added a new way to browse called “Flow Mode”. Try it, you might like it :)


But what did you take away?

We took away some power user features in the interest of simplicity and familiarity with the current VideoBox. In particular, we removed:

  • The preview player on the top left portion of the Movie, Scene and Clip pages. This player broke the convention that “clicking on a thumbnail leads to the movie playing”.
  • The chicklets above each piece of content.
  • We removed the elements in the footer that allowed you to customize the look of the browse page as well as access your Stash (formerly called Favorites.)
  • The “Customize my VB” button. This button was never implemented, and as we dug deeper into the work required to allow customers to filter out certain types of content, we realized it was a very complex feature to build. We may bring it back in the future.


What’s next?

Some upcoming changes include

  • Ability to “flow mode” your stash.
  • Page to view comments and public stash of other users (as exists in current VideoBox).
  • New mobile site.
  • Improved Roku app.


So please try out the new version of VideoBox. Let us know what you think. And enjoy the two new channels (Kink and Reality Kings).

Thanks,

Josh


Try the new VB3