Open forum …. any suggestions for tweaking the site?

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On January 1st last year I ran an ‘open forum’ where I opened up the comments to ideas on tweaking the site.  It worked well so I thought I would try it again.

I have continued to change various elements of the site here and there throughout 2014, although many were small changes which on their own don’t really get noticed.  I also added an Instagram site and there is a big overhaul of the daily emails ready to go which will be launched in the next couple of days.

In terms of content, it is now proving a lot easier to get companies to donate competition prizes to the site.  If you like what I have given away in 2014, you will be very impressed by what I have to offer during January!  There will be a big announcement on Saturday to kick off the year in style.

However, I am fully aware that there is an element of ‘snow blindness’ in what I do. After all, I look at the site every day for a considerable period of time, and I can only second-guess how you, the readers, respond to the different elements.

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As we start a new year, I’d like to open up the floor to any suggestions you have about the site. Remember that I need to cater for two audiences at the same time – the regular readers and the hundreds of people who come here via Google each day and who I want to convert into regular readers.

Is it clear to a newcomer what the site is about and why they should keep on reading it?

Are there too many menus at the top of the page? Too few?

Are there too many ads? (Probably not, most blogs would run ads inside posts as well, which I don’t)

Are the sidebars too confusing? Should I push the social media links more?

Should there be more ‘sticky’ information for newcomers?

Does the mix of content – which veers from Tesco deals to airline deals to credit card sign-up offers – work for you?

Is the mix of news versus ‘reference / background’ articles (eg ‘How to use Combine My Avios with Iberia’) right?

Does the current format of running a fixed number of stories at fixed times every day – with a ‘lead’ story and two less important ones below – work for you? (Most blogs just post at random times throughout the day, but I am middle-aged and grew up with the newspaper tradition!)

If there is anything about the way the site currently looks that annoys or confuses you, or if you have any ideas for improvements, please post below. You can also email me at raffles [at] if you’d prefer.

Anything from your dislike of how I punctuate the headlines in the sidebars through to ideas for new ‘sticky’ pages are welcome – no idea is too small!  And, to be honest, small changes are easier to implement than large changes ….

Thank you, and a Happy New Year for 2015.

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  1. No, I very rarely delete anything unless it is clearly offensive.

  2. Great website, but I’d love to see a dedicated section for squeezing the most out of UK railways please! I would have never have known about First Transpennine if it wasn’t for reading the articles on here.

  3. Personally, I love the routine and predictability of the morning posts. But having read your blog daily for the best part of two years, I am amazed to learn that they are intended as one ‘main’ and two ‘subsidiary’ stories! I’d never noticed that.

    • It isn’t quite like that – it is more accurate to say that I know what sort of articles attract the highest page views and I try to make sure the top article every days is one of those. Articles which I expect to be less popular run as No 2 or No 3. I don’t always get it right and sometimes I don’t get much of an option if there isn’t much news about. Tomorrow is an example ….

  4. Within the current hosting environment only tweaks are possible. e.g. tabular format would be easier to read but would probably need a separate document stored elsewhere.
    On a more positive note, I suggest that we have a few extra more general posts so that people can relay useful tips without using any current thread. e.g. current offer codes at Tesco.

  5. Tom London says:

    Hi Raffles

    Look forward to my emails every day – always a good read. Thank you for taking the time to maintain such an excellent resource.

    My comments/suggestions:

    1. Is it necessary to send x3 separate mails each day? Personally I would prefer to receive one single mail more of a newsletter format. Then for any ‘mid day’ hot news another mail/s in the day.

    2. Who is Raffles/Rob? Although in certain posts we get snippets of info, it would be good to know who you are, what you are all about. Sometimes feels almost like you deliberately don’t give much about yourself away. Would be great to know more about the guy who makes the posts 🙂

    3. Categorization of posts. Already seems you have meta data to categorize each post by chain, topic etc. Why not allow users to select the topics they are interested in so mails are tailored to their interests.

    Just my two cents…

    Happy New year and keep up the great work,


    • Thanks for the feedback. The new email system, rolling out this week or next week, will allow me to offer 1 email per day as an option – although it won’t be available on day 1.

      Once it is bedded down I will allow people to switch over if they wish although the default will remain 3 separate emails per day.

      The issue is this. At the moment, you can delete stories that don’t interest you without opening them because the headline explains the story. If I just send 1 email, you have to open it and you have to scroll down it to see what it is in. This probably takes longer than having 3 separate emails and deleting unread the 1 or 2 that don’t sound useful.

      Me – my identity is not a secret, any email you get from me has my name on it! I keep it off the site purely to stop Google indexing it and therefore bringing it into other areas of my life. I also (honestly) don’t want to receive different treatment from airlines and hotels who know who I am.

      Categorisation of emails – it could be done but it would be very complex for me and for you. It also has a massive snag – you would miss out on hearing about a great deal from an airline or hotel chain you don’t usually bother with.

  6. Chris H says:

    Just a note to say thanks for running the site. I would never have thought to graduate to multiple Amex accounts for our household without it – and we have already booked our first Avios redemption to America with a 2-4-1!

  7. As mentioned numerous times above, many thanks for all your efforts Rob. I stumbled upon HfP before the first facelift (and addicted ever since)!

    Often when reading a post with many replies, I will come back later in the day or the next day to see the updated comments. At that point it’s difficult to filter out the comments I’ve already read from those which have been posted since I was last reading the post. Is there a clever way to do this?

    That’s really my only suggestion. Everything else is top notch. Much appreciated Rob, and wish you a happy, healthy and successful 2015.

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