If at first you don’t succeed . . .

Tack Guru: Expert Advice about English Tack
Visit Tack Guru and leave your reviews

If at first you don’t succeed . . .  keep hitting your head against the wall and try again! Today I have officially shut down my first equestrian product review site . . . and launched another one. Equine Products Review is gone . . . and www.TackGuru.com is now in its beta phase.

Back in 2008/9 I decided that what the world really needed was a better review site for equestrian products. Let’s face it. Anything labeled as “for horses” is automatically twice as much as it would be for any other use. I wanted a site that gave you aggregate ratings on horse products — not just tack but equestrian clothing, supplements, feeds and more.

After much thought and planning, not to mention hundreds of hours of work and way, way too much money, EquineProductsReview.com was launched. It never worked quite the way I had envisioned. It was one of those projects that was 80% finished with 80% more to go. It wasn’t helped by the fact that the developer I’d hired to build the site was apparently only a few steps ahead of me when it came to programming. That experience ended poorly: he went way over budget and substantially under delivered. When I tried to get the site fixed by a more experienced team I found that it was so structurally flawed that it couldn’t be easily fixed. So I put it aside while I tried to decide what to do next.

For more than a year I let the site sit. People came and left reviews and I still thought it was a good idea. I started doing some research. In the time since I started EPR, the tools available to non programmers like me had improved significantly. Using a self-hosted WordPress platform, some off the shelf premium (paid) plug-ins and the the help of many patient technical support representatives, I built a new site from scratch myself:  www.TackGuru.com was born a few months ago.

This time it’s working a lot better and actually looks better too. I really like the fact that I control every aspect of it myself and no longer am at the mercy of a programmer every time I want to change it.

So, now I need your help.

I know that all of you have strong feelings about the products that you use and I would really appreciate it if you would share those thoughts by writing a few reviews and letting me know how I can keep improving the site.

To leave reviews you need to register on the site — there’s a place where you have the opportunity to fill in an “affiliation.” If there’s an organization or charity that you support, that’s where you should put it in. Over the next few months I would like to run a promotion where TackGuru can support the organizations that are important to our reviewers/contributors.

Make your opinion count! As they said in Chicago, vote early and often.

2 thoughts on “If at first you don’t succeed . . .

  1. The site looks good! Can I add a couple of suggestions about the site? (I’m a web designer). The first one is that the Log In Box needs a ‘Create Login’ or ‘Join Us’ etc. The second is the use of the word ‘Contribute’, as in ‘contribute to the site’. Contribute is a word heavily linked to financial donations. If you want to use ‘Contribute’ to refer to participation in the site it needs to become a large part of the marketing and design of the site. It needs to be displayed prominently, preferably as part of a tagline in the header. You basically need to make it clear to the world that you have created a new meaning for this word; ‘Contribute’ on your site means ____. People should know within 10 seconds that ‘Contribute’ has no affiliation with any sort of donation.

    I would also create a button in the global navigation (top navigation) or side navigation for writing a review. I know it’s there under pages, but it’s a bit buried where it is. You want it to be prominent and very easy to find. After all, the very content of your site depends upon people writing reviews.

    I’m a bit hesitant about the way the global navigation has been categorized/broken down. Some categories seem like they could be subcategories. Also it’s worth planning how larger categories will be subcategorized and broken down. For example, I could see ‘Horse Health’ becoming quite lengthy and too long for drop down navigation without further structure.

    All that said, you’ve got a fantastic site started. I think the equestrian community really needs something like this. Like you’ve said, horse products are incredibly expensive! They add up quickly and some times it’s simply not worth posting on COTH and asking for reviews.

    I know HTML, CSS and have a degree in multimedia design. I’m also a rider and a computer geek. If you need any help with design/coding or just want someone to bounce ideas off of just let me know.

Leave a Reply