New Design, New Features and More – It’s FreelanceSwitch v3
When we started FreelanceSwitch back in April 2007, the site consisted of just a couple of blog posts and an about page. Over time we upgraded the design to v2, added forums, a job board, podcasts, resources like an hourly rates calculator, spun up a Twitter account and of course boosted the number of blog posts!
Today I’m very happy to unveil the latest iteration of FreelanceSwitch which introduces a bucketload of new features including a directory of freelancers complete with search facilities, profile pages for users, unified logins for the forums and the rest of the site, a resource directory and of course a fresh design for the whole site.
Accounts, Profiles and the Freelance Directory
The biggest change in version 3 is that we’re introducing a much more robust user account system. Previously we used to have forum accounts and job board accounts. We’ve now merged the two into a single FreelanceSwitch account system.
There are two types of accounts:
Free Accounts …
If you sign up to a free FreelanceSwitch account you’ll be able to:
- Chat on the forums
- Create a basic Profile page with contact details, description, external URL and a couple of skills tags
- Appear in the Freelancer Directory
Paid Accounts …
For $7 a month you get to:
- Apply for jobs on the job board
- Additional Profile features including extra URLs, extra tags, testimonials and work samples
- Appear at the top of any searches of the Freelancer Directory and have more details shown with a larger profile image
What the Profile Pages look like
You can see a sample profile page that I’ve made for myself:
The New Design
The new design is an evolution of the previous look and retains many of the same elements, just repackaged with a bit of freshness.
Some things you might be interested to note are:
- The whole site from forums to job board to blog has the same unified design now
- We’re pulling in fresh jobs into the sidebar
- We’ve got a fairly unorthodox comment layout which emphasizes big text for readability
- We’re using sIFR to render out the FreelanceSwitch font in our headings. It means a slight lag in page loads, but it just looks so damn neat!
- We’ve added a welcome panel to the homepage to help clients use the site
- The site is designed so it looks like the old site … but newer!
Here’s a little look at how FreelanceSwitch has evolved over the years:
New Forum Skin
Because it was done in response to a sudden crisis, we didn’t have time to skin the forums. I wanted to take a moment to thank all our community for putting up with the bare bones BBPress theme for half a year!!
It’s taken us a long time, but finally we’ve got a nice new outfit for you all. And we won’t be reverting to the birthday suit ever again!
Some of our most popular posts here on FreelanceSwitch are posts listing useful web resources for freelancers. That’s why we’ve compiled a special resources directory of useful links to services and sites that freelancers can benefit from.
We’ll be adding to it over the coming weeks to get it really complete. If you have a suggestion, feel free to Submit a Resource.
The directory is built using a custom WordPress plugin which we’ll be making open source via Nettuts+ later this week!
Features, Features, Features
Along with all our other changes you’ll see a few new minor features and tweaks including:
- Subscribe to Comments via Email
- Search Jobs, Directory, Forums, Resources or Blog Posts from the header
- Recent Jobs in the blog sidebar
- A Press page
- A listing of all our fantastic contributors and authors
- Tweet This counter on posts
- Better author profiles on posts
- Related articles that doesn’t break!
- Threaded comments
And doubtless there are a few more features that I’ve forgotten all about!
What We’re Working On Now!
While the new site is up, we are actually still working on more features and upgrades. In particular we’ll be working to integrate the blog comments system with the new account system. We’ll also be adding a little user badge system so you can figure out who has complete profiles, who is a writer and more.
You can also look forward to more features and utilities in the Paid Account system as we work to increase the value you get for your hard earned cash.
Bugs, Fixes, Feedback
If you notice anything which doesn’t appear to be working as it should leave a comment below, or send us a ticket. Because of the complexity of the site structure and the fact that we’ve had a 24 hour shift getting the site launched, there’s bound to be a few teething issues but we’ll get them within the next couple of days!
The Freelancers Who Worked On This
As it always has been FreelanceSwitch has been put together by a team of freelancers. So I’d like to take a moment to say awesome job to:
Derek Herman who coded up all my Photoshop work, the guys from Instinct who built the Resource Directory plugin and Mathias Meyer who is not only a FreelanceSwitch writer, but also a very good Rails developer!
The site is a really tricky mix of WordPress, WP Plugins, BBPress and Ruby on Rails, and it’s taken a very talented and dedicated team of freelancers spread over four different countries to pull it off!