I think it’s fair to say that we’ve always been among the ugly ducklings of web sites. We’ve been ok with that, though.
“It’s what’s on the inside that’s important,” we kept telling ourselves.
Sure, we had seemingly random bits of information strewn around in various places, a colour-scheme that might best be described as “meh”, and sidebar sections that seemed to stretch on for miles with only one or two words per line. Maybe “ugly” isn’t the right word, though. Perhaps “hap-hazard” is better. Either way, we didn’t worry about it too much because the site was functional and people kept coming back day after day.
And we’ve been pretty good at keeping a loyal audience over the 5+ years that we’ve been doing this. Our readers want new contests to enter every day, and we’ve been delivering them. Seven days a week. Fifty-two weeks per year. Even weekends and holidays don’t slow us down.
As long as people keep coming to the site, who cares what we look like?
Well, I guess we do. The truth is that first impressions mean a lot, and when someone came across our site from a Google search, we were not likely to impress them with the look that we had. Sure, if they took the time to look around and see how many contests we have and how valuable the visitor comments are, they’d likely come back, but there would be fairly sizable group of people that would take one look at our home page and move on. We want to reduce the size of that group.
So, after days of slaving away in the basement office, we have emerged with a new look! It’s still a work-in-progress, so there will continue to be changes, but we’re already pretty pleased with the difference. The updates also open the door for some more changes that we’ll be introducing in the next few weeks.
The site’s functionality should still be the same as what you’re used to, other than the fact that a few things like the Categories list and Recent Comments have moved to new locations. We moved the Recent Comments section to the bottom of the page because it takes up a lot of space and doesn’t really fit in the sidebar. What do you think of this? Do you often look at the Recent Comments? Should it be more prominent?
And, overall, what do you think? Have we gone from ugly duckling to swan? Or at least from ugly duckling to ugly duckling with a cute smile?
Please feel free to let us know in the comments.
The recent Canadian election has got us in a very democratic mood here at www.contestcanada.net. In particular, the issue that has been discussed a couple of times in the past few weeks is the handling of blog contests. In the past, we included them along with regular contests on the main page, but then we separated them onto their own page. The ongoing feedback we’ve been getting is that it would also be good to have an icon or button that clearly indicates that a particular listing is for a blog contest.
And so, after several minutes slaving over an on-line button-generator, this is what we came up with:
You’ll see this button on the site and in the newsletter each day, next to the little flags for Canada and the US.
Another thing that we’ve been hearing quite a bit lately is that some folks really don’t like the contests where you have to submit a photo or essay and then get your friends to vote for you. There are more and more of these in recent times as companies jump on the social media bandwagon. Sometimes these contests have pretty amazing prizes, so we definitely want to continue listing them. As John pointed out in a recent comment, “Sometimes the contests that require a little effort mean that the odds are that much better!”
So, in an effort to please everyone, we’ve added a button to clearly identify this type of contest:
And, lastly, because some people don’t like Facebook contests, we’ve added a button for that too. This is usually (but not always) pretty obvious from the contest URL, but an extra visual indicator can’t hurt:
One last thing on the subject of Blog Contests: My Little Review Corner has a new entry in a series of posts meant to explain the ins and outs of blog contests. This one is about Tweeting. Check it out.
Hopefully you’ll find the new buttons to be helpful. If you have suggestions on how this could be improved, please feel free to comment below. Or if you’d rather not make a public comment, you can also send a message through our contact form.
We had a pretty big discussion a few weeks ago about blog contests. Some people like them, and some people don’t. Regardless of which side of the fence you’re on, I think you’ll find this blog post from MyLittleReviewCorner interesting:
Recently we’ve made some recent changes to the way blog contests are handled here at www.contestcanada.net, so I wanted to write quick explanation of the changes and the motivation behind them.
Previously, blog contests were mixed in with the regular contests. We normally focus on the larger contests, so generally we weren’t including a lot of the smaller blog contests. As you probably know, blog contests usually have smaller prizes and you usually have to tweet, “like” a page, or comment on the blog in order to get an entry. They also normally have much better odds of winning.
Over the past few months, a lot more of these blog contests have been submitted to us on a daily basis. It seems to be a growing trend, and since there are genuine prizes to be won, we’ve included more and more of them. Personally, I like the idea of having a 1-in-300 or 1-in-500 chance of winning, even if the prize is smaller.
Not everyone feels this way though, and we’ve received a number of complaints. Some people don’t like to bother with the smaller prizes, and some people don’t like the “work” of having to tweet a message or leave a comment. Fair enough.
So, the changes are as follows:
- Blog contests will no longer appear on the front page. We’ve moved them to a separate page: http://www.contestcanada.net/category/blog-contests/
- You can access this page any time by clicking the “Blog Contests” link in the black bar near the top of the page.
- Blog contests will still be included in the daily email
- We will be increasing the number of blog contests that are published each day
If you’re a fan of blog contests or you’re a blog owner who runs contests, I hope you’ll be happy to hear that we’re going to be including more of them. If you don’t like them, I hope you’ll be happy to hear that you won’t have to sort through them to find the regular contests that you’re looking for.
Agree? Disagree? Comments are welcome.
Friends, some of you may have received a malware notification when visiting this site over the last few days. And while we take pride in being a smidgeon more devious than the most devious minds, we’ve gotta own up to it: we were hacked, powned and owned. Probably by some bitter basement dweller who was feeling neglected by his cat. The result is that some links were added to our site that shouldn’t have been. None of our site visitors will be affected other than occasional groaning caused by our attempts at humour.
Thanks to the visitors who alerted us to the problem. Within nanoseconds we marshalled a crack team of freedom fighters and fixed the problem with the same fighting spirit that our Canadian ancestors used to repel the charioteers of Alexander the Great. That self-heralded team included Artman, a wise-cracking rogue with straight teeth; Keyzee, the brains behind the operation, and ContestC, a childish prodigy with a chronic fear of salt. All’s well now and for anyone who happens to be reading this, hey, thanks for stickin’ around.
We’re moving contestcanada.net to a new server today. This will address the painfully slow page load times that we’ve been experiencing lately, and is the first step in a series of changes that we have planned.
The site may be up-and-down while we move, and it might take up to 48 hours for you to see the improvements, so please be patient.
Why would someone follow us? The only thing foolish enough to do so was this dog, and look what we did to him! But now, here we are, telling you about our new Twitter feed, thinking you’re so off-the-rails that you might even check it out.
Each and every contest that we post on ContestCanada.net will also show up as a tweet on our Contestcan Twitter feed. If you’re not using Twitter, you’re not missing anything – all the good stuff is still here, delivered with sardonic wit and the occasional typo.
You can find our Twitter feed here.
So, I sent some publicity head-shots to a talent agent and she told me I had “a fraction of Ernest Borgnine’s sex appeal”. That’s when i found my calling …. radio! Listen in tonight for a chat on all sorts of contest chatter as I join Carolyn Wilman’s (aka The Contest Queen) radio program. Check it out!
As some of you know, we’ve been working on a web site that will allow you to keep track of your entries for the various contests that appear on http://contestcanada.net. It’s something that we’re very excited about, and recently we launched this new service at http://lookcontests.com on an invitation-only basis.
The feedback has been very positive, and now we’d like to open it up to some more people.
*If you’re one of the first 100 people to sign up for the waiting list at http://lookcontests.com, you’ll automatically be approved for a 4-month free site membership.*
All you have to do is go to http://lookcontests.com and enter your e-mail address on the main page. While you’re waiting for your approval e-mail from us, you may want to browse through the entries at http://blog.lookcontests.com to get an idea of the site’s features.
Hi all! No contest here, just a few quick updates and a word of thanks. The thanks is to you – yes you, all you crazy contest lovers that keep coming back for more. We’re up to nearly 4,000 contests on this site and we’re very pleased to have a regular group that hangs out more often than Norm at Cheers.
Email newsletter: There are loads, no scads, of people that have signed up for our free daily contest email newsletter that are not receiving it. In order to receive it you need to click on the link in the verification email that was sent to you. If you can’t find that email or perhaps left it in your jeans pocket when you did some laundry, no worries! Just pump your email address into the little email newsletter subscription box on the left margin of this page and you’ll get another subscription verification email. That newsletter delivers about a dozen hot contests every day – make sure you’re getting it!
Forums: Lots of great discussions going on in the Canada contest forums. Check ‘em out for tips, tricks, strategies and success stories from fellow contest goers and the occasional pervert (just kidding, these are well-moderated forums!).
Our link buddy: We’ve found a good source for contests and would suggest checking this site out from time to time: Sweepstakes Advantage – Free Online Sweepstakes – Win Instantly!
All the best and may you win loads of iPods and stuff. – ContestC
Hi folks. Sorry we haven’t posted new contests yesterday or today. We’ve run into a problem with our publishing tools and we’re working out a fix with our hosting provider. We’ll be up and running again in a short while with a great new set of contests. In fact, it’ll be a freakin’ contest extravaganza!!
The March 31 deadline for our iPod contest is coming up. Please note that we have 643 people who have subscribed for our email newsletter but have not validated their subscription. If you don’t validate you can’t win the iPod. Not only that, you won’t get our delectable daily email full of links to great Canadian contests. It’s enough to make one say: Wadju talkin’ ’bout Willis!!!
Here’s what to do:
If you’re getting our daily email, you’re good. Sit tight and keep your fingers crossed.
If you haven’t signed up, sign up for our newsletter to enter the iPod contest
If you have signed up, but are not getting emails, follow these steps:
- first, if you have an email requesting you to validate by clicking a link, click the link to validate and you’re done. Some people are unable to complete this action (it’s an odd problem that occurs from time to time – our email provider has been notified). If this happens to you, just forward that email (the one with the validation link in it) to us at email@example.com. We’ll validate for you. You’ll be entered in the iPod contest AND you’ll get our daily email the next day.
If you don’t have the email anymore (or didn’t receive one) just sign up for our newsletter again using the same email. You will receive another email with the validation link.
The new ContestCanada.net discussion forum is positively cooking! Okay, it’s at least simmering on low heat. Get in there now and join in some of the exciting and lively discussions, like these:
- Mskeen has some great browser tips for contest entrants
- Testreg has added our first user-submitted contest (how did we miss that one?)
- And there’s a good discussion started about cool contest prizes people have won.
Check it yourself at the ContestCanada.net forums
Our new, spam-free Canadian Contest forums are alive! ALIVE I say!!
We love the comments you all write on our contest postings. That includes the helpful corrections, the beneficial answers and support to other commenters, and your enthusiasm for cool contest prizes. We even got a kick out of that teenager complaining about his mom.
But comments don’t really build into conversations, so we wanted to provide a forum for our visitors to air their views, connect with others, share tips and tricks, list new contests that we may have neglected, and so much more.
So please, please head on over and start or join a conversation. I think that if we get enough people involved that this could grow into a beautiful thing.
Happy holidays from the ContestCanada.net team!
We just wanted to let you know about a new feature available on the site: our new ratings system. Below each posted contest you’ll see a set of stars. If you want to rate that contest (a great way to share your opinion on contests you’ve entered or the types of contests that appeal to you), just hold your mouse over it so that it covers the desired amount of stars, then click. If you really dig it, give it 5 stars. If you tried to enter and it gave you an inscrutable error message, give it a 1.
Once we have some ratings we’ll share with you the highest rated contests. Let’s hope the contest sponsors will be watching and will launch new contests based on your feedback!