SilentMode, a longtime pillar of the LEGO community is crowdfunding to provide a brand new design for LEGO minifigure trading site: Project Swapfig. SilentMode recently sat down with Kollectobil and spoke about the present and future of the up and coming site, Project Swapfig:
What has changed with Swapfig since it first launched?
Project Swapfig officially launched on May 1st, and I wish I could say it was a smooth launch… I had to spend the next two and a half days sat at my computer, trying to fix all kinds of errors that appeared. It took about a week before I finally managed to rest.
In the six months the site has been up, I’ve been adding other interesting features, such as a Statistics page, and a convenience page for finding users with a specific minifigure to trade – and of course a lot of time has been spent on SEO, site maintenance and bug fixing. Most importantly I’ve been listening to feedback and working on adding future support for other kinds of minifigures, as well as polybag sets and even parts to trade. Other than those things, my focus is on expanding the site in order to introduce more people to trading and collecting minifigures.
Why use the crowdfunding model again to raise money for Swapfig?
It was difficult the first time, and I knew that a second crowdfunding attempt was going to be even more difficult because the site had launched anyway. I also knew that asking for donations for the site’s upkeep wouldn’t work. I eventually decided to try crowdfunding again because, in addition to raising money for a web designer, I would also be able to offer rewards to supporters: for example, the Gold Swapfigure as a substitute for Mr Gold from the Series 10 Collectible Minifigures. Crowdfunding also proved to be a great way of spreading the word about and attracting new people to the site.
Regardless of the outcome, I highly doubt I will ever do crowdfunding again, and there definitely won’t be a third attempt for Swapfig.
There were (and still are) many good reasons to use Kickstarter for crowdfunding, but my main reason for going elsewhere was with my first attempt being “buried” on the site before it ended. The shorter than usual campaign length (which was necessary as I was working to the May 1st deadline) was also a result of having to wait for approval before it could launch, which took several days.
I had looked at alternatives as soon as I’d decided to make a second attempt, and the main reason for going with Zequs (formerly PleaseFund.us) was because of their enthusiasm and support in the planning stages of the campaign: something I’d didn’t have and couldn’t get elsewhere. They also accept PayPal for pledges, which some people who didn’t back the first campaign had claimed was an issue.
The main aim of the redesign is to attract a wider audience of people, both directly and through promoting the site, and encouraging existing users to use the site often. I would be open to giving the designer creative input, but my thoughts at the moment would be to build on the existing design by making use of colour and imagery, while maintaining an overall clean and distinctive look. The end result will hopefully be something you’d find featured in a web design magazine; it would also coincide with Swapfig losing the “Project” from its name! I would really like to attract younger fans of LEGO to the site as a result (with their parents’ supervision, of course), but avoid the clichéd “Web 2.0” look of other places, such as LEGO’s own Collectible Minfigures web site.
What has been the feedback from users since Swapfig’s launch?
Even though the first crowdfunding attempt had failed, it went a long way toward getting the word out about the site – and many times more people than supported the campaign have since joined the site and have been trading. I’ve had quite a few compliments about the site, even with its current design, and most of them have noted how simple and effective it is to trade with other people. There have been people who’ve found things to complain about, be it the design, crowdfunding, bugs or other things – but they show just how much of an impact Swapfig has made since its inception. They may not admit it, but many of those critics are actually members!