Conversations With David

February 16, 2010  |  Articles

By Mahmoud "Danger" Taji

The ripples from the Frankenstein articles have not died yet (thankfully). The input that was provided to the Pay to Play (or if you like Voice Over Marketplace) websites has proven both informative and valuable to them.

I can understand that sometimes when the right questions are not asked then the wrong conclusions are reached.

For those who have not yet read the Frankenstein series of articles, here are links to them:

So far 3 of the 4 Voice Over Marketplaces (or VOMs) have provided positive feedback on the suggestions made by all 13 participating voice actors in the first Frankenstein article (except packing up and leaving as Mr. O’Connell might have implied).

Armin from Bodalgo.com has recently revealed the Spanish version of bodalgo.com (which was the project taking up most of his time recently) and now that he’s done with that is starting to work on some of the suggestions and improvements made in the previously  mentioned articles.

Michelle, Donna & Robert from voplanet.com have also taken the suggestions we’ve made to heart and are working on integrating a few of the suggestions into their VOM.

A nice surprise was the involvement of David Ciccarelli, the CEO of Voices.com in the dialogue. While writing up the Frankenstein articles I sent out emails to all the people I thought would benefit from the back and forth that was happening in the comments section. I was pretty disappointed that the Ciccarellis did not reply… until I realized I was operating on Egypt time where our first day of the work week is sunday… sure enough come monday I got a comment posted from David C.

Being a stickler for Public relations (though my aggressive rants would sometimes imply that I keep nothing of the sort in mind) I also sent out thank you emails to the site owners who took the time to involve themselves in a dialogue with the voice actors collective.

The Dialogue Continues.

As a reply to my PR email David sent me a nice little email inviting me to take a look at the upcoming upgrade that voices.com will be going through. I accepted  as long as I could comment and give my input. David agreed and specifically asked that make use of the the input made by the voice over collective  from the Frankenstein articles in my comments.  What follows are the screenshots and upgrades that voices.com is making and the suggestions I added to improve their overall performance.

David and Stephanie are offering folks a chance to be beta testers for their demo site before they bring it live. You can apply to be a beta tester here.

This is a good move by the Ciccarelli family because last time they upgraded there were enough bugs in the system to make many a folk grumble (including yours truly).

Screenshots & Suggestions

In his next email  David sent me a PDF with screenshots of the new proposed layouts and a brief explanation.  I added my notes to them and sent them back for review… I’m going to include everything I wrote in that Pdf file. The circles with numbers indicate where I placed my comments and my actual comments are included in this post in blue:

Page 1

Voices.com 2010 Redesign
Communications Brief for the Voice Emporium

Company Overview

Voices.com is the technology and industry leading website that connects businesses with
professional voice talents. Radio and television stations, advertising agencies and Fortune
500 companies rely upon the Voices.com marketplace to search for, audition and hire voice
talents with the assistance of our innovative SurePay™ escrow service and our awardwinning
Web application.

Purpose

The 2010 Redesign has two main purposes; improve the speed of the website and improve
the usability of the website.

First to improve the speed and responsiveness of the website. This means faster page load
times which can be accomplished by cleaner code, less graphics and a more streamlined
look that is faster for the web browsers and mobile browsers to display.
Second, Voices.com aims to improve the usability of the website. Usability is a quality
attribute that assesses how easy user interfaces are to use. The word “usability” also refers
to methods for improving ease-of-use during the design process.

So Pretty straightforward stuff… they want to clean their code up and display less graphics so there are less loading times.. all pretty straight forward.

Page 2

Accompanying Text:

My Account Page with Key Statistics
Notes: Key statistics such as demos uploaded, the number of times those demos have been
listened to and the number of jobs currently being worked on are all displayed clearly.
Quick links help voice talent find voice over work online, specifically the ability to “Reply to
Jobs”, “Update My Profile” and “Add a New Demo”. We’ve also included a link to the “Help
and Training” section where voice talent can access helpful resources such as blogs,
podcasts and other tutorials.

Taji’s Comments

Comment #1

1. Page Counter A counter for how many people visited the profile page. How many visitors is indicative of how well the SEO system is… and it might carry a larger number than the amount of listens

2. A Return On Investment Counter (ROI counter) This will tell the person how much they have made using the site’s system and it will also show the voice over talent if he has been able to make his initial investment in the membership of the site and then how much more he/she has made.

So in essence the counter will start at -$299 and count up until the person has reached 0 (thereby making back their original investment) and then counter counts up till it shows how much they have made as profit.

3. Direct queries from Clients: You can have a counter to show how often a client has contacted the talent directly thereby skipping the whole audition process and going straight to picking a voice talent after listening to voice demos… this might be something people are interested in.

4. Gallery of images This section might be beneficial to casting directors who are interested in seeing several shots of what a talent looks like… having a gallery of images (lets say a maximum of 10 images at 100k each) means that you use 1 megabyte of space more per voice over talent… but it means that they can use several glamor shots… even shots of their studios of they so wish (to showcase how comprehensive their services are).

5. Accreditation integration: You can add a section in the profile to showcase if that person is Savoa Certified…  you can even be an interface with Savoa so that people can apply for accreditation through the voices.com interface (with an appropriate markup) so instead of the bi annual 75$ it can be $100 and that might also get the Savoa people to not delay the accreditation procedure.

Comment #2

Setting up an internal invoicing system for talent to use might be a good idea because it does 3 things…

1. provides you with the ability to gauge how much money is being spent outside your audition system but which you are responsible for because you connected the talent and voice seeker from.

2. it will be a value added that NO ONE ELSE has…

3. Provide a paper trail as well as give you  a heads up if one of the voice seekers is a scam artist.

Comment #3

might want to include a way for other voice actors to recommend this specific voice actor since the VO community is so small and a well known voice actor’s recommendation might go a way to get more jobs for other vo actors.

Comment #4

Including a way to allow a voice talent to include their twitter feed into their page will make their profile more dynamic and will allow for voice seekers another way to contact talent quickly.

Also a way to integrate a voice talent’s blog feed into the page will give that talent a way to reflect their personality on their own profile (its a pro and a con depending on how good or how bad their writing style is).

Page 3

Accompanying Text:

View All Jobs On One Page

Notes: Voice talent can easily view all the jobs they are qualified for on a single page. The
paper clip icon indicates that a script is attached, helping voice talent prioritize those jobs
that require a custom audition. A new tab called “Awarded” is a single spot where you go to
negotiate the deal, confirm payment and upload your files.

Taji’s Comments

Comment #1

The VO artists had suggested that you list the winning audition… I think we can skip that and just put the number of the audition that was awarded the job… If the number was like 32 then people are given hope that even if 20 people before them had auditioned then they have a chance at getting awarded a job if they take the time to audition.

Comment #2

might be a good idea to put in how much the job is paying in one of the panels?

Page 4

Accompanying Text:

View Jobs Posting Details

Notes: Voice talent can see all the details as well as tools for for seeing the current status
of the job, the position of the audition and the total number of people who responded for
the job.

Taji’s Comment

Comment :

I think it might be a good idea to use the: “Your demo has been opened”
option that some of your competitors are using… its a good option regardless of who came up with the idea.

Page 5

Accompanying Text:

View Payment Details from secure SurePay transactions

Notes: After the payment has been received, voice talent are notified by email and can start
the recording.

Taji’s Comment

Comment :

This part should be collapsible… it takes up too much screen space.

Page 6

Accompanying Text:

View Payment Details from secure SurePay transactions
Notes: Once the recording is done, simply upload your work to Voices.com and the client
will download the files. Voice talent are paid for completed work by PayPal or check.

Taji’s Comment

Comment :

consider setting up an interac payment system for Canadian voice actors since its such a pain for us to get paid using paypal and then transfer it to our Canadian bank accounts (nothing wrong with being proud to be a canuck).
____________________________

One interesting thing that stood out for me is the comment made on the first page; that they are optimizing the site for mobile browsing as well. Since I check my mail and voice over marketplace sites regularly using my iPhone, a step toward having a better mobile layout will go a long way toward streamlining my workflow.

When I asked David about this he said: “A mobile version of the website is definitely in the works.  It’s actually a lot harder than it sounds as we are required to completely reformat each page specifically for the 240×320 dimensions.  Doable, but 3-6 months out.”

So … it’s in the works but you might be seeing it as early as May or as far away as September.

Those were my comments and suggestions to David. Voices.com was keen for me to review what they were doing and suggest improvements derived from the Frankenstein Series of Articles. Which means one thing to me… Never stop talking because If we stop talking then they stop listening.

Visit Voices.com’s blog Vox Daily to register as a beta tester for their site and make your suggestions heard.



3 Comments


  1. Wow, nice work, Taji!! And thanks to all the p2p sites for listening to our whining…er…suggestions!

  2. Thanks so much for being a liaison with Voices.com and the other sites. Having feedback in making the site run smoother and set up to help the talent really makes a difference.

    I really appreciated seeing what’s being suggested. I already liked Voices.com. I like them even more now.

  3. Mahmoud, TJ and Kimi,

    Thanks for posting your comments. You’re right, we’re always listening to keep us accountable by publicly sharing what you like and what you believe could be improved upon.

    As Mahmoud mentioned, several changes have already been put in place as a result of this article.

    Thanks for the opportunity to share.

    Best regards,

    David

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