By Xavier Russo & Nicole Bowes
This month marks a huge milestone in the evolution of Tuts+.
Beginning in 2007 as a single educational blog, Tuts+ had slowly expanded to a network of 16 separate sites with a huge library of tutorials and articles. Now, after a year-long consolidation process, we’re bringing everything back to one platform and one brand by re-launching Tuts+.
Way back in 2007 Collis started Tuts+ by purchasing psdtuts.com, a “tiny site with slightly dubious tutorials”, initially with the plan to fix it up and sell it. Kind of like you do with houses. Luckily for the Tuts+ history books this never eventuated and instead Collis wiped the site and started again firstly using his own Photoshop tutorials and then hiring contributors from our community.
(Long time Tuts+ readers will remember the early sites used to have the byline 'spoon-fed' tutorials. When it was dropped, Collis instead added this link).
The audience grew quickly, and more sites were added on different creative and technical topics. Before long, Tuts+ had become a network of nearly a dozen platforms each with its own website, sub-brand, editorial team, and community.
Early in 2010 we set up a network-wide homepage at the tutsplus.com domain, with “Tuts” becoming “Tuts+”. Tuts+ Premium also kicked off by offering access to source files, extra tutorials, video courses and ebooks via subscription.
The free Tuts+ tutorial network and Tuts+ Premium grew side-by-side as separate teams until 2012 when Collis put our GM, Jason Ellis, in charge and the decision was made to bring it all together. At that time Tuts+ was a thriving network of 16 individual sites with nearly 20 million page views per month.
Why the change?
In recent years growing Tuts+ had become increasingly challenging. Each new topic we added meant setting up a new WordPress installation, creating a new brand, and hiring a site editor. This structure made it difficult to communicate what we were about. What’s more, readers of one site were often missing out on relevant content elsewhere on our network.
It’s been no small task consolidating so many sites, the largest of which served an individual audience of over a million people each month and had a Page Rank of 7.
However we figured that having just one site would mean:
- Newcomers can understand what Tuts+ is and how they can use it to learn skills
- Regular readers can spend less time searching and more time learning
- Advertisers, partners and media can quickly “get” what Tuts+ is about and be more inclined to support our mission of helping people learn & earn online.
- The Tuts+ team can manage and enhance the website more effectively, making it easier to build new features, publish more content, and improve user experience.
Building a platform for growth
This month our new site launches publically to our monthly community of 5 million people with all of our tutorials, video courses, and ebooks now organized into a shared topic structure.
A redesign from the ground up has created the new platform with responsive design, mobile and tablet friendly optimisation, improved tutorial search, and a new video player for better streaming performance. Behind the scenes, we’ve built a custom CMS to streamline content creation and publication for our editors and instructors.
Starting over has meant we can focus on creating a better platform that supports quick development of new features, without the headaches of legacy issues.
Preparing for the launch involved a big effort from the entire Tuts+ team to migrate more than 16,000 tutorials and 300 courses to the new platform, and to ensure an easy transition for our subscribers.
What’s next for Tuts+?
Our aim is still to help as many people as possible learn creative skills and shape the lives they want. We love to see people transform themselves and their lives by learning and earning money online.
We’ll be adding lots of new features and improvements to our new platform over time. Next up on our development list is adding the ability to search courses, see your progress on courses, and a host of UX improvements. After that, the introduction of new features and community tools to help make our learning simpler and more enjoyable.
Visit Tuts+ today and start exploring!