With the New Year recently begun, many of us are now making good attempts at keeping our resolutions intact, always a tough thing to do a few weeks beyond the January 1 mark. I tried a new approach to my New Year resolutions for 2013 though; I began about 6 weeks early, in November 2012, to give myself a running start.
My biggest resolution for 2013 is simple; to do more, and better, work in Z scale. A large part of this for me right now revolves around new Z scale websites. In 2012, I was fortunate enough to have been asked to design several new Z scale websites for American Z Line and Ztrack Magazine. I also took some time out and set up new stores for myself, JCubbin (www.jcubbin.com) and US | ZSCALE (www.uszscale.com).
For AZL we put together a new company home site (www.americanzline.com) that features both archived releases as well as a current monthly listing of new releases in one easy to navigate location. Good for both dealers and customers. In addition, we’ve added an AZL forum (www.azlforum.com) to compliment the main site.
For Ztrack Magazine it’s been a bit more work that includes three new websites. Several years ago, I built the original Ztrack Center for Rob Kluz. If you don’t know Rob, he’s the editor of Ztrack Magazine and a good friend. On a related note, Rob originally wanted to name his new store Ztrack Bazaar; fortunately, for all of us he was agreeable to the name Ztrack Center. Having a magazine with global distribution meant Rob had relationships with Z scale manufacturers all over the world. Offering their products to Ztrack Magazine readers was a natural fit and the first incarnation of Ztrack Center was established.
This initial Ztrack Center site was built using all HTML, in short, this is the equivalent of using a notepad and pencil instead of a calculator to do complex calculations. Yes, it worked, but with more and more products and functions being added to the store, it became clear that a change was needed. Using new PHP and database driven software allowed me to bring Ztrack Center (www.ztrackcenter.com) to a much more contemporary state.
This new Ztrack Center actually took up more time than I’d like to admit to, each product had to be manually transferred to its new digs and a fair amount of modification was needed to the base software. Lots of coffee on this project!
The second website recently built for Ztrack Magazine is Z Scale Track (www.zscaletrack.com). This site, as the name suggests, is a retail store featuring the popular commercial track and controllers available today in Z scale. A neat idea, one-stop track shopping. With new products being introduced by several manufacturers on a regular basis, this too makes a lot of sense and gives Z scale even more visibility.
The third Ztrack Magazine website being built right now is called Ztrack Distribution (www.ztrackdistribution.com). In many ways, this might be the most beneficial site yet for Z scale modelers, though it’s not for direct Z scale modeler access. With the growth we’ve seen in Z scale and from AZL, a better way was needed for dealers to interact with the AZL distributor, Ztrack Magazine. Precise and up-to-the-minute stock counts, immediate ordering from that stock and other features will help AZL dealers to be more efficient. The better supplied AZL dealers are, the smoother the customer experience will be.
I do think it’s vital that Z scale continues to develop and maintain a strong web presence, and it’s terrific that both AZL and Ztrack Magazine have taken these site-building steps to become more visible for active as well as potential Z scalers.
With 2013 now having a sound foothold, I also realize I have to make some big changes here at Ztrains.com, changes that have been coming for some time. Plans are still in the working stage, but given how busy Z scale is becoming for me, these will be both much needed and beneficial changes. 2013 should be interesting.
As I look over this piece, I realize the work, planning and site building I’ve described here is less of a New Year’s resolution and more of a New Year’s confirmation. A good one too I think. Model railroading is a great hobby and working in Z scale is a special part of that hobby. Helping to further establish the Z scale online infrastructure is a job that I’m both happy and lucky to be involved with.