Chuq Von Rospach is a Silicon Valley veteran doing Technical Community Management and amateur photographer with a strong interest in birds, wildlife and landscapes. My goal is to explore the Western states and working to tell you the stories of the special places I've found. You can find out more on the About Page.
New: For Your Consideration
I'm thrilled to announce that I've launched a project I've been working on for the last couple of months. For Your Consideration is my attempt to re-think how we interact with information on the Internet.
My goal of For Your Consideration is to slow down, focus on good and interesting things, give them context. It is one posting per day, seven days a week.
Find out more in the FYC Manifesto. Help me get the word out. Tell your friends about it. Encourage people to try it and follow FYC. When you see interesting content on FYC, share it with your friends.
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I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve launched a project I’ve been working on for the last couple of months.
For Your Consideration
Things to Ponder and Enjoy
For Your Consideration is my attempt to re-think how we interact with information on the Internet. The net has long encouraged habits I’ve considered negatives; the belief was that you had to post frequently to keep your audience entertained has lead to a mentality of often and fast instead of thoughtful and good. Financial models were built about generating lots of pageviews and throwing advertising in the reader’s face, so revenue generation was in conflict with creating longer, better-researched and more thoughtful pieces of content.
Curation has been a go-to word around the Internet for a couple of years and I’ve long been fascinated with the idea, but far too often, curation been turned into “let me post links to stuff I found” without thought or context. In many cases, these attempts at curation have added to the noise rather than reduced it.
I’ve been experimenting in small ways with creating a way to share things in a way that created a high-signal/low-noise environment. None of the experiments I tried ever felt to me like it was the solution I was looking for, but they did help me understand what was possible and what might work.
For Your Consideration is my attempt at implementing what I think is a way to share in that high-signal environment. We’ll find together how well it works.
The Goal of For Your Consideration
My goal of For Your Consideration is to slow down, focus on good and interesting things, give it context. Good food is better than fast food. Good links are better than fast links. If you want fast, there are places that’ll give it to you. Good things will still be good after those fast things are forgotten for the next one.
I want For Your Consideration to be interesting but not controversial. It’s going to have an opinion, but I want to avoid having an attitude. I want to find things that you will find interesting, and give them to you in a way that allows you to look at them without being in a hurry to the next thing.
For Your Consideration is one posting per day, seven days a week. One item per day.This restriction gives me the time to do the research and put the item in context where necessary. It means you don’t have to worry about being overloaded by so many things that you have to skim past them. I think it’s important that both the publisher and the reader break the “gotta get through it all” mentality that’s dominated the internet mindset the last few years.
By restricting myself to one item a day, I have to make choices. That forces me to become a filter and choose the best content for the audience. By limiting it to one item a day, I allow you the time to be able to find out why I felt it was worth your time. I hope that by slowing down, we may see fewer things, but those things we do see will mean more and impact our lives more.
Most days will be one link to one thing. Occasionally I’ll post a longer pieces with multiple items on a single topic or a review of something I think you’ll be interested in. I don’t promise to never be topical. I don’t promise not to have an opinion. I do promise that the primary goal is to post things that are interesting and not to promote any ideology.
You can read more about how I plan to share content — and what content won’t be shared here — in the FYC Manifesto.
Getting involved with For Your Consideration
You can subscribe to For Your Consideration in various ways, and you should choose the one most convenient for you.
- Items posted to For Your Consideration will be posted to my twitter feed.
- For Your Consideration has an RSS feed you can use in any system that reads RSS, like Feedly or Prismatic.
- It is available via email if you subscribe to our mailing list (managed by Mailchimp)
- And you can always just wander by and read the web site at http://fyc.chuqui.com.
To help make For Your Consideration successful I’ll need a little help. Here’s how you can help:
Help me get the word out. Tell your friends about it. Encourage people to try it and follow FYC.
When you see interesting content on FYC, share it with your friends.
If you run across something you think should be published on FYC, submit it to me. You can do that by emailing the information to firstname.lastname@example.org, or by sending it along to the FYC Raw Feed on Twitter.
The For Your Consideration Raw Feed on Twitter
One of the goals of FYC is to limit the number of items that we publish on the site, which forces me to make choices about what the most interesting items are. Some of you will probably want to at least skim all of the candidates whether or not they make the cut for publication. For those that want that I’ve set up a special twitter feed at https://twitter.com/CollatingLife. That is, literally, the in-box for FYC, and everything I find that I might decide to turn into an item on FYC gets posted there, so you can monitor the inbox as well. I seem to be posting 1 to 7 items a day on average, so even that feed isn’t going to be overwhelming.
I think it would be an interesting experiment to turn the selection of items for FYC into a crowdsourced operation with commentary selected from the community at large, but that will have to wait for a future generation of the site.
Defining Success with For Your Consideration
One thing I think is crucial when you launch something like this is to have some way to judge whether it’s succeeding or not. If it isn’t, you need to either improve it or shut it down. If it is, you look for ways to invest in it and make it better. You can’t do that if you don’t know what success means.
To me success is going to be defined not by how many people subscribe and follow the site, but by how often you feel material is worthy of being shared to your friends and contacts. The better job I do at curation, the more often that content should be interesting enough to pass along. I’d love your feedback on what kind of content we should do more of and what kind of content is less interesting, but my primary way of determining that is going to be how often things get passed around and shared.
And the cost?
It’s free. I plan on this always being a free service. There are a couple of Amazon affiliate ads on the site. I’d be much appreciative if once in a while you decide to buy something through them so Amazon pays me some affiliate fees, but only if you feel the service is worth it. The nice thing about Amazon affiliate is that it costs you zero, so it’s a tip jar that’s free to you, since 100% of what you pay is spent on the item you’re getting, and I get a couple of percent from Amazon for brokering the sale. My goal is simple: I’d like this site to pay its bills. Anything beyond that is gravy.
The Amazon affiliate model is, to me, the least painful and least intrusive advertising model I can use. Nothing is ever going to pop up over the content, pop under the content, lock you out of the content, or annoy the crap out of you to donate before letting you see the content. I’d like to think that lack of annoyance would be worth an occasional dollar in the tip jar, and for now, Amazon is where the tip jar lives…
Welcome! I’m hope you find this site interesting. If you do, subscribe and tell your friends. If you don’t… Tell me, so I can improve it. Over the next few weeks I’ll write some pieces on the research and thinking that went into the site and why I made some of the decisions I made. Hopefully you’ll find that interesting as well.
One of the things I like for my own use are my favorite images formatted for easy use as wallpapers on my computers and other devices. In the past I typically just hacked things together or used what was handy, and they rarely looked the way I wanted them to.
I decided it was time to do it right, and if I was going to create a way to build wallpapers in a systematic fashion, I might as well set things up so I could share with all of you, too.
So I have. Now available on my Wallpaper page is a set of three galleries with images formatted for three major device formats:
- Desktop Wallpapers: 1920w x 1080h
- iPad (4th Generation Retina): 2048w x 1536h
- iPhone 5: 640w x 1136h
These images are formatted because these are the devices I use, but are sized to be usable on many other devices as well. These, like all of my online images, are licensed under the Creative Commons non-commercial license. You are welcome to download them for your personal use, but not to post them to other sites or package them up in any distribution without my approval. Commercial re-use is not allowed.
Here are a few of my favorites that I’ve released in this first batch:
If you like them, I hope you’ll use and enjoy them and pass along links to them to the people you know so they can download them as well.
My goal is to add a couple of new images every month. When I do, I’ll pass along an update announcing them.
Let me know what you think and how well they work for you. And if you have images of mine you’d like to see me publish as wallpapers, let me know.
When Smugmug released their new design, I was impressed, and I decided it made sense to move my photos and portfolio galleries over to their system. On my site, this meant replacing my existing galleries built on NextGen Gallery. I like NextGen, but I get some nice features using Smugmug, including turnkey print store and the ability to do online licensing of digital images without having to build all of the ecommerce pieces or doing any of the infrastructure for billing or fulfillment. While I don’t expect print sales to be a big part of my setup, it’s enough of a hassle to build and maintain that outsourcing it to Smugmug made a lot of sense, especially given how much I liked their redesign.
Rebuilding my site to do this went almost flawlessly — until I wanted to fire up the front page slideshow. At that point, I realized I had a problem, because the slideshow you can embed on other websites is still Flash based. They work fine anywhere Flash is supported:
Or on your iPad?
That concept actually gave me the idea that led me to this solution. The galleries on Smugmug worked fine on non-Flash systems; they just haven’t had time to rewrite the external embed system to use that technology. If only I could embed one of these native galleries onto my web site….
In fact, you can. The answer is to use a Smugmug page and an Iframe. Iframe is an HTML technology that lets you embed a web page inside of another web page, and it’s well-supported across browsers; the only big gotcha is that newer releases of Firefox have set the default to require the user to take an action to load the iFrame in a cross-domain situation (like my case sharing something from smugmug.com onto chuqui.com; if I’d set up my smugmug site to display as photos. chuqui.com, Firefox would load it fine. That’s on my Todo list somewhere).
To set this up on Smugmug, log onto your account and select Organize Site. Select the front page of your site, and then use the Create Page option to create a new page.
Then select the page and click on Visit It to go to that page.
Then choose Customize This site, and you’ll go into the site editor attached to that page:
First thing you want to do is delete everything Smugmug puts on the page for you. With my design, it starts with just the breadcrumbs. Delete them so you end up with a blank page.
Then under Add Content Block in the Photo section you’ll find the Slideshow option. Drag and Drop it onto the page. Now select the gallery you want. You can configure this to however you want the display to look (this is why I have a Front Page Gallery).
When you’re done, you have a page that looks something like this (but with your photos):
A couple of notes: the admin menu at the top only shows up on your account when logged into smugmug. And the smugmug blurb at the bottom can’t be removed, and if that really bothers you, encourage Smugmug to make removal an option at one of their pricing levels. Me, I don’t mind it.
Now you can create the iframe to load that page onto your web site. It takes a bit of simple HTML and CSS geekery. Here’s what my site uses:
<div style="clear: both; width: 940px;"> <iframe src="http://chuqui.smugmug.com/Test" height="700" width="940"></iframe> </div>
You’ll need to tweak the width of the DIV to fit your design, and the height and width of the iframe to fit your slideshow. There are no specific ‘right’ numbers, it’s whatever seems to look right for you. You’ll want to do your testing with a second browser that isn’t logged in to your Smugmug account so that the top banner doesn’t display (remember, that only shows for you, and only if you’re logged onto Smugmug). I typically do my coding in Chrome and testing in Safari so I can see how the site looks to a non-logged-in user.
Using the Iframe the slideshow will show up fine on every browser except Firefox, and work on Firefox once the user approves loading the iframe (trapping this so you can display a note to the user is left an an experiment, if you care. that’s a small enough percentage of users that I don’t, and I assume most users running Firefox will figure this out quickly enough). It’ll look fine on an iPad and is usable on an iPhone and should be fine on equivalent Android tablets — not as pretty as a fully responsive mobile design, but IMHO it’s reasonable and doesn’t suck.
It’ll definitely solve this problem until Smugmug has time to get rid of Flash throughout their system, which I hope they do. Mobile access to this content is too important, and requiring Flash support to embed content is going to be increasingly a problem for them until this is fixed. But for now? This is a relatively safe and stable workaround that we can use.
Laurie and I just spent a week in Oregon on vacation, where, among other things, we actually took a vacation, and surprisingly enough (given my history) that involved a lot of not being online and not using a camera. Instead we wandered and explored, ate some pretty good food, and just kind of unplugged and unwound. I highly recommend it.
Since then I’ve been trying to finish up some projects that I started before we headed out of town.
The big one is that I’ve switched the photography part of my site and portfolio over to Smugmug (it was previously self-hosted within WordPress). The new Smugmug rocks and lived up to my expectations with one pain point that I was able to work through last night.
A nice side effect of that is that I can now offer prints and digital downloads for sale via the site. I’ve set things up so that you can get an 8×10 of an image for $15.99, 11×14 for $39.99 and 16×20 for $79.99. A couple of sizes of canvas wrapped prints are also available with 8×10 at $129 and 11×14 at $199. Digital Downloads are available for personal use for $3.99 and commercial usage for $29.99. The non-cost usage for Non-profits still exists and you need to contact me directly to arrange that. Full details on this are on my Prints and Licensing page.
This is the culmination of about six weeks of under the hood work — I’d been having recurring performance problems on the site and Laurie and I both have projects in the work where I decided it made sense to refresh the hosting setup; we’ve moved from a shared/virtual hosting setup to a VPS, which among other things gives me a much nicer scaling option if I ever need it, but it also means I have dedicated CPU and RAM profile for the site so it’s not going to get bogged down when one of the other users sharing the server has their site get busy.
It also gave me a chance to pull my site and Laurie’s site out and rebuild each from scratch in a new environment; we’ve been on the old hosting server since 2004 (and quite happy with them! they don’t offer a VPS server option, unfortunately) — and as you might imagine, the disk area on the old server was cluttered with the remains of a lot of projects and former projects. By pulling the production pieces out, it’s allowed me to clean up everything else with a minimum of fuss and risk and set things up so moving forward we don’t end up with a hosting setup that looks like it was rented by someone scheduled to go on Hoarders….
One aspect of this that you should be aware of: we’ve decided it’s time to retire the plaidworks.com domain. There’s a lot of history on that domain, and we’ve run it since 1995, but it doesn’t fit in any of our future plans and it’s an impressive spam magnet. If you’re still sending us email at that domain, you need to update your address book. It’s going to go dark sometime in the next few months.
And now, other than some minor updating to the theme of the blog to match the smugmug site, I am finally at the point where I wanted to be three weeks ago so this would all be done and stable before I went on the trip. Missed it by “this” much…
A Quick Note on the New Smugmug
A quick note on the new Smugmug, since I mentioned a pain point above. I really love the new look of Smugmug sites and the integration went quite easily with one exception: I needed to replace the gallery on the front page of the main site with one from Smugmug. The problem? Smugmug’s embedded galleries are still built in flash. That means they don’t work in browsers that don’t support Flash (like Safari) and on almost all mobile devices.
I worked through a number of options to get around this, and it’s a bit of a “why isn’t this fixed?” problem given that their non-embedded galleries all work fine on those platforms. Leaving it like that was not acceptable, but I wasn’t happy doing something like swapping in a static image if the gallery won’t load. I even considered disabling the front page and redirecting it to the front page of the portfolio site.
Ultimately, I found a solution that I consider to be a hack, but it’s one that works reliably and solves the issue in a way I think will work for the forseeable future. What I ended up doing was creating a page on the smugmug site and removing all chrome from it, and then adding in and configuring a gallery slideshow that did what I wanted. If you view that page in a browser, all you’ll see is the slideshow (and a bit of smugmug advertising).
I then go back into the HTML of the front page of my blog site, and I load that page in via an IFRAME. Since the native gallery works on all of the platforms, when it’s sucked onto the site it’ll work fine. Even though this site isn’t responsively designed, it looks okay on an iPad in landscape mode, and it even functions and is usable on an iPhone.
I’d love to not jump through these hoops to get this done, but it’s done, it works, and while I’ll probably go in and tweak it a bit, I like the result. It should work everywhere except the most recent versions of Firefox that now seem to have restrictions on cross-domain loading of IFRAMES (which I expect will annoy lots of sites around the net, except Firefox isn’t used widely any more). Once I get around to wiring up the Smugmug site to respond to photos.chuqui.com, even that problem goes away…
But still, Smugmug needs to get an iPad compatible embedded gallery going. I expect they will, but this page/iframe hack will work for most folks trying to get around this, I believe.
The smugmug site is built heavily around smart folders, which means I only need to upload an image once and it’ll migrate out to all of the appropriate places as if by magic. I’ll explain how I did that down the road, but it simplifies things massively and allows me to do almost all of the image organization within Lightroom instead of on Smugmug itself. Also a big win…
Now that I have print sales up and working, I expect all of you to go out and buy something. Have fun, and I really like this image on canvas…
I’d love to hear what you think, especially things that you think could be improved or that I broke. (me? break something? nah….) — I’m far from “done”, but I’m happy to leave the rest for later right now.
Because now that these pieces are done, one of the things I did on vacation was figure out this curation “thing” I’ve been experimenting with the last year or so, and now I’m ready to go build the damn thing and see what happens…
It’s amazing how integrated the internet has become in most of our lives, and how much we’ve come to assume it’s there. When you take a step back and think about how it’s changed things, it’s rather amazing.
I spent the last couple of weeks before vacation madly getting chuqui.com ready to transfer to a new host. A week before we left I pushed the button on the domain transfer. And nothing happened. and nothing happened. I finally figured out the problem (it helps to read the instructions), and the day before we left, I took a deep breath, prayed to the lord god murphy, and initiated the domain transfer again. (Kids, do not try this at home. I’m a professional. and I’m not stupid enough to transfer a web site the day before vacation. Well, I guess I am. Seriously, that’s a stupid thing to do….)
The domain transfer confirmation was waiting in my email inbox when I stopped for gas somewhere around Ukiah, so while I was filling up, I fired up a browser and confirmed the request. By the time I plopped into the hotel room in Fortuna, the domain had transferred and everything was running. I fired up the laptop and logged in through the hotel network, made a quick change to the wordpress config to use the chuqui.com domain as the primary domain, and then we wandered off for dinner.
It wasn’t that long ago that assuming that kind of network access was unthinkable. Today, managing web sites via a phone in a gas station in the middle of rural america? Well, that connectivity is not only assumed, it’s demanded.
I think we’re already at a time where people have trouble remembering what it was like before Yelp and Urbanspoon, where wandering into a random city and finding a good place to eat was more luck than adventure.
I still think we’re just scratching the surface of what we can do with all of those. Those of you who make fun of Google Glass, it all sounds very familiar to the kind of snide remarks aimed at the early generation cell phones and pagers. Just wait until the first group of kids that grow up with it and make it their own and take the idea that Glass represents and optimize it for their interests. The first generation anythings are always a bit rough and unrealized. But they show the path forward.
(for those that don’t remember, folks of my age were given pagers as a way for work to make sure they could find us when something broke, and mostly, we hated them. And then the kids looked at a pager, and turned it into a way to make sure they could all stay connected and turn it into a social tool. When I was Apple I was lucky to work with one of those kids, and it taught me to try to look past generational prejudices and watch what the younger folks — the 15-25 crowd — do when they get their hands on something, because it’s generally nothing like what we old pharts expect to use the technology for, and it’s going to be interesting and fun and make their lives work better…. Beware when the folks like me look at new technology from the viewpoint of old styles and standards….)
Recently Smugmug unveiled their long-in-development revamp of the service (Trey has a good review of the changes and new capabilities). I took a look at what they did and I was pretty much blown away; they’ve done a very nice job of updating the look and improving the infrastructure. The more I dug into it, the more impressed I was, and I can heap nothing but praise on the Smugmug team for what they accomplished. They resolved most of the issues people tended to gripe about the Smugmug service, including all of my issues.
The only significant missing piece is a competent blogging module. You can’t, for instance, take a site like mine and move it to Smugmug yet. You could take a big chunk of it, but if you’re running any kind of significant blogging piece, you still need to host it separately. In some quick talks with Smugmug’s support team, it’s clear they realize this and it’s on their roadmap, so I won’t nag them about it (too much).
But the lack of it complicates answering a question like “Where do I host my blog and photos” if you’re a serious or professional photographer looking for a simple answer. If Smugmug hosted blogs as well as Squarespace I think my recommendation to everyone who aren’t committed to self-hosting would be Smugmug, but there are still enough capability differences between Smugmug, Squarespace and Photoshelter that the decision can get complicated (and fodder for a future, long, and possibly really boring blog post… but for now: the more important your blog is to you, the more you should be leaning towards Squarespace. The more your photos take precedence over everything, the more I’d be leaning towards Smugmug. Photoshelter strikes a nice balance between…)
I’ve been using NextGen Gallery on my WordPress blog. They’ve just released a major upgrade, which is undergoing the typical 2.0 birthing pains, so while it looks interesting, I haven’t installed it for testing quite yet. I rather like how it interacts with WordPress, and the new release seems to be quite nice, and integrates some features that will let me retire some third party additions I’m currently using in my design. (Maybe. in theory. we’ll see).
In theory, these are decisions you can make that you don’t have to revist for three or four years, or longer. I like my current blog/site design, and I really like the underlying pieces that it’s built on. There’s no inherent need to tear it to pieces, not without a really good reason. To do so would take time and time is always a critical resource in life that I’d rather not waste on IT geekery.
Unless there’s a really good reason. Smugmug may have given me that reason with their redesign. It seems to be that good.
The Smugmug update happened as I’ve been trying to figure out some necessary changes to my web sites. My blog and various other things all live on a shared server environment that we’ve been using with great success since about 2004. Some of the things we use that server for are ready to be retired, and Laurie and I both have plans to add some new toys to the mix over the next few months, including a blog Laurie is ready to launch on a new domain. I was just about ready to commit to a couple of VPS servers, one for my blog/domain and one for Laurie’s, when Smugmug’s new setup hit.
But for now, all of that’s on hold while I figure this out. It’d be insane to make the move and then try to bring Smugmug on board too, or move to it. I can’t wait too long, either, because as this week’s blog outage pointed out, my old site is having some challenges (which, I’ll note, my existing hosting company is working on resolving. But it still makes me think it’s time to upgrade the server infrastructure, given I’ve been living on that class of server for about a decade).
All of this turns into a compromise between the capabilities the options give me, the cost in time and resources (and money) that it’s going to take to implement the changes, and the cost in time and resources (and money).
A quick look at the various options bring forward these:
Stuff everything on an all-in-one hosting service like Photoshelter or Squarespace — rejected because I’m really not interested in a 100% redesign right now, and I definitely don’t want to deal with the time needed for a proper data migration. (shudder) — or the pain of breaking all of those URLs that currently exist on the blog. If I were a new(er) blogger without a legacy of thousands of blog articles to worry about moving around, honestly, I probably would.
Stuff everything on Smugmug — I can’t, because they can’t support my blogging needs. If/when they do this, then they become a full peer competitor of Photoshelter and Smugmug, and if their blogging tools are as good as their photo tools, then this segment of the market really becomes interesting….
(Digression: What Smugmug is today is a really kick-butt photo hosting site, not a one-stop-shop for a full online presense. If you need that, Photoshelter is my preference, but Squarespace isn’t far behind. And Smugmug is a lot closer to taking them on today than they were a month ago.
But today, I think their primary competitor is 500px.com. Where a month ago I would have given the nod to 500px as the better service, with this redesign, it’s clearly swung back to Smugmug, except for mobile apps, where 500px does a good job. Flickr is in this race, too, but the way a Kia would be in a race between a BMW and a Mercedes. In terms of pricing, Smugmug is the most expensive, but has the best feature set and presentation; I can’t even say Flickr is the cheapest, because a comparable set of features on 500px is cheaper than Flickr’s “pro” or “ad free” versions. Which should worry Flickr, and I wish them good luck figuring out how to be more competitive iwth their peers. /Digression)
Host WordPress for the blog, and then host images on the blog server: effectively what I do today, using NextGen Gallery. It works, but if I wanted to get serious about offering print sales or e-commerce, it’d involve a good bit of work. Work that I’d get “for free” if I moved all of that over to Smugmug. Which leads to….
Host WordPress for the blog, host images on Smugmug for display and blog publication. Which effectively means ripping NextGen Gallery out of the site and replacing all of those images and galleries with equivalent on SmugMug. so when I said “for free” that was ignoring implementation time and costs. Both solutions are fairly complicated and fairly time consuming. There is a middle ground….
Host WordPress and blog images as today, add Smugmug specifically as a print/ecommerce sub-site, and all new imaging is hosted there instead of the blog server. In other words, leave NextGen gallery in place as legacy material, and put new material on Smugmug and over time slowly migrate there. This would have the lowest implementation hassle, but ultimately the highest costs in things like server expenses and maintenance/upkeep.
None of those are perfect or easy options for me. I’m actually leaning towards that last one; it’s the bigger pain in the long run, but the easiest pain in the short run. It also limits the risk of adoption. There’s even a working example of this — check out Nicolesy’s print shop.
I kinda wish Smugmug’s new system wasn’t quite as good as it is, because they’ve complicated my decision. But it is, and it’s a worthy system to consider integrating into whatever it is you’re trying to do online.
It’s fair to say I’m really impressed with the new SmugMug, enough so to figure how out to best spend some money on them….
For some reason, the posting system for “things your find interesting” wedged for a few days. I’ve beaten on it with a stick and now it promises to behave.Â
While I was working on it, I decided to back off on the frequency I’m posting it, so it’ll only show up twice a week now. If you want direct and immediate access to that information, it has its own RSS feed over on tumblr at “Chuq Snarks“, and you’re welcome to subscribe to it.Â
The tumblr setup was very much an experiment and while it was an improvement on the older hack (readership has about doubled from extremely tiny to fairly small), there are aspects I still don’t like. It has helped me understand what I’d like a setup like that to be,a dn so I’ve started thinking about what it would take to build out a system to handle that information better. Not sure when it’ll happen, but now that the site redesign is done, I can put some energy into it and see what pops out (if anything).
I took a quick look at metrics on the site since I pushed the updates. I’m thrilled with the change. Before the change, the site was seeing about 1.4 pages per visit, and an average visit was about a minute. Not great numbers. The day I pushed the new front page — before I got the rest of the updates in place — that jumped to 2.12 pages per visit and 2:35 minutes per visit. The site’s been live about ten days now. Just looking at the last two days? Those numbers are 2.9 pages per visit and 3:44 duration. The one week average is 2.7 and 3:19, so the numbers seem to be trending up as I start cranking new content again.
That’s all really encouraging. what matters, though, is what the numbers will look like a month from now, after the newness settles dow and everything is back in a rhythm. but it’s a great start.
How’s that compare to the past? Looking at 4-1 through 4/10 against the previous month 3/1 through 3/10: pages per visit went from 1.37 to 2.44, up 78%. And time on site went from 0:57 to 2:52 — up 202%. Visits are up 13% and page views up 101%.
I just finished an editing exercise, going through the site and deleting blog posts that I didn’t want visible any more. By the time I was done, I slimmed down the blog by about 20% (those of you who believe content should be forever, cover your eyes!). Most of what got deleted was hockey related, and mostly day of game or link-snark entries. I can’t think anyone really cares if I thought Patrick marleau had a good game five years ago.
I’m trying to be careful not to over-edit the site, but I want the site’s content to really say something useful. I left in anything where I actually wrote commentary, vs a link snark piece that was little more than a pointer to something and a line or two proving how smart I was… That is the kind of blog post that might get some interest for a week or two and then disappear into the bowels of the archive and never looked at again. I’d rather that stuff be done.
Something to remember: if you’re trying to improve the quality of your content, you can do that two ways. Clearly, you should spend time and energy on creating better new content — but you can also improve the overall quantity by deleting the weakest content.
I’ve recently come to a new understanding, one that I’ll talk about in some detail soon, and it’s that I would much rather be known for a dozen really good things than as the guy with a million things that nobody ever looks at.
What are the dozen things you want someone to remember you by? Can you link to them? And how do you plan on improving that list over the next year?
FWIW, my first approximation of an answer to that is to look at the images on the front page of this site, and the articles linked in the sidebar to the right. It’s not a perfect list and I’m still thinking this through and refining it, but it’s a good start….