Testing, 1, 2, 3. Is this thing on? We’ve just gone through a domain change. And a website redesign.
Between designing other people’s websites to help them make more money, and working on this site to make it more effective, I feel like I’ve been living underground for a couple of months.
Back in September and October, Amy and I moved our home office out to Petrifying Springs Park on many days. Reading, writing, making and taking calls is much more enjoyable in a folding recliner — and there’s the added bonus of Frisbee breaks.
A lot of reading was done there — books like:
- Website Optimization: Speed, Search Engine & Conversion Rate Secrets by Andrew B. King
- Google AdWords For Dummies by Howie Jacobson
- Landing Page Optimization: The Definitive Guide to Testing and Tuning for Conversions by Tim Ash … and
- Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, the classic by Steve Krug
Besides gaining insights that will make my clients’ site better, I was inspired to significantly redesign my own ramshackle Web home. I wanted to implement a bunch of these ideas all together. That meant not quite starting from scratch, but close.
The old domain — Czerniec.com — was unique but not memorable. MarkCz.com is better (and it nicely complements AmyCz.com).
I had been separating my business and personal selves, but this was pointless. Wouldn’t it make sense for friends to see what I’m working on, or to share a recipe with clients? These things should be more like different rooms under the same roof.
Speaking of which, why was I paying $25 per year for a Flickr pro account when I could just as easily display my photos on my own site? A great deal of the whole new media industry is driven by the content and labor of unpaid nonemployees. We take pictures, we write, we create videos, and we post it all on, say, Facebook, generating page views for Facebook — but nothing for ourselves.
It was time to change Web hosts. My previous host gave me very acceptable service, but could not match the ease and attention to detail I experienced in using BlueHost.com’s Web hosting services for some of my clients. It’s so nice when things just work the way they should.
I decided to stick with Movable Type Pro as my Content Management System because I like its customizable power and static publishing. However, I needed to create a whole new set of templates for the new look, and also to make my site more search engine friendly. This even extended to the file structure, to make my URLs more friendly as well.
The Disqus comment system has been dropped from my blog. It didn’t incorporate pre-existing comments, its styling sometimes changed without notice, and it became a noisy echo chamber by automatically reposting tweets and retweets which became more numerous than the actual comments. I have returned to Movable Type’s internal comment system by hand-collating both streams of previous comments. They may not be quite as pretty yet, but it’s a start.
Let’s just say I have spent a lot of hours tweaking computer code and researching solutions to obscure technical issues over the past couple of months. I can’t tell you how grateful I am to Amy for her patience when I have been lost in thought counting pixels, or over-enthusiastic about some detail of CSS.
There is plenty more to be done. My most recent photos, for example, are from 1999. There are sidebar widgets to write and email templates to design. But I have at least made the jump from the old site to the new one. Now I will at least be able to write a fresh blog post from time to time, without worrying about adding to an obsolete site.
Thanks to those of you who have inquired about my well-being. These have been trying times for the whole world, and certainly we’re experiencing that too, but I have not felt as excited about what I’m doing in a long while.