(There are three writeups.org donation drives a year – February, June, October.)
Let me tell you how the writeups.org (worg) project is going. No, no I insist.
1/ Big Sweep’s done
I made a big push during the Summer, and it’s *finally* over.
So now everything on the dang site has a Context section, proper hyperlinks, checked layout, no/few overlong sentences and paragraphs, fewer typos, and so on and so forth. These are the set of minimal features that started getting deployed in mid-2016.
That doesn’t mean all entries are to our target quality standards. If I could I’d redo about 75% of everything from scratch so it’s a good as it can be.
(I can’t *believe* just how many additions and improvements I end up doing when re-reading some of my stuff, even though it received a complete review but one or two years ago. I’ve learned a fair bit in three years.)
This also means I can take a breather. And that now my WORG work time can be more creative and less drudgetastic… Except of course for the small matter of the thousands of illustrations that need to be redone from digital.
2/ The bottom of the barrel
The Big Sweep was done from most read to least read entries. So the last leg of the work was dealing with the bottom 2% of the site.
Some of these are good articles. It’s just people can’t tell before reading them, since they’re original creations or about truly obscure characters. Few if any people are going to spontaneously search for them.
Some, well, they actually are the bottom 2% of the site, quality-wise. Something has to be. Say, cliché and under-textured characters created by teenagers 20 years ago. So I sometimes wonder if I should delete some entries that I consider complete dead weight.
But heh, I’ve repeatedly seen people think that what I consider crap is excellent. Any entry I delete might be someone’s favourite. So let’s not. There are many other, better ways to improve site quality.
Our version of PHP is finally up to date. The pages load markedly faster since mid-August.
It’s yet another factor that allows us to handle a growing traffic without having to get a markedly more expensive server. Faster PHP requests mean a much more fluid requests queue.
Loading faster is also good for Google visibility. But as previously discussed it’s not that beneficial. With every year clicks are more concentrated on the top three or four search results, and in our case these inevitably will be Wikpedia and Wikia/Fandom pages.
And even *these* are getting pushed way down the screen under paid results, site snippets, the “people ask” box, video results, image results or whichever. Nowadays, a (small) majority of Google searches *doesn’t* lead to visiting anything outside of Google’s pages or sites.
(Which also means that social media buzz becomes even more critical, but that’s another subject.)
4/ Please form an orderly queue
Over the last 12 months, we’ve done a bit more than one million different visitors (“uniques”, in jargon). Actually it’s been the case since late 2018, but I hadn’t checked the stats.
This too doesn’t mean that much. Since we don’t sell anything and have minimal ads (please whitelist us in your adsblocker).
5/ HD illustrations
As hinted in 1/, I have resumed redoing images in HD format – that is, from digital reissues of comics. It’s something I haven’t had the time for in months.
Mind, since we currently have more than 35,000 illustrations on the site, any work on that front is a drop in the ocean. And most readers will only look at most illustrations for fractions of a second (especially on mobile, where our layout isn’t fully optimised yet).
So there’s no business cases for spending so much time crafting better pictures. But since we’re not a business, who cares.
6/ Layout glitch
There’s a layout glitch on WORG. To my knowledge it only affects people with an up-to-date Chrome and who use a zoom level of 110% or more. It is limited to having the title for the game stats float down or up a bit.
I don’t think it’s fixable on my end. Since it’s likely Google having changed the way they support some aspect of our responsive design code.
7/ WORG 2021 ?
Now that the format that began deployment in 2016 is *mostly* there, it’s time to shift sights onto the next one.
It’s the main point of donations – the more time passes, the more technical the requirements get, and the more I need to hire pros. Wot are expensive.
It’s not going to be super-fast. In good part because I’ll need to move my disabled arse to go meet contractors and the like. A WORG 2021 would need fairly specific talent, so it may not actually occur in 2021.
Furthermore, waiting for Google’s AMP efforts (and speed-focused partnership with WordPress) to mature is the safer, less expensive option.
The broad lines would be :
- Go mobile-first. That means that the pages are designed to be comfortable to read on a smartphone, and also work fine on tablets, laptops, desktops, etc.. That’s different from the current responsive approach, which is designed for desktops then scales down to smaller displays.
Our traffic has been majority-mobile-devices for a while now.
- Improve speed. Our basics are okay, but I added some stuff since 2016 that isn’t as tightly optimised as what Jacques (the 2016 contractor) did. I could adjust the PHP loading orders, but I’m not confident enough in my non-skills to do that.
There’s also various considerations about AMP, fonts, the WordPress optimisation roadmap, etc..
- Search engine shift. We got a *huge* amount of mileage from Open Search Server, and saved a tonne of money.
But now ElasticSearch is mature and affordable enough, and our advertisement income regular enough, that shifting to a new engine and adding polish to the current rough presentation is viable.
Still, even a very cheap monthly subscription is a significant cost given the shoestring budget.
- Small tweaks to the visual design.
I’m not considering strong changes to the visual identity at this stage. What we’ve got works fine, it’s clean, and it aged well. Mobile-first means pages that are less dense (one column rather than two), but since our layout is already fairly sparse…
So anyway, donations are welcome to keep the servers, the caches, the firewalls, the Photoshop™ subscription, etc. running. So we can keep developing and embettering this site.