A new theme as Technology Bloggers turns 3!

A chocolate cakeImage Credit

Three years ago today, on April the 13th 2011, Technology Bloggers was born. The blog has changed a lot over the years, however we have always stuck with the same theme. Today everything changes.

Technology Bloggers new logo

A new logo (version 2.5) for our third birthday.

Today’s theme change is clearly the biggest visual change the blog has ever had.

We are now using a theme called Celebrate. There are many things I do not like about the new theme, but there were many things I didn’t like about TwentyTen, (our old theme) but slowly, over time I ironed out most of the creases.

The font is my main bugbear at the moment, but at least it is legible – Celebrate’s default font was very thin.

Feedback and suggestions are very welcome.

Anyway, watch this space.

Looking Back

Once in a while it doesn’t hurt to take a glance back to see how far the blog has come – in fact I believe it is probably quite healthy to review how we got to where we are – so here is a quick snapshot of Technology Bloggers progress, three years in.

Visitors

  • In February of this year, we received our 150,000th visit
  • This month we hit a quarter of a million pageviews
  • Earlier in the month we also received our 135,000th unique visitor
  • The average time spent on the blog is 1 minute and 29 seconds – just enough time to read an article

Community

  • Over 80 people have written articles on Technology Bloggers
  • Together we have published 499 articles – post 500 will be the first of a new era
  • We have received over 4,400 comments from hundreds of different readers
  • It is now possible to comment on articles through WordPress, Facebook and Google+

External Interaction

  • In the last year we have gained hundreds of subscribers
  • We now have almost 400 Twitter followers
  • Over 300 people receive updates from Technology Bloggers on Facebook
  • More than 230 people subscribe to our feed – with over 50 people subscribing via email

Looking Forward

I want Technology Bloggers to be more author focused from now on. The blog was founded as a community blog, to be focused on a strong base of authors – not just a lot of guest posts which is what we have seen in the past. I will be developing the theme to help promote the people behind the content. As always your suggestions and ideas will drive the blog forward.

Very soon we are going to be introducing a whole new wave of guest bloggers and authors – and maybe an editor or two as well.

I leave you with this: just look how far we have come…

Two images of Technology Bloggers

Technology Bloggers shortly after it launched and three years on – before the theme change.

Over and out. :-)
Christopher

Changes to our writing structure

Change happens. Often change is neither good or bad, it’s just different.

Technology Bloggers logo (2.0)Here comes some good change.

When I founded Technology Bloggers almost three years ago, the idea was meant to be a blog that was built by a community of people. We did have a good diverse mix of writers, however over time quality started to dip and many writers only wrote one post – which was not the aim. As you may have noticed, it is only really myself and Jonny who post now, as bringing new talent through takes such a long time.

One of the advantages I have now is that I understand blogging a lot better, and this has helped me to step back and look at the system we have to see if it is working. It isn’t. We are getting too many applications and it is becoming hard to keep up with them all. Also, many of the applications are not what we are looking for.

Changes

Today the whole writer landscape changes. We do away with the old system of contributors, authors, editors and admins and move to a new system of guest bloggers, authors and editors. The old Write For Us page has been updated to reflect the changes, and is now called Join Us. Head over there for details on each of the new roles and how to apply.

In brief, guest bloggers are those who write one-off, special posts for the blog. They are already well respected individuals in their field and will only be posting occasionally.

Authors post more frequently and are a more visible part of the community in the long-term. Editors are those who post very regularly and also have additional responsibilities.

Everyone who has recently applied to become a contributor will soon be sent an email informing them of our new structure and asking them to check out our new structure if they want to apply. All current authors and contributors will also be contacted to let them know what we are doing.

Our cluttered Our Writers page has gone, and it has been replaced with a new page to reflect the changes. Here you will be able to find out much more about who writes for us than you could before.

Jonny Hankins Profile

Jonny’s old profile (top) and his new profile (bottom) on our new Our Writers page.

I have more (exciting) changes planned for the very near future, however I would like to know your thoughts too.

Do you feel these new changes are fair and will take us in the direction we need to go? Do you have any more suggestions or comments on anything related to the blog?

Thank you for your time, over and out.

Goodbye CommentLuv

“…blogging has changed, and the blog itself is no-longer where many people read and interact. Read in the feed and comment on social media. Blogging is still there, but I think comments are slowly dying…

A feed and social profile were luxuries years ago, however now it seems they are part of blogging itself – if you don’t have them do you have a blog at all?”

That is a quote from a comment I left in June this year.

Digital media explorer Ari Herzog has noted how blog comments are evolving, and he now offers his readers the ability to leave a comment via the standard (vanilla) WordPress commenting system, as well as via Facebook and Google Plus.

Blogging is still very much alive, however as my opening quote suggests, the way authors go about publishing content and how readers then go abut digesting and debating this, has changed significantly in recent times.

CommentLuv

Just over two years ago I wrote a post detailing why you should use the CommentLuv plugin. Today very few 0f the reasons I state still hold true.

I have now deactivated CommentLuv on Technology Bloggers for these simple reasons:

Two comments with CommentLuv links

Two great comments with irrelevant CommentLuv links.

  • CommentLuv looks messy – take a look at the two comments to the right. They are both great comments, but they are followed by an untidy, irrelevant link. If someone is interesting in your site, they will check it out anyway.
  • CommentLuv promotes spam – having looked through our comments, very few of our genuine visitors actually take advantage of CommentLuv, yet almost all the spam comments we get include a CommentLuv link.
  • CommentLuv increases load time – you know how obsessed I am with speed, so much so, any plugin which significantly impacts load time is now under scrutiny. CommentLuv is quite a heavy plugin which I have found has a big impact on page load time, and that extra lag isn’t justifiable for what it offers.
  • CommentLuv is bad for SEO – one of the key things Google has been clamping down on of late is irrelevant links. If you run a site about lawnmowers, and you have a large number of links coming from a technology website, it probably doesn’t do you any favours. Similarly, if I have written an article on something tech related, comments with random links introducing irrelevant keywords, dilute the content and probably don’t do my article any favours.
Google SEO chart

CommentLuv is arguable bad for SEO.

CommentLuv was once a great plugin, but its time has passed. The web is changing, blogging more so than ever, so it is time to say goodbye to CommentLuv.

Monitive – 1 year on

Last year the founder of Monitive.com, Lucian Daniliuc, contacted me, asking if we wanted to run a competition to giveaway 10 Monitive licenses; I accepted and we launched our first ever competition.

I was also given a Monitive account, and have been using it for a year now. In this post I am going to review my experience of the service after a years use.

Latency

One of the main things I use Monitive for is to monitor site response times. Latency is very important, and can have a huge effect on traffic, as the longer people have to wait, the more people you loose before the page loads.

With superfast broadband, many of us are becoming incredibly impatient, and if something isn’t responding, we might ditch a site in a matter of milliseconds.

Before using Monitive, I had no idea how long Technology Bloggers took to respond. Monitive allows me to see on a daily basis how long the blog takes to respond, in multiple locations, all around the world. I know that if you live in Liechtenstein or Ireland, the blog on average seems to take around half a second (500 ms) to respond. In the UK it’s about 0.6 seconds, whereas in the USA, it takes just over a second.

This lets me ask the site’s host why the latency varies so much, and ask them what they can do to improve global response times.

Response times Technology Bloggers - April 2012 to April 2013

A chart showing the average global response times of Technology Bloggers.

Uptime

Whilst response time is important, it has no value if your site is offline. Monitive is accessing Technology Bloggers every 5 minutes from hundreds of locations around the world, to ensure that the site is live and accessible. If the blog goes offline for more than 3 minutes, I am sent an email. These are my personal settings, you can make checks/notifications more/less frequent, and can get notified via SMS and Twitter.

Quite disappointingly I report that Technology Bloggers went offline 23 times in the last 30 days. During this period, you couldn’t access the site for more than 10 minutes on 6 occasions. If I wasn’t using Monitive, I would only have spotted one or two of these outages myself. I can now report these to the site’s host, and ask why the site has gone offline so many times.

Uptime graph 2013

A chart of the uptime and downtime Technology Bloggers experienced in April/May 2013.

Unless you pay for load balancing, to mirror your site on various servers across the world, and effectively distribute traffic, to ensure 100% uptime, you should expect some downtime. It is expected that most sites will have some go down at some point, however how frequently this happens, and how long they remain offline for is something to consider.

We have a 99.9% uptime guarantee on the blog, yet this year so far, uptime has been 99.85%, meaning around five hours of downtime has occurred this year already.

Improvements

One thing I don’t like about the service is that it doesn’t allow on demand checks. I think it would be very useful to be able to check the status (including response time) of a site at a desired location, whenever you want; but as of yet, this can’t be done.

As I have set Monitive to check the blog every 5 minutes, and then notify me after 3 minutes of downtime, it can be a while before the system updates. For example, if the site is checked at 13:00 and at 13:01 I check and the site is down, it wont be checked again until 13:05, and I wont be notified until 13:08. In such a situation, being able to check the current status, could be useful.

Chadrack

One of the winners of our Monitive competition was Chadrack Irobogo. I asked him what he thought of the service.

“I can say, it was great because throughout the period I was able to know what was going on with my site. Before then, I really did not know anything about site monitoring. It was during the use of this program I learned when my blog was either down or up. And all of these was done without my doing anything. Unfortunately, I cant really give any details about the program. Only thing I can say is, it is really good.”

I agree with Chadrack on his point about the service being an eye opener to downtime. I really didn’t understand how often sites go down, even if only for very short periods of time.

Like Chadrack, Monitive is the first commercial website monitoring service I have used, so I don’t know how Monitive compares to its competitors. I am however suitable impressed by their services to want to keep using them.

If you are interested in Monitive’s services, do check out their uptime monitoring website. I have found website monitoring very useful, and am thankful to Monitive for my license, and for giving us prizes for our competition last year.