I’ve been working on a couple of behind-the-scenes changes these past couple of days.
First, I employed some new server optimizations that probably won’t do much.
I also looked at our anonymous logs to see what kinds of deal posts were most popular last year, so that we can better spend our time and focus for this year’s Black Friday and Holiday shopping season. I have a bunch of “do you expect to see any deals on…” requests, but I was still curious to see what types of deals were most popular.
And then I saw what happened to the mobile vs. desktop trend…
Here’s what the trend looked like last January when I started making notes and looking at areas of ToolGuyd.com layout improvements:
Here’s the breakdown for the past 30 days (10/9 – 11/7/2019):
- Mobile: 64.79% of users
- Desktop: 28.93% of users
- Tablet: 6.28% of users
Basically, these numbers reflect how many ToolGuyd.com visitors are reading the site via mobile devices, tablets, and desktop devices including laptops and computers.
The ratio of mobile to desktop users is now ~2.24 mobile visitors for every desktop visitor.
This is what entries will now look like on homepage, “archive”, and search result pages. The “excerpt” is behaving a little odd, and I might remove it entirely. Is it really needed when we try for post titles to be very descriptive?
In any case, I tried to make things a little cleaner.
And this is what entries now look like on smartphones. Tablets have a sort of hybrid view.
I first started experimenting with larger photos, but with 20 post headlines on the homepage and archive pages, that led to a lot of scrolling and larger image file sizes.
With this type of layout, the thumbnail images are smaller, and I reduced the number of category links to just one, and it can be customized if desired. I’m hoping to find a way to code some extra versatility into this feature, but I’m taking a day or two off from looking at mind-numbing coding.
The mobile view isn’t the best it could be – yet – but I think the work I put in these past couple of days are an improvement. The headlines are more easily read as you scroll or swipe down, and while this might be a bad thing for us (time on page is an important metric), it also means there’s a greater possibility some of you might peek below the list of headlines.
I have not paid much attention to what goes below the content on mobile view because not many people look there. But maybe I can add some category views, e.g. “new cordless power tools,” or simply make the “recent comments” section a little easier to reach.
Having a “featured post” section is on my to-do list, and it has been for a while, but I have not yet found an easy and appealing way to do it. I look at magazine websites and see some aspects I like, but I also see a ton of clutter. But also, magazines have people on staff who optimize these things, and a lot of magazines produce a lot more content that we do.
A lot of magazines also now have “commerce teams” and “deal advisors” and “best products staff,” all seemingly designed to funnel you towards Amazon purchases and affiliate commissions.
Sure, we’re supported by affiliate commissions and revenue too, but I’m seeing a lot of nonsense these days.
Some websites and magazines seem designed – and I can’t think of a better way to describe it – to be so messy, confusing, and all over the place so as to confuse you into spending as much time on-site as possible. Maybe as you stumble around the homepage you’ll find something interesting to read.
To be fair, online magazines and similar sites cover a wide range of topics and publish a LOT everyday. ToolGuyd has very valued contributors, but we publish a fraction of the volume of major digital magazines.
My point is this – I regularly look for ways to improve ToolGuyd’s “front page experience,” but I’ve been short on ideas and inspiration.
Browsing behaviors have changed. Smartphones and being always-connected have changed how we look for information online.
When I designed and revised ToolGuyd’s look and layout over the years, the goal was to provide short paths to the content readers seemed to be most interested in.
Times have changed, and I’m trying hard to adapt the site’s look and feel. It’s a harder task these days, to predict what readers want to access, and how to provide access to such information in a convenient and efficient manner.
I considered consolidating ToolGuyd’s categories, but there’s a lot of content that doesn’t fit into a “bucket.”
Take for instance my post about how Dewalt’s cordless drills are built in the USA. There’s no quick pathway to this post. Sure, you can get there by looking at Dewalt brand coverage, our Dewalt 20V Max section, or cordless, drills & drivers, editorial, or made in USA sections.
There are “related posts,” which I need to optimize, and “next post” and “previous post” links that a couple of readers asked me to restore after the last major site conversion a few years ago.
Maybe the homepage will get a third column for desktop browsers. The menu might be reworked for mobile browsers. There’s still a lot of work that needs to be done, mostly minor things, at least in my opinion.
I will be experimenting with a couple of different tool-related content ideas in 2020, or at least I hope to.
Right now, email newsletter images are broken. There’s also some kind of Facebook issue that isn’t accepting out auto-post submissions. I’m working on figuring those out too. The Facebook thing seems to be a known issue, but the email newsletter image issue is really weird.
Lastly, we’re ramping up our holiday season tool deal coverage. Last year I organized the deals a little differently in a way that I found helped me better sort things out, and so that’s what I started off with this year. Every year it changes a little. I figure that if it helps me, it might help you. You’ll see some links “stickied” in a colored box at the top of every page. If you have suggestions or ideas on what else to put there, please let me know!
As always, feedback is always much appreciated. It’s not easy wearing so many hats all the time, and your feedback and input helps make that easier.
Also, a big thank you to Benjamen and my wife, who have both faced a lot of “how does this look?” questions over the years, with more to come. For instance, which shade of blue do you prefer for links? Here’s a similar “site changes/feedback” post from two years ago, in case you think I’m joking about quizzing people about different shades of blue.
I visit ToolGuyd.com on a daily basis, and some of my preferences steer changes. Many of you visit ToolGuyd very regularly as well, and I care about your feedback.
Goodnight, and I hope everyone has a great weekend!