Above: an image from the slight mobile-friendly redesign from 3 years ago. It’s mostly unrelated to this discussion.
Some Services are Down
So, a few days ago, things got… weird with a plugin that had recently updated. Somehow, that plugin started bogging everything down, leading to slow loading and other experience-disrupting behavior.
It’s been 2 days, and all I know is that disabling the plugin makes the ToolGuyd.com run a lot faster and smoother. Tech support hasn’t gotten back to me, presumably because they now have paid business and enterprise service levels they want me to upgrade to, for “Priority” service.
It’s a service we’ve been using here for years, one that’s bloated with tons of modules and features, most of which ToolGuyd doesn’t use.
But, here are the services that we did use, which are down for the moment:
- Automatic posting to Facebook and Twitter
- Related posts
- Social sharing buttons
- “Pretty math” (I’ve used this maybe 4 times ever)
- Advanced spellcheck – I used this all the time, and it helps catch some typos and grammatical errors
Right now, I haven’t restored any of these functions using other 3rd party plugins. Yet. It’s something I’m still looking into.
ToolGuyd now loads via secure https, instead of http. It was a chore to do, and I think I solved all of the compatibility issues that came up. But if you see something that doesn’t look right, please let me know!
Both are my kids are out of the house most days (my daughter started nursery recently, and my son’s in preschool), and so I can spend huge swaths of time in front of a computer. It’s not something I like to do, at least more than I have to, but that’s usually what it takes to work on ToolGuyd site design and development.
I aim to refine the top menu, work on the sidebar (for desktop users), improve the look of the front page (desktop and mobile), and maybe add convenient shortcuts or sections to the home page.
Now’s the time for you to chime in with any criticisms, complaints, or compliments about the site. If there’s a feature you wanted added, let us know. If there’s something you cannot do without, let us know. If you’ve had trouble with a specific feature of the site, please let us know that too.
Facebook & Twitter Postings
As mentioned, these are down for the time being. If there’s interest, I can try my best to find a substitute service, or post about new posts there manually.
It’s not something I really want to spend too much time on, since Facebook only shows posts to maybe 1/10th of our followers. Why? That’s their advertising business model.
Is this something that you guys found useful? If so, I can hard-code a simplistic system that shows some related posts. I don’t want to use the old service I used, before the current one that’s been slowing things down tremendously, because it can bog things down in different ways.
But if it’s something you found useful or help, I’ll see what I can do.
Did you ever use any of the sharing buttons?
I always thought the “email to someone” button was useful, but I don’t think the “Share:” button strip was ever heavily used. If someone wants to share something on social media, they’re probably in the habit of doing it manually, right?
I liked the way the JetPack service did things, and won’t use the buttons supplied by social media networks. Why? Because there’s a lot of bloat in some of them, and tracking scripts too.
I hate it when I look at something online, and a Facebook script passes info to Instagram, which shows me targeted ads on my phone. How else can that happen if not for hidden tracking scripts?
There’s a ToolGuyd’s Top Tool Picks widget on post pages, below the comments. I’m going to strip that away soon, once I’m ready to dig back into coding.
Originally, I had been interested in coming up with new selections monthly, posting about them too. It seemed like a good way to keep things interesting.
But I haven’t been updating them. That makes it kind of useless as an editorial feature. And as a potential source of ad revenue, nope.
For it to be worthwhile in a revenue perspective, I’d have to move it upwards, maybe before comments. And since I don’t update it manually very often, I’d be better off going with an automatic widget which offers recommendations based on post contents.
While I might be open to the automatic product search or selection option, it doesn’t appeal to me right now. And I certainly don’t want to make that more IN YOUR FACE. So as soon as I’m ready to dig into the code, it’ll be gone.
Here’s what it looks like, in case it’s removed by the time you read this post.
All this is probably TMI, but you know me – I like transparency.
“I Wish ToolGuyd Looked More Like…”
If there’s a website that you think looks better than ToolGuyd, please let me know what aspects you like about the site, and also please mention if it’s on a desktop or mobile device browser.
Personally I think we have the most usable and best-looking design among tool review sites, and it’ll get better with a little more refinement. But things could always look better.
Your support is always appreciated, and your input is valuable and also very much appreciated at times like this. It’s important for you to know that I care about all of you, and about what you think.
Have a great weekend!