This is a consolidated thread that describes site updates. It’ll be updated with previous and subsequent update notes as they occur.
[ December 2014 ]
I have reduced my site’s posts from around 5,900 to around 1,800 by painstakingly touching every post and doing the following:
- If it was a dumb point-in-time thing like a picture or a video of something slightly amusing, it got deleted
- If it came from Posterous it got deleted (like 1900 posts)
- If it was dated and no longer relevant (election conversation, for example) it got deleted
- If it was just a link to someone else’s content and wasn’t expanded upon by me, it (mostly) got deleted
- For posts that I did keep, I added an image to them, properly categorized it, and did any cleanup that was required
- I went from like 500 categories to 7
I also took the site to SSL in December.
Overall, the biggest set of changes since putting the site online in ’99.
Here are more comments from my cleanup effort: https://danielmiessler.com/blog/ive-learned-15-years-blogging/.
[ November 2014 ]
I’ve made a number of significant changes to the site over the last couple of months. Most notably, I’ve realized that my primary metrics for the website were way off for many years.
I used to obsess over how fast the site loaded, when this is completely useless after a certain point. What I’m now focusing on, as I should have been all along, is making my content easy to get to.
To that end I’ve removed most content from the sidebar and left only the Related Posts listing, and I’ve added a randomized list of other posts to the bottom in case someone sees something there they like.
My stated goal is to have people see and enjoy more of my site content, not to click reload on any given page while holding a stopwatch.
That being said, the site continues to load pretty much instantaneously as far as human perception is concerned, which is all I need from a speed standpoint.
[ July 2014 ]
Re-enabled comments after a poll showed 20% really disliked having comments not there, and 20% slightly disliked not having them. The other half didn’t care.
[ July 2014 ]
I’ve just finished doing some fundamental site upgrades.
- I moved all my content to a new CMS (Genesis), which allows me a ton of power while still letting me create and edit using Vim
- I’ve implemented Google PageSpeed on my server (I used to use the CDN service), which does a ton of really advanced optimizations to content delivery
- I’ve implemented a fully responsive version of my theme. Now you can view the site on a phone or a tablet (or in a resized browser), and the site will scale perfectly to whatever size
- I’ve implemented CacheFly as my CDN, which replaces Google PageSpeed. A pure CDN simplifies delivery of the site, while still providing massive speed updates. And CacheFly is the top-end in the space.
- I’ve removed comments again. Or, more specifically, I’ve taken DISQUS comments off the main site. I’m instead having conversations on Reddit, through a submit option at the bottom of posts. Again, most people comment on Twitter, Facebook, or via email anyway. And with the recent DISQUS security problem it couldn’t have come at a better time.
- I’ve also moved the site back to danielmiessler.com (bare) from the www option. It’s just more elegant, and now that I’m not using Google PageSpeed as a CDN I don’t need it anymore.
- I’ve implemented breadcrumbs on all content. So whether you’re on the blog or in /study or /projects, you can see where you are and move around appropriately
These changes mean that my static content (under /study and /writing, etc.) are all inside the CMS now, which means it’s all linked together finally. This makes it far easier for users (and search engines) to move around the site and find related material.
All these changes are causing mass drama for the search engines, which is hurting traffic, but I expect that to stabilize over the next couple of weeks.
Anyway, I’d love to hear any thoughts on the changes. You should notice things are much faster and just generally better, but I’d love to hear any downsides.
[ May 2014 ]
I’ve made a number of tweaks to the site over the last few weeks.
- I installed New Relic so that I can see what’s happening with the site at an extremely granular level. I can see how long PHP is taking to execute, how long database queries take, etc. This level of instrumentation and data is both powerful and addictive.
- I moved my site from Ramnode back to Linode. I was basically just waiting for Linode to update their technology with SSD drives, and that happened. You can read more about it on my /stack page.
- My new box is CentOS instead of Ubuntu
- I moved from APC to Opcache as my system opcode caching platform. APC is being discontinued as the caching choice for PHP
- I also optimized some settings in Google Page Speed (my CDN)
- I removed the Twitter icon in the sidebar, which had an API call involved. Now the entire sidebar is just text.
- I removed the social icons from the top of posts (they’re still at the bottom)
- I cleaned up some junk API calls that were related to old social buttons
- I cleaned up some calls in my meta.php file, which loads at the top of pages
What all this means is that I have significantly reduced the content that needs to load on a given page. I have the updated, asynchronous social icons (addthis was way too slow), and I have DISQUS (removing comments was met with hostility). But other than those, pages are quite trim.
And with Dyn’s Anycast DNS and Google’s Pagespeed service, things are super crisp. I’ve seen about a 40% reduction in load times in my pingdom data, and the subjective experience of just loading the page seems even more dramatic than that. The site just pops.
If anyone has any comments on how the site feels, or any questions on my overall stack, let me know.
- As always, I have no WordPress plugins for speed. I consider that a concession to a lack of understanding, i.e. if you want to optimize your site speed, learn how to do it using your web server and application server. For this reason I eschew performance plugins and do everything right in the conf files themselves.
[ January 2014]
It’s annoying to come to sites like mine on a small device because the sidebar detracts from the main content and the fonts tend to be too small.
I’ve now implemented a mobile theme for the site that has the following characteristics:
- Small logo on top
- Search bar on top
- One single menu button (titled “menu”), which takes you anywhere else on the site
- It’s site-wide, i.e. works for blog posts, study content, etc. In other words, it’s not WordPress-only.
- It works based off of your device’s screen size. So larger tablets get the full site, while iPhone’s and iPad minis get the mobile site.
- A much larger font for easy mobile reading
Anyway, hopefully it will make it easier to consume the site on a mobile device. I’m eager to hear any comments.
[ October 2013 ]
- I’ve implemented Google’s PageSpeed service, which is basically a reverse proxy / CDN. This required that I go back to using a “www” hostname in my URLs, but I was thinking of doing that anyway.
- I’ve moved off of Varnish (for now), and have instead implemented memory-based caching in Nginx. If I can get the same speeds from Nginx—which it looks like I can‐then I definitely prefer to have fewer components, i.e. one. Oh, but don’t worry—I implemented my custom headers in Nginx. :)
- I am trying out Dyn’s advanced DNS service, which is basically like a CDN for DNS.
- I’ve also removed comments. Ping me if you want to chat about it, but the tldr is that they 1) don’t provide much interaction compared with Twitter/Facebook anymore, 2) place a burden on the blogger with managing spam/nastiness/etc, and 3) slow the site down. All combined, they just don’t seem worth it. We’ll see how it goes.
Anyway, speed-wise, the results have been significant. My European load times (in milliseconds) have fallen from the 700s to the 300s, and my US times improved slightly as well.
Let me know how the site feels to you. Hopefully snappy.
I am finally getting around to tackling the problem of my site’s front page. My basic approach, as I’ve discussed before, is to basically have three areas:
- My main content that I actually produced or commented on
- Things I found that I think are worth seeing
- Supplemental content you might also like on my site (in the sidebar)
The distinction between 1 and 2 is key, as is the ability to have that content update regularly. I want to make the front page a place to go to get good content–whether that’s from me or from the various things I’ve consumed recently. And I want it to be extremely clear which is which.
Anyway, I’ve not yet built the automation for the “my content” and “discovered content” sections, so I only have a few placeholders there. But I’m curious to see what you guys think of the approach. If you could leave a comment or email me that’d be phenomenal.
[ February 2013 ]
So I think the previous landing page (“/”) was a failure.
I believe the problem is that people expect to see new content when they arrive somewhere, and don’t want to have to click again to find it. That’s solved by just going to the /blog in the first place, but that defeats the purpose of even having the landing page.
So I’ve made a couple of adjustments while I work on a longer-term functionality/design fix for the homepage (see dynamically updated content):
- Navigating to “/” currently takes you directly to the blog.
- I’ve added top level navigation to the header to facilitate access to the other content on the site.
Let me know in the comments what you think about this. Did you hate the previous front page? Do you prefer to land on the blog itself? Comments much appreciated.
[ July 2012 ]
I’m looking to do a pretty major redesign of the site in the next few months, and I’ve started already.
The general concepts are:
- Simplicity and legibility
- A minimalist feel
- Even better performance
- Focus on current content
This has materialized as:
- I’ve removed the sidebars from the site. They basically added a lot of clutter and I’m not sure how much people were clicking on random things there. I am going to need to recreate a way of looking at all my content, but it will need to be done in a clean, simple way that’s consistent with the new look.
- Larger fonts across the site.
- A thinner display. I’ve taken the entire site to around 600px.
I’m also going to be doing the following:
- A mobile theme: the site still looks lame on a mobile device
- A modified front page: perhaps showing all of my content, with only one of the areas being the blog. Not sure yet.
- A re-organized top menu: since this is going to be the main way for people to find my content I need to be careful what I do with it
- Serious thought around typography and optimized layout
Anyway, I’m curious about thoughts on what I’ve done so far. Good? Bad? Please vote in the poll above and, as always, comments welcome.
[ A number of people have commented already in the comments and via email, and the comments have been extremely polarized. Nobody is indifferent–most people either love it or hate it, with one person responding quite negatively in email. One thing is clear: I need to get my links up for my top/popular content so people don’t have to go hunting for it.
[ February 2010 ]
So I made a couple of minor changes to the site layout today.
- I removed my twitter feed from the first sidebar and dedicated it to my discovered content.
- I put my twitter feed in the right sidebar and added a new tweetmeme follow button.
I felt like my discovered content concept needed more space.
[ September 2006 ]
I’m moving from my current host soon and going to a new setup. Rather than hosting with one of the standard companies and leasing one of their dedicated systems, I’m getting my own server and colo’ing it at a company administered by a friend of mine.
This is the final stage in my website’s evolution, and while it’s going to be somewhat expensive I’m going to try and offset some of the cost by putting ads back on the site. I’m hoping I can, without any effort, reach the $100 cuttoff for Google Ads and get that money to put toward the cost of the solution.
Plus, having ads on the site actually lends to credibility I’ve found. People subconsciously associate a strip of ads with the site being “professional”. Strange but true.
- CPU(s): Two Dual-Core Zeons at 1.6Ghz, 4MB Cache
- Memory: 4GB
- Drives: Two 36GB, 15,000rpm SAS Drives in RAID1 (PERC Controller)
That’s four (4) processor cores — each with a gig of RAM. I’m giddy about it, and I can’t wait to get it online with all my content swapped over. It was cheap as hell, too. I priced the same thing through IBM and it was out of control. Plus, the monthly payment model is good considering that’s how you take in ad revenue.
The main goal of the move is to be able to survive the Digg Effect so that every month or so I can get slammed with traffic and avoid seeing comments like, “The site’s already down.” That’s just embarrassing.
I am also going to step up my efforts at content creation and organization. I have dozens of ideas for good study articles just waiting to be written and published. My Unix/Linux commands section is especially bare and I have a few commands that I can’t wait to write about.
Overall I just want to refocus my efforts on my /study page. I’m not so much interested in the /writing area right now. I want to stay centered around creating high quality content that summarizes complex material. It’s the approach that benefits me the most because I end up farily versed in the stuff that interests me.
It’s also the most rewarding because people seem to enjoy that content the most, and they voice this approval either through private emails or through the social bookmarking sites.
Anyway, change is on the way. I’m hoping to see all aspects of the site’s quality head skyward.
[ August 2005 ]
So yeah, I’m dumping advancednetworkhosts.com as my web hosting company. The last month or so has shown them to be quite unstable. I’ve had mysql stop working a few times, had the site just not respond at all at least once, and a few other glitches. Overall, it’s just been a steadily deteriorating experience.
I’m going back to 1and1 — one of the first companies that I hosted with. I’ve heard really good things about them recently, so perhaps the problems that I had last time I was with them are gone. Plus, their German (like me). This means they’re godlike robots of doom, meaning anyone causing downtime will be terminated immediately. That’s comforting.