Changes Ahead for the Blog

Changes AheadThe blog has some changes ahead over the next few days, perhaps weeks. Some of my plans are still in a bit of flux and I'm learning some new software, so consider this your advance notice if you find something wonky here.

Why Make Changes?

There are a few reasons.

  1. Traffic is growing. There are always spikes and drop-offs on different days, but I've been watching my metrics and noticed a trend in growth. I'm happy to see that trend, so I want to accommodate it.
  2. I had an outage a few weeks ago. It's never any fun when you can't get to your own web site, because that means other visitors can't get to your web site. That sort of thing tends to put a dent in reason #1, so I want to try and mitigate reasons for future outages.
  3. My site performance is down. It's taking longer to load my page, and that's also bad for reason #1. People want a snappy web experience. Sites either deliver good performance or people go elsewhere. Also, Google seems to include performance factors in its ranking results. A bump in performance could equal a bump in rankings. At the very least, I can try to avoid slipping in search rankings.
  4. It's time for a fresh coat of paint. I use the ProPhoto Blogs theme on WordPress and I like it. However, I also believe that it's part of the reason my performance is slipping. This theme has a lot of overhead – useful overhead if you're not a programmer who likes digging into CSS code. Bulk is bulk, though. I'm toying with some alternatives for a lean site with a fresh look.

Tell Us About the Changes Ahead

Basically, the changes are to help me deal with the issues I mentioned. Here's how I plan to address those concerns.

  1. I'm moving to a Virtual Private Server (VPS). As a small blogger, I was happy to live on a shared hosting environment. That means that my blog resides along with several other blogs – none of which I know about – on the same server. It's sort of like “We all live in a Yellow Submarine”, but we're not allowed to leave our compartments.The problem with that arrangement is that we share resources blindly. If someone else uses a lot of hot water, there's none left for my shower. In a computing environment, that means my CPU utilization and RAM aren't guaranteed. If another site has a poor configuration and hogs the resources, my site suffers.A Virtual Private Server takes a slice of a computer's resource and dedicates them solely to me. I know I can count upon a specific amount of CPU, RAM, bandwidth, disk space and processes. It also gives me quite a bit more administrative flexibility. Why go virtual instead of just dedicating my own hardware? Because a Virtual server is scalable. A physical server is always too small or too large. As my site grows, I can pay a little more to increase my resources to meet my needs, rather than paying a much larger amount to exceed my needs with a physical server.
  2. Not only does a VPS provide dedicated resources, but it provides a dedicated operating system. Who knows what those other sites are uploading and downloading? If one of them screws up a system file or the OS, then it screws my site, too. A VPS is simply more secure than a shared hosting environment.
  3. I've been very happy using ProPhoto Blogs. In fact, I haven't totally decided to replace it here. I'm leaning that way, though. One of the things that I like about it is the ability to share a large photo on the initial display. Of course, that is a double-edged sword because it's not a good thing for mobile visitors. As my traffic increases, so does the percentage of users on mobile devices. My current theme isn't serving mobile users very well and there are other themes with Responsive designs that handle different displays better than my current theme.

One More Thing

My plan when I started this blog was just to have a place to share my photographic journey. Basically, it was a place to post a photo and share a silly story to go with it.  That's been fun, but I'm finding that I want to go in a bit of a different direction. I have more information to share, which doesn't always relate to the photo that I'm ready to post. I need to find a better way of sharing useful information as well as sharing photos that I hope folks will enjoy. As I said, I'm still working out the details as I go through the other system upgrades. The idea is to make this site a better place to visit, so let's hope I succeed instead of blowing up the whole thing.

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  • Charles Putnam, November 20, 2012   Reply →

    Ive been using the Photocratti themes for my WordPress site. They offer a lot of flexibility and I haven’t seen (or are aware of) any performance issues.

    • William Beem November 20, 2012   Reply →

      I have subscriptions to a lot of different WordPress themes, since I run a few different blogs. Elegant Themes, Standard Theme, StudioPress, Graph Paper Press. Probably a few that I forgot, too. I really need to stop buying so many theme subscriptions.

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