Tuesday, December 6, 2011

After Dynamic Views (Technical Tuesday)

Life after NaNoWriMo is finally getting back to some kind of normal. I'll be posting a few of my thoughts on NaNo later, but for this Technical Tuesday I'm going to report on my other grand experiment: Dynamic Views.

I switched my blog over a few months ago. During that time I tried most of the different views. In the end, I decided to go back to my previous template. Here's why.

Stats

From the moment I switched to Dynamic Views my page count skyrocketed. I expected this.

Take a look at a normal template. When you visit the main page it shows the latest 10 posts all at once. This counts as 1 page view. You see, Blogger doesn't know if you read one post or all 10. It just knows you loaded the page.

Dynmic Views are different. They only load what they need to. As the user scrolls down, it loads more and more posts. Each of these count as a page view. This means that if the person scrolled down through your first 7 posts, Blogger would count 7 page views.

I'm sorry to burst your bubble if you thought your blog became 10x more popular after switching to Dynamic Views. It probably didn't.

The real problem for me was the stats for individual posts didn't work the same. In other words, Blogger was counting how many total page views, but not which ones belonged to which post. This was annoying because I like to see which of my posts are most popular, but I couldn't figure out a way to do that.

For example, I had several thousand page views in October, but my most popular post was visited only 85 times. Really? Compound that with the fact that I had less than 40 posts published and you begin to see the problem. Where were all those "total page views" going?

Sidebar

I'm not a big fan of sidebars, but they do serve a purpose.

It may surprise you, but I don't blog just to see myself write. (Okay, maybe that wasn't a big surprise.) I want to build a platform I can use for other pursuits. I use the sidebar for that. My sidebar has an overview of the blog and information about me.

Also, my sidebar is used to spotlight posts and other places I think deserve a little extra attention. I have a place for my most popular posts, my friends and followers. In the future, I plan on featuring books and articles I've written.

The Dynamic Views didn't have any of this. They allowed my posts to be front-and-center, but they didn't allow for much else.

Confusion

The Dynamic Views didn't look enough like a blog. Sure they looked cool, but they were different enough that some people had a hard time figuring out what they could click on and what they couldn't. 

Sometimes readers had to click to read the entire post. A lot of people didn't do that. I know, that's mostly my fault. I could write posts better to have a hook "above the fold", but I didn't.

Conclusion

There you have my biggest concerns with the Dynamic Views.

From a technology perspective, I thought they were pretty cool. I like the dynamic loading, and if the stats issue could be resolved that would be a great thing. I think I could live without the sidebar if there were more ways to customize the layout and the look.

All in all, I enjoyed this little experiment and I hope to try more things like this in the future.

I can see why this castle is in ruins. Who knew it was built on such a slope? Babak Fakhamzadeh did a great job of "framing" it though. You can find this and other photos with frames on Flickr

2 comments:

Babak Fakhamzadeh said...

Can't say much about your previous template, but your banner pic certainly is pretty. And what a lovely photo your blog posts is accompanied with! ;)

John Waverly said...

Babak, thanks for stopping by. I liked many of your photos and had a hard time choosing one.

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