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Progress diary, a retrospective on week 36 of 2022

I did heavy re-structuring of the Aktiivi.com site, both for content and for the technical implementation. Here’s a description of the steps taken and content produced.
Reflections of buildings, clouds, on mirror-like lake surface, with mist rolling slowly.
Reflections and mist on the calm lake surface. Vanajavesi, Hämeenlinna, 12.9.2022, 06:55 in the morning. Copyright Niko Kotiniemi 12.09.2022.

The changes to the site this week were quite heavy. While there were only a couple of occasional visitors, it was still an excellent time to make the necessary breaking changes. Later the changes would hinder visitors and Search Engine crawlers alike.

Main technical implementation changes this week:

  • Article tagging was removed and re-created, causing breaking changes to the aggregate linking by tags. Groupings were re-named, with more generic labels allowing content segmentation into four main themes or topics.
  • The main menu was re-structured to hold only Home and the four article groupings. The site loses some of the intra-site search engine optimizations in the change in navigation from "Travel journal" to "On balance." Nevertheless, I didn't want to exclude activities in cities or small delights.
  • I cut the front page background image height in half to make the featured posts' edges visible. The intent is to ensure that the actual visitor sees content instead of just navigation and a pretty photo.
  • I added secondary navigation at the bottom of the pages, with the Privacy Statement and About -pages. With the subscribe to comment and receive updates of new articles -options, the site becomes a register of readers, and I want to account for GDPR early on when it's still manageable.
  • Google Analytics, for visitor analytics, was moved from the default page by page code to Google Tag Manager. The benefit sought was the ability to change the properties without re-deploy the header tagging script.
  • I deployed Hotjar visitor analytics to understand how many of the visitors would visit below the first screen fold (scroll down)
  • The site slogan at the top left of each page was reduced in size to match the top navigation items to conserve room for navigation items.

On creating content

This week I have published two blog posts and drafted half a dozen partial posts not yet published. I now routinely edit photos to the blog format of 1366*768px in a couple of minutes. I'm still learning to make similar but different-dimension versions to Twitter and Pinterest. I now know, in theory, to account for cropping of the photos originally in 4:3 format, but I also have forgotten about it each time I take a picture. Links to the articles this week are:

Overall On blogging skills learned and put to use, I would give myself a 1, inching towards two on a scale of one to six (with six as a professional). It's an acceptable state, given that I started about three weeks ago.

I have uploaded a few 10s mood videos to the posts but feel very clumsy with them. I have to learn my way around the tooling for videos as well.

I have learned to look at photos from the outcome perspective, but I still need to consciously decide which images should be upright and which horizontally when shooting them. I now know the rule of the golden thirds but find myself not using it properly yet - it requires practice. I'm still new to topics like the golden ratio and photo editing.

The most significant deficiency for blogging is likely the lack of story arc. When writing a travel journal, how to fit each day of photos into one or more storylines? I need to study how others are doing it and potentially get a course or a book.

I'm pretty comfortable with keyword optimization, photo naming, captions, and alt. I am still not marketing the posts, as I feel it wouldn't be interesting enough to read only a tiny fraction of a journey.

Content re-structuring

I did a re-structuring of the sections on the site. Realizing this will hurt the Search engine rankings and bookmarks, it's better to do it now since the website doesn't have any traffic.

Previously the topics, tags, and static pages were as follows;

  • Travel Journal
  • Leadership
  • Prod
  • Build
  • About
  • (Contact, which was intended but not added)

Designing the new structure of pages and pages for navigation was a difficult question as there is a limit of space, but at the same time, I'd love them to be meaningful.

The new navigation is as follows

Tags (blog topics)

  • Home
  • For balance
  • On products
  • Builder's journal
  • About leadership

Pages, on the bottom navigation

  • About this site
  • Privacy Statement
  • Contact

One topic added is the builder's / creator's / author's / journal. I wanted it to allow for more flexibility than being limited to just composing blog posts. At the same time, I couldn't post daily, or it would overwhelm the feed with more or less ad-hoc content.

I considered labels like a weekly diary, a week in retrospect, and a weekly summary. The label Weekly summary was close to what I was looking for, but it still felt that it would confine the topic to aggregate reports instead of the flow of thought musings like this post.

In the end, I created a weekly post like the one you are viewing to summarize the week's notable activities.

External, social media content

I pondered if and how I should tie together the content posted on social media and the content on the site. The experiment starts with;

  • Posting scenic images occasionally to Twitter and linking back to a weekly compilation post. With Twitter, the emphasis is on the temporal nature and immediacy. For possibly adding analytics or other commercial features in the future, I converted my account to a Professional Twitter account.
  • Occasionally post scenic images to Pinterest and link to a weekly compilation post. With Pinterest, the emphasis is on a collection of similarly themed ideas.