Sunday, 31 August 2014

Moving from blogspot on to its own site

The new interface for blogger and Google's One account are causing problems, so we have regretfully decided to move the blog onto the same site as the rest of the tools. Please see for all future updates.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Animation prototype

Animation is probably the single thing we have been asked for most in this toolset. As it required making changes to the server it has taken time to accomplish.

Two basic prototypes are now available, which generate animated banner images for a single book or an author banner featuring several titles.

Animated banner generator

Any feedback would be welcome.

Monday, 7 May 2012

April Figures and an update

We are looking at migrating this blog to the SmashingReads website and allowing users to sign up for email updates when there is a new post.

Meanwhile here are the figures so far:

Jan 2012551803,146
Feb 20124607566,394
Mar 20125,3859,23162,702
Apr 20126,69610,59660,148

Uniques: Unique visitors not returning in 30 days.
Visits: All visitors.
Widgets: Widgets served.
These figures exclude bots.

The bandwidth cost has also gone up significantly. Back in January it was 12MBs, but not only are more widgets being served, but complex ones like the e-reader and store (which are becoming more popular) use more bandwidth. For the moment, we are covering the extra by adding Project Wonderful ads to the site.

In terms of widget progress, we now have animation support installed. It will take time to develop widgets that use it, but animated banners and buttons are in the works. If there is something you would like to see let us know.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Widget migration and (over)use

Most of the widgets are now migrated. We've still had over 1,000 hits on the old widgets, but most traffic went to smashingreads:

62,000 widgets served in March
12,000 in April
200 unique entries currently active (hit once or more within 24 hours) in the cache.

And not a small amount of bandwidth consumed.

This is going to be a problem. The widgets were built by a group of volunteers before christmas as a nice-to-have (and because with Amazon Select available, we thought Smashwords authors like us should get something). We're not honestly sure where to go from here.

The referral links are providing about $1 per month and the bandwidth cost is at least five times that at current levels. If we expanded the widget set to include the animation options which people ask for frequently, it would involve a server upgrade and push up costs further.

Suggestions or ideas would be welcome, since we seem to be in a bit of a corner.

We actually expected a couple of hundred a month, if that - not 62,000...

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Minisite update

The Minisite books page now has working lookup links to Diesel and Amazon.

There are also links for print and audiobook, which currently go back to the Smashwords page (as print and audio books can belinked from the book page there). These are still in early stages but it does expand visitors' purchase options slightly.

The author search for Diesel is harder to implement due to the way they format author names, so Diesel links on the author and all books pages will take longer to be added.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Javascript Widget and a general update

The first reminders to migrate widgets went out last week. This is a quick reminder that the old widgets will be turned off at the end of March, so please make sure you have switched by then.

In other news, we may have a way around the problem of the speed of the Java plugin, which is currently being worked on by the Java coder. The reader may be possible after all, but it's in early stages yet.

The Single Book Javascript Widget is also back. We were going to discontinue this, as confusion between Javascript and iframes by some users caused problems. However several more technical users were integrating it with their sites effectively and producing fully tailored versions. Hopefully with the labels "Advanced" and "HTML knowledge required", this will prevent the issues.

Finally, we are running out of ideas now. Animation is still not possible given the technical restrictions, but other than that if you have any ideas or widgets you'd like please let us know.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Maintenance work, and a deadline.

Most of the work this week has been under the hood.

After discovering that some search engines were linking directly to widgets, we have added a holding page that automatically embeds a widget when a widget is hit directly and not through the site it was embedded in.

Robots.txt has also been improved on the new site, to improve search results.

Finally there are now 301 redirects (effectively permanent redirects to the equivalent new page) on many of the old site's pages. We can't redirect the whole site yet since it would break all the old widgets.

And as a deadline, at the end of March the old widgets will be turned off, so please make sure you have switched to the new ones before then. Any widget with in it is an old version, the new ones all have