Tweaking the Site, Making Life Easier

I spent some time tweaking the site yesterday (again). I realized I didn’t have much of a description anywhere so I added one to the top. Maybe that will help explain what this place is to the newbies. And fill in a few of you old timers in case you forgot.

I also added an e-mail subscription box to the sidebar. I mentioned this before, but the sign-up box is new. Basically if you want to get my blog updates delivered to your e-mail inbox (in full text, no less!), you can sign up there. Entries are delivered once a day. That’s the only thing the list is used for (I couldn’t spam you if I wanted to–not that I want to) and you can unsubscribe at any time.

I’ve also been using a tracking service to see where people click on my homepage. It’s fascinating stuff, but the biggest thing I’m noticing is that a few people don’t use bookmarks. You come to my site to use the Flickr or Blogroll links at the top, instead of just bookmarking those sites (my Mom does it, but I’m sure she’s not the only one).

There’s an easier way.

I know we often just get stuck in a pattern of how we’ve always done it and it’s just easier to do what we know works than figure out a new, potentially time-saving method. That’s no indictment of people clicking on my Flickr link, it’s just a statement about human nature. I do the same thing.

But there are some more efficient ways to surf the web. And if you’re going to go through that process every day, at some point it makes sense to take a few minutes to figure out a faster method and save yourself some time (and if you have time to spare, well, I’ve got a to-do list for you).

  • Bookmarks – This is the old skool way to save yourself some time. Every browser has some sort of system to bookmark a site and then organize those bookmarks. I organize mine into neat categories like “news” or the names of clients. In some browsers you can even automatically open all the bookmarks in one group across different browser tabs. Then everything you read on a daily basis is open and pre-loaded, ready for you to browse. No waiting for load times or clicking around or typing in urls. I did this before I used Bloglines and it was quite the timesaver. At the very least using bookmarks saves you from typing in urls or getting to one site through a link on another site.
  • Subscription – If you’re like me and you track too many things for the bookmarking method to be effective, the next best idea is subscriptions. This can happen with either e-mail or that fancy sounding thing called RSS, whichever you prefer. Most anything on the web that’s updated, whether it’s a blog or pictures, has some way to subscribe to get the latest updates. It can go straight to your e-mail inbox or you can use RSS and use some sort of feed reader like Bloglines or Google Reader, or even just run the feed straight to a Yahoo homepage. These kind of subscriptions usually have a short delay, so you’re not getting your content as soon as it’s posted, but usually within 24 hours. So unless you need to see those photos of your grandchild the minute they go up (Mom), you can probably save yourself some time and let a subsciption system notify you. Only visit when there’s something new to see.

So if you want to visit my site every day and click on the Flickr link, go for it. But there are ways to do it a little faster. And if you’re anything like me, saving 10 minutes a day would be revolutionary.

3 thoughts on “Tweaking the Site, Making Life Easier”

  1. This is a bit of a tangent, but this post reminded me of something I heard last week on a tech podcast that talked about people’s web habits. One habit that surprised me but is supposedly becoming common is using a Google search to get to a website rather than actually typing in the address in the location bar. I guess it’s one thing if you aren’t sure of the specific address so you need some help from Google, but it seems a lot more cumbersome than just using the location bar.

  2. Yeah, it’s kind of sad when one of the top search phrases for your site is the url. I’ve seen that. More than once.

  3. To illustrate ways we all do this, I just realized in my e-mail program I had all these extra folders expanded–folders for junk and trash and sent mail and stuff that’s used automatically in the program but I never access.

    So why am I always looking at them, and more importantly, scrolling past them? I’ve probably done miles of extra scrolling just because I didn’t bother to collapse those folders and not look at them.

    Folders collapsed. Time saved. Score.

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