The People History Webmasters Ramblings I

Life Of A Webmaster
I am lucky and privileged to work for myself as a webmaster on The People History and other projects , and one of the many benefits is my office is in my home .

This morning when I started work at 6 ish I was rewarded with the sight of an Oriel sitting on the feeder they are truly a wonderful color and then I saw my other favourite bird who shares our hobby farm with us a Cardinal because of the way he struts round and his red crest I call him "Mr Special" together with our barn swallows and the gold finches and the many other birds who share their lives with us life seems good to be a webmaster today.

Our Test Video

A small video with something about what and why we created The People History


Comments / Feedback / Memories and Spam Comments
Spam is a problem for all webmasters and especially with a site like The People History, as a general rule I have spent more time deleting spam postings than inputting real memories .

Hopefully today I have started using a service which will cut this down

There are quite a few ways to stop rubbish posts many involve the use of Captcha but up till now none of the services that offer remote form handling that I had found and were in my budget had offered the service . But today I started using a service that does offer it

The site is called Jotform and I can highly recommend the service

Give it a try Jotform Form Handling

It seems to offer all I could want and much that other sites might find usefull including integrated payment tools

Site Design
Today we had some more feedback re: the design of the site and how it needs to be bought up to date .

I thank people for feedback but honestly my biggest problem is finding a designer who I could explain some of my needs to

for example

1 needs to be easy for children from 6 upwards easy to use
2 needs to be easy for older people to read and not to flashy
3 needs to be easy to navigate
4 must work with existing page names
5 design must be similar for the Memories and History sections
even though one is run from blogger and the other is hand coded HTML


Any Designer looking for work and thinks they can help within the budget of The People History please contact me

steve


Problems With Navigation
One of the problems of trying to put together an online social history created from real peoples memories is how to help visitors find memories that are of interest to them .

I have spent quite a bit of time thinking about it and each time an extra peace falls into place , some were fairly easy like creating labels for each decade and creating other labels to a specific type of memory

I then wanted to help people find the memories that I found interesting so I created a monthly choice of the best 6 but as other memories were posted I discovered it would still be difficult to identify those gems , so today I put a link on each page to monthly choices so hopefully people would get a chance to read some of those I think are the gems sent in so far to The People History

we will have to see how many people click to look at that link



Trying Other Forms Of Advertising
Well Today I decided to try something different to help spread the word about The People History as an alternative to Adwords and Stumbleupon and I am impressed


I used a site called
Review Me Review Me

It is not cheap but does mean another blog reviews your site , not really sure what I expected but here goes

Stages
Stage 1
First you search for blogs that have readers that would find your site interesting they rate sites with stars from various criteria and depending on the number of stars is the cost of a review.

Stage 2
Next decide which are the best for you including their coverage and cost and order a review

Stage 3
They then will accept taking on the review or reject

Stage 4
Within a few days you will be informed the review is complete and will be charged for the review

Even though you are paying for the review you are not guaranteed a 100% positive review so if your site is just another scam or affiliate site this is not for you , but if you have spent time and effort creating something different it will help you get the word out

Below are two of the sites and the review they gave for The People History The People History




These are the first 2 sites that did a review and they were kind and spent time looking over the site finding information that they found interesting and write a review of the website , I do like the fact that they do tell their readers that it is a paid review


how can you tell your visitors like your site or A/B Testing

Well for the first time on a new site I tried something different for A/B testing

As many webmasters know testing for usability can be a hard task as often beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so how can you check that your visitors were happy with the experience of visiting your website

1 Return Visitors
2 Referrals from emails ( pure natural not through newsletters etc. )
3 Number of visitors who bookmark your site in Favourites
4 Number of links from some of the many social bookmarking sites
5 Links from other sites
6 How long the visitor stays on your site
7 Family and Friends Feedback

Now all of these things are important but what happens if you change the design or how the content is layed out

Amongst the webmaster community this is called A/B testing and can be used for all of the above and on an ecommerce site finding if changes can cause an increase in the percentage of orders placed

A/B testing can be done through the use of PPC advertising like Adwords where you would may run 2 PPC click campaigns with differing landing pages and look at the results at the end of xx clicks

A/B testing can also be done on behalf of you by specialist companies who use ordinary people to provide feedback through filling in very detailed forms


Now the problem is with both of the above is they can prove very expensive and can take quite a long time to provide the feedback you need

But we tried a different approach on The People History for the first time this week


Over the last 6 months since The People History has been on line we have noticed quite a few referrals from Stumbleupon and decided to investigate why.

Stumble Upon is one of the new generation of Online Commuinties that allows users to Channel surf the internet according to their interests

So in the case of The People History if a stumbler liked the site he may well create a review and a thumbs up for a page or the site and include a tag to say the site was related to history , any other stumblers ( the name of those who use Stumbleupon ) if they were looking for new sites related to history would be shown the site.

In the case of The People History a number of stumblers added odd pages from site including
1960's
1970's
The People History
and a few other pages from the site


While we were investigating Stumbleupon
we found we could pay for our site to be shown more often to stumbers interested in history quite cheaply

So after looking at the costs we decided to use this as way for A/B testing below is what we did and some of the results

Paid for 250 impressions on a page with design A
Paid for 250 impressions on a page with design B

then looked at the percentage of thumbs up to thumbs down with the same content for different design

I did then take it back to Design A as part of the experiment
and the % of Stumblers who gave the page the thumbs up when content was the same but design was different provided from valuable feedback for changing website design

We will definatley use these results during the site redesign of The People History


Shot The Documentary
Last week my family and I went off to shoot a promo documentary for the people history in Florida.

It was very interesting and opened my eyes somewhat to how TV works , as I realised how easy it would be for an interviewer could twist your words through the power of editing .

If nothing else it provided us with a spell in warm weather in Florida where in just a few days we made some new friends ( Cindy and ED ) and woke each morning to watch the sunise over the ocean , as we live in the midwest we do not see the ocean very often.

We are now waiting for the companies edited version to be sent to us and quite exited I suppose to see how it turns out

When it goes online we will post a link so others can see what an idiot I am sure I made of myself

signing off
steve

So the big day for TV is coming
Well I thought I would post this today with 1 week till we film a small piece on The People History

I have the script and like how it looks so will see if it lives up to my expectations

I can't think why I agreed to this and am still unsure if sensible thing to do but I am committed now

The piece will highlight some of the work that has gone into The People History over the last 8 months and an idea of what the site is about and where it is going

The first ethical question faced on ThePeopleHistory
Today is the first time an ethical question has happened since starting The People History that is not covered by our TOS and Posting Guidelines , and I thought I would share some of the reasoning behind the decision I made.
The memory concerns a young man's unhappiness with his life and was posted with the following Topic Description
My Walk to Suicide

The People History made some decisions in the beginning that although we would allow people to post memories and stories from their lives we wanted to stop the site from becoming a political springboard for only rants against politics ( whatever they were left , right, radical, center etc. ) This was decided so that the site could be seen as a family friendly website which could be used by any age, from anywhere throughout the world to read memories from other parts of the world which would not cause offence to the reader.

I read this posting prior to inclusion on the website many times before allowing it to be posted in its entirety including some of the political and cultural statements that pertained why this young man was so unhappy .

The posting is about a young man of 20yrs old from Iran who is going through a personal crisis and feeling that his only recourse is suicide, as with any body who is this unhappy he has concentrated on the negatives in his life and not on the positives.

His command of the English language is a tribute to his intellect as is the fact he is close to completing his degree, I hope that if any one from Iran reads his story they can provide support through these hard times




So What is the People History Website About
The People History is a site dedicated to collecting the memories from the last 50 years from the ordinary man and woman .

It is a website to bring People History and Memories together , for each page we have created small snippets of information to help jog the visitors memory, so that they may remember those events or special time in their lives.

We have spent 6 months on research and hope that some of the memories from our older visitors can be preserved for future generations to read.

Historians do a wonderful job of documenting History with the facts and information but the personal experiences from the people who lived through those events in history before the advent of the Internet had no way to be preserved, we are hoping we can address this with the http://www.thepeoplehistory.com/index.html website.


How Did The People History Begin
We do hope you will visit our site and share your memories for others to read.

When we were thinking about the design of the site we wanted to allow people to leave memories without feeling they were compromising their privacy, so no e-mail address is requested during Memory submission.

Due to our goals of making this a resource for children studying times and events in History we also made the decision that all submissions would be checked prior to inclusion on the website for complying with our guidelines which include any memory we publish should not offend other visitors.

This decision will mean some delay between posting a memory and inclusion of the memory on the website but we believe this is worth our effort and the delay incurred.

We have also implemented the ability for comments on each memory to be left by those who have read the memory.

The site will go online within the next 10 days so please visit and let us know what you think
Steve


The People History was started after a trip to the local bookshop and realising that the internet had an area of our lives not covered very well, this was in February of 2006 and for the next month I tried to work out what I could do to cover that area, In March 2006 I bought the domain thepeoplehistory.com and some hosting for http://www.thepeoplehistory.com/index.html . I have spent from March till now researching and designing the website ready for launch at the end of this month.
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