Without any supporting info (context) I think that website statistics are very often ‘close to’ meaningless. Here’s a little meaningless info for this site (13-June-2018) though sorry it’s in German as my host is in Switzerland!
The graphic (above) is static i.e. doesn’t update, though from time-to-time (as I remember) I’ll update it. The columns headed in yellow are the number of visitors to the site – the first column is the average number of visitors per day (in the month) and the second yellow column is the total number of visitors in the month. The busiest pages of the site can be seen on the ‘Discover Burgundy‘ page.
Tasting-Notes – NoteFinder
If there was one thing at the top of the request ‘hit-parade’ from the site ‘readership’, it was a search-able database of all the tasting notes from the site.
I have to say that such a thing was never really top of my ‘to-do’ list as my interests were more aligned to the profiles of the domaines, yet this page is now the most visited on ‘Burgundy Report’ – the Big Red Diary is giving it a run for it’s money though. Perhaps I should get it sponsored 😉
Version 1 of the design could have been slightly more ‘searcher friendly’, but I chose to keep the same design as all the other ‘top level’ pages of the ‘report’ – I still think it quite an elegant solution. The implementation seems less elegant (to me) and needed external input to ‘code’. The basis is a Microsoft Access database which is queried using ASP.NET. Don’t ask me anymore about it (technically) – I haven’t got a clue – I just uploaded a ‘heavier’ database file from time to time. It had plenty of running problems – too many users (concurrent) and it crashed when it ran out of RAM – apparently peak requirements were over 260mb, and more than my host was prepared to allow with additional cash from my side…
So apart from my inability to materially change the design, and the fact that it broke if too many people used it, it was fine! Oops, there was one other thing; Windows Hosting (to enable ASP.NET) is quite cheap, but when you additionally need a MySQL database for your WordPress installation – then it definitely costs more than average to host! Room for improvement I suppose.
Given that WordPress runs on a single (different) database, it would be an elegant solution to incorporate my notes into that. Queue the developer…
Version 2 went live at the beginning of February 2010. The delivery of notes was, versus recent history, rather robust. Additional time is/was required to fix the functionality i.e. the associated links. Everything now seems to work, but to be honest it’s hard to keep up with – The contents of the database (writing in November 2011) were close to a year behind the site, and as of 2014 there have been no more updates!
Copyright – The Words and Pictures of Burgundy Report
This site contains significant amounts of information in the form of text: examples include but are not limited to, opinion, tasting notes for individual wines, regional profiles of wine-producing areas and wineries, wine producers and marketers. This site also contains what amounts to a significant photographic resource of many thousands of images of the region and individual producers.
All text in this site is copyright of the author (Bill Nanson) or the clearly stated ‘other’ author of that text. All the photographic images (except where otherwise noted) are also the copyright of Bill Nanson.
Copyright is a thorny issue – and that is because wine is a business with a significant global turnover. Where money is involved there is often the pressure to deliver fast results. Fast results to some people mean cutting corners and copyright is often one of those corners.
The following are the ‘ground-rules’:
- All original writings and all original images, whether photographic or otherwise are copyrighted 2000-2010 by The Burgundy Report. ISSN 1744-1307 (Bill Nanson)
- Tasting notes of currently available wines may be reproduced for commercial reasons, as ‘fair use’, provided suitable credit to The Burgundy Report website URL is given.
- Otherwise all rights are reserved, and no other part of this web site may be reproduced, stored or transmitted by any means, electronic or otherwise, without the prior permission of The Burgundy Report (Bill Nanson).
It sounds very simple – so let’s keep it that way – but be very aware that a commercial enterprise that cuts corners can expect to experience significant un-budgeted costs.
Site-Basics – WordPress
After 3 years of publishing the ‘report’ – all hand-written (probably dodgy) HTML – I decided I needed to streamline the process – just imagine you want to make a small design change to the page; if you have 100 pages, you have to make that change 100 times! My time is limited, but you may notice recent Burgundy Reports containing more ‘content’ than heretofore, that’s more about speed of transfer from notes to screen than anything else. Just as important, I wanted a level of interaction with ‘readers’ that wasn’t possible the ‘old’ way – commenting was a must. That is largely enabled by WordPress, but how did I make that choice?
For the 2003 Harvest Reports I made a diary of the progress – just a few ‘posts’, but I made them away from this site as there was no place for them on a ‘static’ site. For the 2004 Harvest I went one step further, by integrating a blogger.com diary into the site. That was the catalyst; I saw more and more sites ‘built’ this way – content management systems (CMS) were surely the way to go – though none seemed to fulfil my needs – they were all for blogging, not delivering a ‘report’!
I could have chosen any one of half a dozen options, but plumped for WordPress; it was ‘open source’ (free!) but seemed to have lots of followers (they call it a ‘community’!) and just gave the impression that it was the fastest improving and most dynamic option. It still didn’t fit my vision of how to successfully categorise articles on this site, but I took the leap of faith that by the time I knew what to do with it, it would be no issue! Early experience was gained by importing the Big Red Diary, then hosted on Blogger (newly acquired by Google), into the shiny, new software.
My experience is that if you use WordPress for ‘blogging’ (I suppose my diary is ‘really’ a blog – but I just hate that word) with one of the WordPress supplied ‘themes’ (see below), life is pretty easy – apart from the blandness of looking like every other site – there are of-course hundreds of designs that are free to download, but try to customise it to match the rest of your site and it’s a steep learning cure – very steep – and you keep breaking it, well I did anyway!
Note, my inner Luddite has never quite got over the move from a world of HTML to that of a CMS chucking everything into a database; what I’ve written is no longer accessible in a 100 different ways and available in discrete little chunks (files) – it’s all hidden in a big database, that gets bigger and bigger by the month. If it broke irretrievably, I’m sure I’d give up…
Customisation – ‘The Theme’
If WordPress is the underlying (unseen) structure of your site, the ‘theme’ is a collection files that customise how your site looks and what it displays. I mentioned that customisation was tough; it took me more than 6 months come up with a personalised theme that ‘reflected’ (I still couldn’t duplicate) both the report’s pages and for the diary the same design approach as this page. That went live with the Autumn 2006 Report. This largely accommodated my needs for over 2 years, but I still needed to move on – not in a large way visually, despite the diary being a little cluttered, rather because all the base files from my theme were relatively stone-age in construction, let’s call them ‘aspiration limiters!’. Already last year I flirted with Sandbox – it was a ‘classes‘ thing – it was just so flexible, but I couldn’t make it work. Also, Sandbox was no longer supported so was potentially another ‘cul de sac’. This year I decided summer-time would be change time.
I looked at the state of the art of themes e.g. Carrington; I flirted with it, much as I had with Sandbox, but with my level of ingenuity the file system was so complex that I found it largely ‘un-customise-able’ – “WordPress CMS Theming Made Easy” they say – I gave up. But at the same time a door of possibilities opened up, that of ‘child-themes‘. I looked at possible contenders to base my next theme on and eventually took the ‘Hybrid‘ option. Hybrid is free and so-far (at least) is using a WordPress model of releasing constant updates – which makes great sense if you decide to use it as the basis for a child theme. There is an annual charge for support – just $25. If you know what you’re doing you won’t need the support – but I found it useful! I chose to use the ‘Skeleton‘ child and was 90% done only by filling the perfectly structured css file – very impressive – and I would recommend it.
Actually the content pages have remained rather constant in their main design, only ‘sculpted’ for each version. Version 1, HTML using mainly tables and some css, Version 2 for WordPress without tables, and Version 3 the latest update. All centre-aligned pages with grey background, but version 3 using a subtle shading at the edge of the page, inspiration (theft may be a better word – including most of the search bar!) from http://ministryoftype.co.uk/ but also adding the ‘breadcrumb’ navigation on the same level and aiming for a strict XHTML implementation.
Customisation – e.g. ‘The Header’
I mentioned ‘classes’ elsewhere – semantic classes even – basically depending on the type of info, time of day, page you are viewing – all are covered by different classes that are generated by your theme – that means you can have some fun with your css: It’s Friday – let’s have a picture of a fish, it’s winter – let’s have some snow – all is possible.
For the Big Red Diary, as it is a diary(!) I chose to have a different picture display at the head of the page for each week of the year – that’s 53 pictures to the uninitiated! If I could get a slide-show ‘thing’ working (which I can’t), you could get a sneak preview here, otherwise you have to wait another 52 weeks to see them all…
Functionality – ‘Plugins’
Plugins are little add-on pieces of code that provide additional functionality to your publishing system, things which can’t already be found in basic (for instance) WordPress or your chosen theme. Here I’ll gradually add a few notes about ‘plugins’ that I find to be useful.
- I’m not sure if it’s really classed as ‘functional’ – it is more of a barrier really – if you wish any level of interaction with people who read/look-at what you publish on the internet, protection against spam comments is a must. I really don’t know the landscape of potential solutions as I’ve only used one plugin – Akismet. It’s effective and saves tons of work – my akismet ‘stats’ show that the plugin has already stopped nearly 50,000 spams – if I hadn’t pressed something that reset the counter back in 2007, there would be another 12,000+ to add to the total. It’s the closest thing the site has to ‘indispensable’ – commenting would not be tenable without it – ther are the best parrt of 1,000 spams held by the plugin at any one time.
- Limit-Login-Attempts is (like Akismet) something to put a little distance between you, and the dark side of the internet. This is why it is useful.
- If, like me, you see so many things you want to change (spelling perhaps!) only after you’ve published your ‘piece’, Scribu’s Front End Editor is for you. The name seems a bit abstract, but essentially whilst you are logged into your site (as admin or author etc.) you can simply double-click on some text and edit it, without having to go go back through the WordPress admin screens/dashboard/edit pages etc. – cool, useful stuff!