Setting up this site has been really interesting. Before now I’d always built my own sites with CSS in notepad.  Nothing sophisticated but they worked and it was handy that I knew the code inside out. What I never had was any kind of stats about where visiters were from and what they looked at. I always thought that was a bit odd and even a bit big brotherish. But now I’ve gone the WordPress route and got myself a nifty little stats logger I’ve realised just how useful and strangely addictive it can be.

There’s the obvious mild thrill to discover that people in Ontario or Moscow or Riga or New South Wales or where ever have seen your site. Who ever you are, cheers me dears. But more importantly you get to find how they use the site and I started to notice a couple of trends.

Firstly, there are many more visitors using an iPod than Internet Explorer. Many more in fact although the overwhelming majority are using Firefox. I knew IE usage would be low but even Chrome has 10x the number of users here.

Secondly, and this was worrying, was that I noticed many users where only getting so far through the menus and then leaving. Now I know I’m still on route to getting the content sorted, especially the skills section but I didn’t think it was really that bad.

Then today I accessed on an iPod and then watched horrified as it was accessed on a  laptop and I noticed a couple of things. The comparatively low processing power was making the drop down menus take an age to drop down. People naturally being impatient just clicked on the header, weren’t immediately entertained and left, confused, dazed and bored. Also, when used on a laptop (assuming a 1024 res screen), clicking on the side bar to scroll down would scroll the READ MORE button off the screen so all users saw was the picture and some text. All that entertaining and beautifully written prose was never getting read. Not good.

So I’ve made the READ MORE button more prominent (I changed some code in the php! I’m an interweb coder!) and I’ve contacted the original designer to figure out how to speed up the drop downs and reduce the text on portfolio entries. Hopefully I’ll be able to sort this out but my worry now is for those people who have already been and found nothing. They’re not likely to want to come back.

So here’s another free tip. Don’t go live until you’ve fully tested your site on lots of different systems and browsers. I know for a proper web developer that is just common sense but being a noob and not thinking it would make much difference I rushed in thinking a test with my small group of Facebook friends would give me enough feedback.

Firstly, as I’ve discovered on industry forums, getting constructive feedback is like pulling teeth.

Secondly despite only telling a small group of 130 FB friends I’ve had 7000+ unique visitors in 4 days. That’s so cool. But alarming. I really never expected so many people to see my unfinished website.

Not good.