Friday, September 18, 2009

A Tale of Websites

A very long time ago I created my first website. I did so because my friend said it was kinda 'cool' and I should definitely do so. Naturally I rushed off to as he directed and created my account.

Everyone in school had a website then. My friends said "My name is XXXX. I am 12 years old. I like Cheetahs." Funny enough he soon started getting mails from a retired American Navy Man who was in his late 40's. I thought it was a bit odd, but being 12 I didn't know what it was. This guy kept mailing my friend as months went by informing him about how he just bought a new computer and it just went on. Apparently he really liked Cheetahs too! I figure now that he was definitely a Pedo...

Anyway this first site was lame, as lame as everyone else's. So I wanted to create something that wasn't crap. So being a big fan of Star Wars Jedi Knight II, I created a site to host something I made. A secret locations guide. OoooooH!

This time though not satisfied with the Angelfire web editor and also because of the significant cost associated with creating pages online I used notepad instead. These were the days when connecting to the Internet was only associated with Peeky Peeky Peeky PEEEEEKYYYYYYYYYYYY Peeky Peeky Peek.

But creating the site in this manner required careful planning. Having a fair number of pages I soon learned the problem of using the regular linking, which created links that led to my harddrive... very frustrating. Changes in structure also lead to broken links in multiple places. Uploading images also had to be planned to military precision to save money. All in all it was fun and had quite a few pages. I liked my site, it was cooler than the other crap everyone else had, but it never really took off. I was pleased, it had a set scope of content which I achieved and that was that. Eventually it was forgotten.

It was much later that I created a different site that actually had some traffic. In 2004 a game called Chrome came out. I kinda liked it though it wasn't great. Went on to the official forum and somehow got stuck there. I ended up answering people's queries on there, and there were a lot of ANGRY people for the game's shortcomings.

Soon the dev's asked me to become the official moderator. I did. Then I noticed that a lot of the complaints were being repeated in different threads, newer threads. So in my infinite wisdom I created a FAQ of well... FAQ's! I dubbed it ingeniously... the I'm Stuck Guide! I then needed a place to host it...

Dun Dun Dun... the birth of a new website, this time on Geocities. I started with the I'm Stuck Guide which significantly reduced the number of complaints on the official forum. Over time the FAQ grew... but then new less frequent problems came along, like how to play etc.

So then I expanded... added a full walkthrough complete with picturZ! I created a homepage (with a picture!) that led to another index page of stuffs. Soon the traffic was rolling in. My account was being taken off due to exceeding daily allotted bandwidth. But this was due to large images being scaled down. One user actually sent me a mail telling me to resize them and to use IrfanView. I still use it today.

So after resizing all the images, I still got blocked after bandwidth usage was too high. Then another user told me to switch to his brothers web hosting service, with no bandwidth restrictions. After some consideration I did. There were some relatively minor challenges, but the site was eventually completed and traffic was still good. I monitored with Stat Counter. Days with peak activity were tied to excessive activity on the Chrome official forum. I still moderated there. I created sticky threads linking to my site, and my signature also linked to my site.

The dev's of Chrome... Techland based in Poland sent me some freebies for my trouble. A Chrome mug and shirt.CoolZ. The forum was managed and the site kept getting traffic.

But then an unsolvable problem hit the game. The complaints got larger and larger, more vocal. Fusioncities was bought over and my site just erased. I wasn't making any profit from these activities and eventually exited.

Today I realize that creating a site is easy. The challenge lies in the maintenance and growth which is achieved through the creation of relevant and rich content. If you don't plan for it and successfully capture/hold people's attention, then you're pretty much doomed. Content is king.

1 comment:

  1. man this post took me down memory lane to the time I created my first site, when I was about 13... I pretty much sucked at typing back then, and most of my content were images and text copied off other sites, but it was fun, and I learned loads of HTML that I still use to this day... (I had those very same image linking problems too! lol) :D

    and today, my blog gets more traffic per week than what my site got during it's lifetime... so content (still crappy, albeit original) is indeed king... :D