Site Matters

Whoops

Sorry about the downtime there.  Something broke in the caching plug-in I was using and I didn’t realize it until this morning.


Stop SOPA & PIPA

I am sure you all are aware of the opposition against SOPA & PIPA.  In case you think this is a trivial thing not likely to affect you, just know that I have had to fight several attempts from local realtors to shut down this site due to their dislike of comments made by you, the readers, about listings we have featured.  This was under the current rules of the DMCA.  These new rules will make it easier for people to abuse piracy laws to censor those they disagree with as the burden of defense is often higher than just taking down the content or self-censoring yourself to begin with.

If you would like to learn more:

http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2012/01/protesting-sopa-what-you-can-do.ars

https://www.google.com/landing/takeaction/sopa-pipa/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:SOPA_initiative/Learn_more

 

 


update.

I’ve had a number of people express interest in helping the site keep going.  For now the plan is to set up new contributor access and go from there.  Hopefully the result is more posting in a more timely manner.   I also hope to see more diversity in content.  I expect to set up the new accounts this week and hopefully posting to resume shortly thereafter.

Thank you and if you are interested in being a contributor please contact me.

B.


6 years & time to stop counting.

This week marks 6 years of this site.  It has been fun, I have met some very interesting people along the way, made new friends and looked at a lot of houses. However, at this time, Modern Austin doesn’t hold much interest for me.  That much is probably obvious due to my sporadic postings.  It falls well down the list of my priorities that includes trail running, making music, food, cocktails, wine, reading, travelling, sleeping,  my lovely wife, and 2 handfuls of crazy that are my weimaraners (not in order as the last two top the list).

If anyone wants to pick up the mantle of posting, please let me know.  I am open to any new areas of direction as well.  Just drop me a note.


5 years ….

Pushing thru the market square

So many mothers sighing

News had just come over,

We had five years left to cry in

– David Bowie



Between traveling the last 4 weeks and AT&T being the worst home internet service ever (and thankfully now kicked to the curb in favor of semi-local Grande Communications), posts lately have been sporadic.  I also missed my  anniversary post (5 years and counting).

I went back and looked at old site stats but I don’t think they are all that meaningful since around 18 months ago I switched to Google Analytics from the raw stats tracker my host provided.  The difference between the two leads me to believe the host stats application is far more optimistic and doesn’t remove robots (automated index scripts like those search engines use) and other noise traffic very well.  So I can only compare to last year with like over like numbers.

Some August Traffic Numbers (% number is year over year growth)

7,751 Vistors (+34.15%)

3,554 Unique Vistors (+31.87%)

Not bad.  Some of this growth seems tied to the housing marketing come back from the depths.

Pageviews 19,047 (-42.27%)

Average Time on Site down 6.34%

Pageviews are down due to changes in how the site is structured.  More articles on the landing page equal less clicking through the archives.  The lesson here is if you want to game pageviews (say for advertising reasons), put fewer articles on the landing page and have more intra-site linking.  Average time is down only slightly compared to page views (again more articles per page).

OS Breakdown

  • Windows:  50.12%
  • Mac:  45.01%
  • iOS (iPhone, iPod + iPad):  4.11%
  • Linux:  0.34%
  • Android:  0.23%

Nothing surprising here, except that Android is perhaps so low given the overall market gains.  Site readership skews to home browsers, which have a higher mac penetration,  and design minded sites always have a higher mac / windows ratio than market average.

Geo-location

  • Texas:  68.5%
  • California:  8.25%
  • All others below 2.5%
  • North Dakota is the lowest at 1 visitor last month

I know some readers would prefer that I block all Californians from visiting the site to discourage them from relocating here.  Doesn’t look like we have to worry about a deluge from North Dakota (most of the midwest was very small numbers).

While the year over year growth looks ok I feel the site and the readership levels in general is rather stagnate.  I know I’ve made that comment in the past.  The remedy is still the same:  regular, original content.


site upkeep

Btw, you may be noticing some subtle changes to the template here.  I am trying to improve the download performance of the site as well as make it more mobile friendly.  I was  bit surprised at how many mobile phones access the site and the iPad has only increased the mobile viewership.  I’ve eliminated the unnecessary header image that was one cause of higher load times.  I’d like to do away with the drop down menus at the top since those are less than ideal on touch interface devices but will take more work to the template.  In the meantime, those links are largely duplicated on the right sidebar.

The biggest change will be that I am going to start removing links to flash based websites, especially for listings.  I’ve always hated Flash based websites since they typically meant poorly designed interfaces and slow downloads.  Many virtual tours Flash (and Java) sites are a common and prime example.  Plus, who the eff creates websites that autoplay music and thinks that is a good idea?  Even MySpace is knocking that crap off.  Anyhow, rant aside, Flash and Java based sites don’t play well with mobile devices and since we here at ModernAustin are forward looking people, I am going to limit links to sites that don’t get their act together.

If you have any suggestions on how to make the site easier to use, please drop me a note.

Cheers.


This and that

MellLawrence-homepage

Sorry about the post drying up.  There seems to be very little new listings the past few months.  I heard there was something amiss in financing last year, maybe that put a damper on things.  I was filling that gap with some out of town stuff but it started to get over weighted on the balance.  I haven’t been out taking pictures in months and months.  Blame the evil heat, the job, slacking.

Today was day 1 of reshaping the landscaping / walk-way / patio area.  Hopefully I can have people over again soon without fear of broken ankles and / or mud.  I’ll posted pictures as it progresses.

Don’t forget the AIA Tour this weekend.  You can check out the Mell Lawrence place pictured above.

Here are 2 homes that I listed a while ago that you may have missed.  The price were updated somewhat recently as well.

Stenger – Robert E Lee

MLK – Mid Century update


Site tinkering

It seems the new site has had some issues with user registrations and commenting.  As such, I went back to the old method which means a couple things:

The first time you post, your comment will get held for moderation.  It isn’t that I want to moderate, but it is the only way to combat the spam bots.

You still are required to enter a user name and email address.  For the same spam control reasons.  However, you are not required to create an account just to comment (you can but don’t have too).

Also, MLS Listings is on the blink right now (Tuesday, Feb 3rd).  I suspect they’ll be back up shortly.  If they continue to be an issue, I guess it will be off to yet another listing provider.  Note to MLS Finder: Cold Fusion?!?! Really?!?


Modern Austin Redesign

2622195788_a1c845f93f_b

As you can see, Modern Austin under went a fairly extensive overall.  It will remain a work in progress for a while as I sort out the kinks and get your feedback.

Among the changes:

  • New design.  More of a magazine style rather than straight up blog.  We’ll see how this works.
  • Resource directory.  (example)
  • Marketplace section.  Sections for for sale houses, for lease, and furniture.  For lease & furniture are hidden right now until I get some listings to put up.  If you have something to submit, click here.
  • ShareThis integration for easier posting to your favorite RSS, bookmarking, or social networking sites.

A couple of other notes:

  • I only brought over some of the content.  The old site is here if you were looking for something.
  • I am going to attempt to keep up on marketplace items and take them down as they go off the market.  In doing so I’ll look to implement a reporting tool in case I miss some so you can help me keep the site up-t0-date.
  • You now must register to make comments.  This is to cut back on spam and make it easier for returning visitors to comment.  Go here to register.
  • I going to keep it ad free for now, though that may change.
  • You may have to update your RSS feed (sorry).

Please let me know your thoughts and / or if anything doesn’t work as expected.

Ben.