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June 10, 2007 | Predicting Referrals from First Results
Everybody knows that websites ranking first on Google for popular search terms get a lot of referrals, but how many referrals are "a lot"? Does the first search result drive significantly more traffic than results two through five? Last August that question got a lot easier to answer when America Online inadvertently released the search history of over 650,000 members. Within days, SEO bloggers had downloaded the data, done the math, and posted some very exact answers. Continue reading The Funniest Words on the Web.
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August 27, 2006 | The Practice of Holistic Web Design
In July 2005 I wrote a blog post called Make Money with the Internet in which I posited three rules for building a revenue-generating website. I ended the post by claiming I had a few ideas for such a website and promised that I would update this blog with a case study once I had built something. The good news is that now, over a year later, I’ve finally put the finishing touches on a new website called Inherently Funny, a database of funny names, funny songs, and more. Of course, the requisite bad news is that the site makes almost no money. There are a lot of good reasons for this—for one thing, I only followed one of my three rules for building a revenue-generating website—but despite this lack of success, I don’t believe Inherently Funny was a wasted effort. Whether or not my idea for an online database of jokes without punch lines was any good, building the site did remind me that good web design requires more than simply knowing HTML and Photoshop. Good web design is in fact a holistic practice requiring the additional knowledge of search engine optimization, web usability, and web analytics. I wouldn’t expect anyone to simply take my word for it though, so what follows is a discussion of each of the three fields and examples of how I applied them to Inherently Funny. Continue reading Anatomy of a Website.
December 28, 2005 | How Databases Created the User
Last weekend I finished several fixes and additions to this website, and now, with the exception of the Notes section, Whiskey and Aspirin is complete. The Notes section will feature a searchable database of design-related quotes, so today I began reading Build Your Own Database Driven Website Using PHP & MySQL, a how-to programming guide written by Kevin Yank and published by Sitepoint. While I’m looking forward to using this book to study databases in practice, in many ways I’m even more excited about studying databases in theory. It may sound geeked out and soulless, but over the next few years I expect databases to fully transform our art and culture and, in the process, become the subject of a large body of critical work. So before I start delving into technical details of databases, I thought I would take one last opportunity to write about the subject as a non-programmer. Continue reading From Author to Reader to User.