The last few weeks have been incredibly productive, as well as doing a huge amount of work on Higgypop.com, I've also made some brutal and pretty significant changes to some of my other websites.
First off I've changed the site from HTTP to HTTPS, in other words I've made the site secure using Cloudflare, as browsers have started notifying users when webpages aren't secure, it seemed like a logical piece of work to carry out or soon non-secure sites might be ranked down in search results or blocked in the same way Google punishes sites which aren't mobile compliant and how Flash has been blocked in many browsers.
I've also added newsletter subscription to the website, I previously used Mail Chimp but now I'm collecting, verifying and adding email address to my own database. I'll still manage unsubscribes and mail outs through Mail Chimp but the reason I've stopped using it for sign ups is because it turns out that it's been revealing my home address.
It seems it some sort of regulation that when you sign up to a mailing list the user should know the registered street address of the organisation, that's fine for a company but for individuals like me it's not great to have your postal address splashed over the internet.
The only reason I found this out was because I received a letter through the post from one of my YouTube subscribers, while it was a really nice gesture, I'd rather not get bits through the post.
I've also made some changes to the right-hand column of the site, designed to improve page load speeds, basically the "featured video" no longer loads a YouTube embed, instead it displays a thumbnail until the mouse rolls over the image and then it is replace with the YouTube iframe.
To make real-time blogging a better experience for the users, I've now added a "live blog mode" which can be switched on for a specific page. When a page is 'live' there is a banner at the top of the page telling the user that the content will automatically update every 30 seconds. Now page elements added (such as text, image or videos) display at the top of the page. When the event is taken out of live mode the order it reverse to make a permanent chronological article of the event. I'm thinking this might be handy for live blogging along with television shows like 'Most Haunted Live' should it return at Halloween.
I've also made some changes to my Amazon store integration to limit the number of API calls allowing me to have more product on one page.
August marks the 40th anniversary of one of the most famous haunted house cases in the world, the Enfield poltergeist. To celebrate the anniversary I've put together a week's worth of a content, some of the best researched and most complete content I've ever put together. In total there is over 10,000 words spread across seven pages, including one written by a regular guest writer and friend.
There are countless pages on the Enfield haunting online and I wanted to do something that hadn't been done before. So I put together a complete timeline of paranormal activity, in order to do this I needed to add a timeline widget to my website.
Another big change to Higgypop over the last month has come after I've shut down one of my longest running websites, Nettleden.com. The site which has specialised in secret bunkers and urban exploration for the last years is no more. Nettleden wasn't mobile compliant, it needed to be made secure as it had user login pages and it generally just needed some love and attention... but the site gets less than 10% of the traffic that Higgypop.com gets so it just wasn't worth the time.
So instead I gave Nettleden's content an instant update by moving it over to the already mobile compliant and secure pages of Higgypop.com. I occasionally blog about underground places and secret bases on this site anyway so hopefully that fresh content will support the existing Nettleden pages.
As part of the move I went back to the original source photographs and upgraded all the photos of bunkers to higher resolution images. All this content now lives at higgypop.com/underground and I've added the primary page tag into a Google Analytics call which enables me to track content by topic across all URLs.
As well as shutting down Nettleden, I've also closed down burlingtonbunker.co.uk which was a micro-site supporting Nettleden, also revzo.com and stevehiggins.co.uk which were both sites I used to promote my web design and content creation skills, all that content has now been ported into the 'work with me' section of Higgypop.com.
Another casualty of my website cull is my parody search engine, Speedy Pete's Internet Directory. The site, which was built on top of the Google search API, was never massively popular and Google had updated their API which broke Speedy Pete. Despite being literally inundated with complaint (that's not a typo), it wasn't worth the effort to get the site working again.
That really just leaves me with three websites now, Higgypop.com, Countdown To Red Cups and ratemycrush.com. Rate My Crush also got a bit of an update this month but nothing noticeable, I just moved it over to my Rackspace server which allowed me to shut down an old Host Media UK package which was also once home to the Burlington Bunker and Speedy Pete sites. It's not a huge saving but every little helps.