Updated 30th Oct 2014; this changes no longer applicable to chowtimes.wordpress.com.
I love the long weekend with nothing to do but tinker around the blog.
A few months ago, we starting having problems again with our shared hosting facility. The traffic on chowtimes had been growing so fast that we knew that gone are the days when we only have to pay $7 a month for shared hosting. To deal with the performance issues, we started to strip functionality. Despite all the changes, that did not quite do it for the hosting company.
Two months ago, we pulled the trigger and migrated the site to a Virtual Dedicated Server. The performance improvements were obvious. The very day we went live, the traffic jumped 15% and since then we are nearing a quarter million pageviews a month. I guess people are reading more when the site is faster and more responsive.
With enough processing power at our disposal now, I have made some changes to the site and wanted to let you know what they are. Here it is …
The Wibiya Toolbar
First of all, we had removed the Wibiya Toolbar which we used to handle search, translations and other fancy stuff. Many people were not aware that the toolbars are there. Well, we are not surprised because it was tucked at the bottom of the site. We had been monitoring the use of the toolbar and on a good day, only about 20 people accessed it. Moreover, I did not like the way it is integrated to the site.
So, good riddance.
Google Custom Search
We reinstated the Google Custom Search which is tightly integrated to chowtimes. The search results remain displayed on the site without throwing the searcher to Google’s own site. What I like best is that the search widget even does AutoComplete like it does on Google.com. Fancy!
Go ahead and check it out. It is on the top right hand corner of the page.
I also re-included the Google Translation widget. I know it does a horrible job in translations but still it is the best there is out there. It’s amazing … it can translate chowtimes.com into 60 different languages.
Wunderbar … 素晴らしい … чудесный … رائع … Kahanga-hanga … आश्चर्यजनक … maravilloso … 훌륭한
I miss the Slide Show. Those of you who remember chowtimes in the early days would know that we had a slide show in the header section. It shows pictures of food and does not do much else.
I found this nice little WordPress plugin called SlideDeck today and decided to put this up. It is a lot more easier to manage and configure. Clicking on the picture will take you direct to the featured post. I like it.
This will be useful for me to call out some of the more popular old posts.
Printing The Page on Chowtimes.com
This update will not be apparent to most of you. You see, the site had been horrible when it comes to printing. Many people wrote to us complaining that each time they wanted to print a recipe, the site spews out 3 pages of data and 9 pages of info they don’t need.
I finally figured out how to deal with this. It is done via CSS. So, now when you print SINGLE posts, the output is much cleaner. You can use Firefox to check this out by doing a Print Preview.
Let me know what you guys think of these improvements.