Musings on Photography

Ten Years on the Web

Posted in web issues, Websites by Paul Butzi on January 25, 2008

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Sometime this spring is the 10th anniversary of my photographic presence on the WWW. Sometime in the first quarter of 1998, I created a very small website – one photo and an article on VC printing (which had been published in Photo Techniques back when Mike Johnston was editor). My motivation was simple – I’d just faxed a copy of the article to an email correspondent in Germany, and it cost me something like 25 bucks to send the fax. Putting the article on the web meant that when people asked for copies of the article I could just point them to the web site.

Over time, that web site grew, changed URLs several times, and ended up at www.butzi.net. It’s been through several major design revisions. It’s due for another, and overdue for new, fresh content. It’s been languishing, because most of the time and energy has been directed at this blog instead.

That’s partly because about a year ago I started thinking that I’d have more fun with a blog than I did with the fairly static website. Blogs were new, I thought. My thoughts on this solidified somewhat when Colin Jago referred to such websites as ‘legacy’ websites – websites that represented a different era in WWW history.

So, for a host of reasons, the number of updates to http://www.butzi.net dropped off to zero, and this blog became the main focus. Round about the middle of the year, I examined the statistics for both the old website and the blog, and it appeared that by the end of the year, the traffic at the old website would have dropped off substantially, and the traffic on the blog would probably hold steady. I thought of this as confirmation that I was pursuing the right path.

Earlier this week, though, I was browsing the statistics for this blog, and thought to go and check the statistics for the old website. And, to my surprise, my prediction for the old website was wrong. Traffic there hasn’t dwindled down to near zero – it’s increased steadily. It will take a little analysis to figure out what’s going on, but as a first take, it seems to be that much of the increased traffic is hitting the galleries of images. If true, that would be darn interesting.

Anyway, I think I’m changing my mind. Old, ‘legacy’ websites aren’t dead. Mine seems to be going strong, just racking up the hits without my investing much energy in it. And the blog traffic just seems to keep on growing, slowly but surely. The blog gets some number of hits that come over from the old website, and it appears that the converse is true as well.

I don’t have any firm conclusions yet. But it’s got me thinking that blogs and more static websites are really two faces of a complete web presence, and that I should go ahead and invest the effort into bringing the website up to date and in getting the blog and the website more closely and sensibly integrated. Blogs have the advantage that there’s always lots of nice, fresh content, but the disadvantage that often the content is somewhere between completely disorganized and poorly organized. For most blogs, it’s easy for the author to update the content and hard for the viewer to connect with the content except on a daily visits viewing the freshest content. The older content just seems to languish, because it’s so hard to find.

Just food for thought.

7 Responses

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  1. Doug said, on January 25, 2008 at 2:36 pm

    My web site got a lot of traffic to my images when I had them posted there. The traffic, however, was almost all from referrer spammers.

    Those low-lifes were chewing up a huge chunk of my monthly bandwidth allotment when they didn’t even want to look at the pictures at all. So I took the pictures down.

  2. Rosie Perera said, on January 25, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    Very helpful thoughts. I’ve been intrigued by how mnay people seem to be moving towards blogs as their main (or only) web presence, even when they have much static content. There are ways of organizing a blog that go beyond the mere chronological posting of articles. For example, a lot of churches seem to be going with WordPress to host their sites. That is an interesting application, since there is definitely chronological blog-like content (the weekly posts of sermon audio files, etc.) but then there’s a lot of general information that is going to be pretty static. Here’s a series of articles on Using WordPress as a CMS (a less blog-ish, more conventional Content Management System). Note in particular the links from the first article to some examples of people “Using WP for a Portfolio Site.”

  3. Rory said, on January 25, 2008 at 9:16 pm

    Sincere congratulations to you, Paul. Ten years also means, good grief, that I’ve been reading your stuff, and looking at your pictures, for about eight years now. Yes, yes, I’ll make an appointment to see the psychiatrist tomorrow.

    I’m also glad you mentioned that old content on blogs are hard to find: I thought I was alone in thinking that. Blogs can sometimes really infuriate me when I’m looking for something specific.

  4. John Setzler said, on January 25, 2008 at 9:25 pm

    I think blogs, such as WordPress, are excellent front ends for any type of website. You can combine your static content with the dynamic all under one roof. I don’t keep up with traffic to my own sites for any particular reason. I just think it’s cool to look at it every now and then and see all the little dots on the map that indicate where people are looking from 🙂

  5. Ed Richards said, on January 26, 2008 at 8:26 am

    I put up my first WWW page in 1995, and have continued to add to the site over time. (http://biotech.law.lsu.edu/) It is a public information site that is adjunct to my academic work, so I am not trying to sell anything.

    Much of the site is republished public documents, with most of the value being the organization and internal linking. I have been very careful to not physically move documents when I update the organization so that external links in continue to work over time.

    I do not get a lot of visitors (about 1000 a day), but the number increases gradually with time, and link analysis show that the incoming links increase with time. It has become a standard reference in my specialty area and generates a lot of good will, including interviews with major media. A blog would attract more hits, especially on topical areas, but for the reasons Paul presents, it would be like a newspaper, as compared to reference book.

    Having been in the electronic game for a long time (punch cards and paper tape long), I am concerned about the persistence of blogs. I control the content and presentation of my WWW site, I can move it to new servers, software, and platforms, and since it is simple HTML, I lose nothing. One of my concerns with blogs, is that even if you do a good job of indexing and linking, what if your vender shuts down?

    Luminous Landscape is one of the most successful photography sites, dealing both topical info like equipment tests and more persistent info like articles on developing your vision as an artist. None of this is blog driven, the main entry point is the news page.

    My bottom line – if what you have to offer are ephemeral opinions and discussions of current events, then do a pure blog. If you want a presence through time to build up your reputation in your craft, I think you need a WWW site, but I also think a blog that links into that site could be very useful.

  6. Bryan Willman said, on January 26, 2008 at 7:09 pm

    First Part – It’s quite striking (weird) to see that photograph on the web. It’s my van. I was sitting 3 feet away when it was taken. The scene is utterly famaliar. Yet it now looks like a scene from some glamourous world far away from anywhere I’ve ever been.

    Second Part – Blogs are mostly “streams of writing” or “modulated streams of writing” (people saving up entries so there can be a “new” one every day or few days.) This makes them like newspapers (which are all about Right Now.) But fo course, you don’t normally grovel through a stack of newspapers to look up a word or law of physics or some bit of geography. Just as you don’t consult a dictionary for news. Neither of these structures (“static” data versus “dynamic” data) will ever replace the other.

    Third Part – the number of visitors, the number of unique visitors, the number of unique visitors who are not spambots or victims thereof are all interesting, but they’re really just proxies for something else (usually). The something else is defined by the author. For businesses it will be sales (direct or indirect). For some bloggers, it would seem to be fame or infamy. For Ed Richards it might be some measure of “public awareness of details of this issue.” Of course the “real effect” or “real benefit” are hard to measure, but ones should always remember that page counts are just a surrogate.

  7. Ed Richards said, on January 26, 2008 at 9:50 pm

    > Of course the “real effect” or “real benefit” are hard to measure, but ones should always remember that page counts are just a surrogate.

    That is certainly true. With spyders and spammers, they may not even be a surrogate of real life. Tools like Google Analytics help with sorting those out, as well as pages that attract meaningless hits – i.e., a page that has some critical search term like, in my case, Medicaid eligibility, that drew lots of folks by accident.

    Unless you only live in cyberspace, it is very reassuring to having hits translate into personal contacts about your work.


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