Our blog after three successful years

CycleSeven is coming up to the age of three – on the 1st of November to be exact. Here is the first Post. Since then, between us, we have produced an excellent website. I can’t remember exactly what my expectations were at the outset, but they have definitely been exceeded! Plus, I do hope that you feel that CycleSeven is ‘our’ website, not mine. That was part of the plan I do remember.

At the very start, Nick Cutler – an early contributor – began commenting on my Posts and I asked him whether he thought it was right for the authors to comment amongst themselves. We are not a forum, I said, but a blog. He didn’t see why it mattered, and I think he was right. We do receive comments from others but most of it is between us. In that sense CycleSeven is a ‘mini-forum’. How many of the 700-800 daily visits is us I don’t know but I suspect most of our recorded visits are from the general public – a decent readership IMO.

To stimulate a higher proportion of comments from outsiders would require a significant increase in daily visits. This could be done in two ways: (i) through Post titles, and (ii) more links to our pages from other websites.

Post titles are especially relevant in achieving more ‘traffic’ because they matter to search engines such as Google, Bing, etc. The closer the words in a title match the words that someone searches for, the greater the chance of traffic from (mostly) Google. I wrote about this some time ago here and here. However, I can see how the most attractive title might not be the best search-engine-friendly one, so there is a balance between attracting more visitors and the best user experience. I’m sure we don’t want boring titles anyway. I have no firm view on this – it is just something to bear in mind when writing Posts (I have occasionally added the word “cycling” to Garry’s titles, simply because I assumed he’d like them read by other cyclists rather than purely people searching for place names).

To the extent that the blog is our personal cycling diary and a record to be savoured years from now (this is partly why I do it), receiving a larger number of outside visitors perhaps doesn’t matter too much. A significant increase traffic might also result in a higher number of trivial comments that require extra moderation for spam, silliness, etc. The main thing is to appreciate that titles can make a difference to who visits and why.

As a small celebration of our three years blogging – and because I’ve recently acquired a smartphone (for only £10 per month) – I have now created a mobile version of CycleSeven. Smartphones are increasingly used to access the web so I think this was well worth doing. I’ve programmed the server to detect what sort of device a visitor is using and to use a different layout if they are on a smartphone. The mobile version displays reasonably well on Android and iPhone – not sure about Blackberry as I don’t have access to one but hopefully on those too. On tablets the website should display as on a normal computer.

The mobile version of CycleSeven is really the same website so there’s no need to do anything differently when posting. It just displays in narrow format to suit the smaller screen size and a few things like the Garmin ‘iframes’ (unfortunately don’t seem to display properly) and the smiley option (cut and paste not doable) are removed. If you get a chance to view the site on a smartphone and something looks wrong, please let me know.

Lastly, if you have any views on how we can improve the website by design (or content) please let me know too (by email or even better, by commenting on this Post). I have no plans to change the simplicity of the current design but if there is a consensus that something could be improved, I’d like to know!

Just remembered one last question… should we try to enlist a new author or two? Do you know someone who is burning to write about cycling and will fit our ethos?