But, with growth also comes growing pains and a blog update was desperately required. So, we did. Here is a run down of what is new at Get Elastic:
Upgrade to the Latest Version of Wordpress
This was the big item for us to tackle. You had been reading a blog running on an oooold version of Wordpress (and we loved it - thanks Matt and team at Automatic + all the plugin contributors we have used since launch), but it had recently been having security issues. Getting hacked isn't fun and losing data is even worse, so we are really happy to now be running on the most recent version of Wordpress (and highly recommend it to all you retailers with a blog program).
Added a Site Archive
Like any growing blog, there is a valuable archive of posts. The data collected and research done on online retail trends, tactics, and occasional hiccups needed better findability. So, you can now see a complete chronological archive of posts sorted by month - yay! We typically post once per weekday, so start digging through the archive found on the top nav bar.
Because there are now almost 500 posts, thousands of comments, tags galore, and more added daily - you needed a better way to search for topical information. The addition of a full site search tool should help. It can currently be found in the right hand side bar (you might have to scroll down, just a tad).
Special Header for Incoming Searches
If you are like me, you search starts at Google. So for those clicking Get Elastic in the search results, you are now greeted with a special header containing your key phrases entered. If you click on one of the terms, it will jump you down to the place in the post. Some posts are really long, so this should help you scan a little quicker. We are sold on this feature yet, so your feedback is welcome/desired.
Improved Related Posts
You have always had a related posts feature at the end of each post, but they were really not that good. So we've improved those too. The related posts featured at the bottom of each entry should now be better matched to actual related posts - go figure.
For all you feed readers, don't sweat. There is now related posts at the bottom of every RSS feed entry as well.
Sometimes you want to get involved with a thread of conversation around a topic. Well, you can now see the 5 most recent comments left on the blog. Quite often the comments can contain just as valuable tips as the post. Make sure you take a peak at this block on the right hand side regularly and chime in often.
This is one of my personal favorite additions. For a blog with the amount of traffic and subscribers, there could be a lot more commenting and community. You all have a lot of ecommerce experience to share - we want to learn from you too. So, you need some incentive to post comments. On the right hand sidebar, there is now a top commenter's block. Every month, the people with the most comments will be rewarded with a direct link to the website they use when commenting (this has SEO benefit as there is NO nofollow on the sidebar).
New Spam Filter
When you have a popular blog, the spammers take notice. We have stopped hundreds of thousands of spam messages from crowding the blog, but there were some drawbacks to the filter we were using. It often put comments into a holding queue until manually approved to be shown. Blah. We didn't like that. So we have switch spam protection to a new system. This should help get you comments onto the site immediately AND keep the bad guys out. We will monitor its effectiveness over the next little while. If it is better, it stays - if not, we'll look for another spam solution. Again, this is to promote more frequent commenting.
Best of the Blog
When someone is new to a site they often read one post and bounce, especially when the visit was generated from Stumbleupon, Sphinn, a search engine query on a specific topic or the like. To encourage everyone to stick around and explore, you now have a Best of the Blog guide on the right hand side. It contains the 10 most recent entries, the most popular posts (the algorithm needs some tweaking to accommodate for entries posted prior to this feature being added, but it will improve as time passes), our personal favorite posts, and quick links to the highly informative free webinar series we host at Elastic Path Software.
Every month there is a free ecommerce webinar hosted by yours truly. The topics range from merchandising to analytics to SEO... you name it, we'll cover it. Hundreds of people sign up for the webinar every month and you should too, so we made it stand out a bit more by adding the colorful background. There is no excuse now. Go sign up for the next one today! We are talking about ecommerce innovations - something you can't miss. Besides informative, it is just going to be cool.
Readability and Formatting
For those who like to browse the homepage and scan the recent entries, this one is for you. Some posts are really loooong, so we add a read more link so the homepage doesn't get too crowded. Well, we admit it - the link was hard to find in most cases. So, now it isn't.
The posts also got a few tweaks to the spacing and formatting so they are a bit more readable. Headings should now stand out a bit more.
Trackbacks no longer appear before the comments. Though we love when you link back to Get Elastic from your blogs, social bookmark sites, and forums etc, they are now showing AFTER the comments and comment entry area. We want you to post more comments, really we do.
Who Runs This Thing?
For a year we have hummed and hawed over whether we should be in your face with who runs the blog. This IS a marketing tool, no doubt about it. But, for us it is about helping the ecommerce community and delivering great online retail information. We figure we will get back what we give and for the most part, that is exactly what has happened. You never get covert marketing messages about how great Elastic Path's ecommerce platform is, or brainwashing about our key differentiators. It is really all about YOU. Even with our webinar series, we often forget to mention what we even do, and it doesn't matter.
But, it is important for you to know the background of the author of a blog post. Would you like information on analytics from Gus the mechanic or Linda the ecommerce analyst? Linda gets my vote. So, we have now added a snippet of info about who runs the ship. Really, Linda Bustos is the heart of the operation and I'd like to think I get an assist every now and then. But when it comes down to it, this is a project by Elastic Path Software and we have similar projects in the works... stay tuned.
And one last thing...
What would YOU like to see us do to improve Get Elastic? Leave a comment and tell us. If we implement your idea, you'll get credit a direct link - mmm, SEO goodness.