WildSnow Summer Website Remodels

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | July 11, 2016      
Our latest speed test, excellent scores.

One of our latest speed tests at gtmetrix.com, excellent scores.

Been working hard on presenting a better reader experience for you guys. Our design philosophy is along the lines of New York Times, black and grey on white, simple, let the content images and text decorate the site. Loading and response times are in my view just as important as how the site looks, so I’ve worked hard on that as well.

More, we load our content first for you, ad banners after, and our “polite” advertising is designed to not obscure your reading. No pop-ups; no site takeovers; no jiggly animation — and all ads are relevant to ski touring. Our server is slow due to a big database (nearly 3,000 blog posts and 70,000 comments!) and lots of back end security layers (and our budget), so I spent quite a bit of time doing “micro optimization” to compensate. Results are good, a score of around 97% in GTmetrix Page Speed despite the slow server.

We’ve also worked hard this past few months on making sure WildSnow works in most browsers, and we’re bucking the trend by running a specific and ultra-optimized site version for your mobile devices. A note on our mobile design: It’s supposed to be practical, with easy tap targets that’ll work with big fingers on fairly small screens. That’s an ongoing project for certain.

We’ll probably do a total site redesign at some point, but for now it’s been fun to simply see how minimal we can get. Hey, going lightweight is key, right?

Please let us know how the snappy “new” website performs for you. We’ll keep improving it all summer long. By getting all this work done, come September I can back off substantially from the admin and focus much more on front-end content. Last winter I was challenged by that balance, the future looks bright.

Thanks everyone for continuing to visit.




23 Responses to “WildSnow Summer Website Remodels”

  1. biggb July 11th, 2016 12:48 pm

    Good work on the “alpine style” website Lou!

  2. Lou Dawson 2 July 11th, 2016 1:09 pm

    Fast and light!

  3. Travis July 11th, 2016 4:01 pm

    Not a deal breaker, but I miss the email comment notifications that had the responders full comment included in the email. Made it easier to follow a thread throughout the day. All in all, I love the improvements! This site is a crucial resource for our sport.

  4. Lou Dawson 2 July 11th, 2016 5:34 pm

    Travis, it’s there. I was using an out-of-date plugin (typical) and had to redo. Just look below, make a comment and before you submit click the checkbox. It’s a little kludgy but last time I tested it worked. Let me know.

    Agree it’s a very good feature. I went to a lot of effort to keep it going.

    Thanks, Lou

  5. Travis July 11th, 2016 6:19 pm

    Hey Lou! Sorry for the confusion, but I was referring to the content of the comment notification email. The older ones had the full text of any follow up comment. In today’s format there is an abbreviated “snippet” of a follow up comment. I liked not having to leave my email to read the comment.

  6. Lou Dawson 2 July 11th, 2016 6:25 pm

    Oh, ok, I think it’s gotta stay that way, but I’ll keep it in mind. Thanks, Lou

  7. Bobby July 12th, 2016 6:18 am

    Good work, Lou. You are one of my regular go-to’s, I really enjoy the fruits of your efforts. Thank you for everything.

  8. Lou Dawson 2 July 12th, 2016 7:36 am

    Thanks Bobby, we really worked hard on this since I returned from Europe last winter. Site is so much faster, more stable, and with a cleaned up design that tests out well on various browsers. I’ll keep working on it this summer, then hopefully enjoy the freedom to do more content work starting in September.

  9. Wookie July 12th, 2016 2:13 pm

    Mobile looks good, works well.

  10. Lou Dawson 2 July 12th, 2016 2:40 pm

    Thanks Wookie!

  11. Frame August 9th, 2016 6:11 am

    Hi Lou, on our desktop site, i’m finding when you click into articles (or click on a comment on the right hand side), the coments list on the right hand side is losing a few of the more recent comments. When you come back to the home page, they re-appear.

  12. Lou Dawson 2 August 9th, 2016 7:34 am

    Hi Frame, thanks for pointing that out, yeah, sounds like that’s a glitch in the server-side page caching system. What happens is the cache is trying to be static, which it should or else it’s not very effective,I can probably fix it today. If not today, then it for sure needs to be fixed within the next few weeks before site traffic increases for fall-winter. Lou

  13. Lou Dawson 2 August 9th, 2016 9:29 am

    Hi Frame, I changed a few things with the server-side caching, let me know what you see over coming days. I’ll not touch for a while and see what happens. Problem is I can’t replicate the comment display behavior on this end very easily, though I can probably figure out a way to test if necessary.

    BTW, the shortest duration I have for browser caching (user side) is about 11 minutes. That shouldn’t affect the display of comments but you never know for sure. So if this behavior keeps happening please try and get a sense if it occurs outside of about a 12 minute window.

    Whipping this thing into shape for winter!!

    Thanks, Lou

  14. Frame August 11th, 2016 6:47 am

    HI Lou, sorry to report, I’m still having the same issue. I’ve spent more than 15 minutes on the site. When I click into an older article, I seem to lose a few of the most recent comments. When I go to home or the most recent article they newest comments come back. I’ll try at home, incase it’s a pc specific issue.

  15. Lou Dawson 2 August 11th, 2016 7:20 am

    Hi Frame, thanks, yeah, that’s because when you click into the older article you’re getting the cached version of nearly everything. I’ll keep working on it. The older cached pages expire in about 5 hours, which is adjustable on my end. What’s apparently needed is for the comments section of the page to remain dynamic. The cache fights that. I might need to cut bait and use a simpler solution. Lou

  16. Lou Dawson 2 August 11th, 2016 10:25 am

    Frame, are you not seeing the comment in the sidebar, or at the bottom of the article, or both? Having them not refresh in the sidebar is a known issue I’m trying to resolve, but you should see them at the bottom of the post. Let me know. Thanks for the help. Lou

  17. Frame August 12th, 2016 7:47 am

    Lou, just in the side bar.

  18. Lou Dawson 2 August 12th, 2016 4:41 pm

    Ok, thanks, I know exactly why that is happening, solution is the question (smile).

    Most sites don’t have comments up-front like that so they don’t have deal with how the cache behaves with that dynamic content. Typical Wildsnow, always breaking the mold.


  19. Frame September 12th, 2016 10:36 am

    Seems it’s all sorted Lou.

  20. Lou Dawson 2 September 12th, 2016 10:59 am

    Yeah, I turned off some of the fancy stuff that was actually pretty lame. Amazing how much junkware there is out there in the wild, over promising and under delivering. Site isn’t as fast now, but it seems to do the job. Perhaps I can eventually figure out a way to get back to the super-fast load times I had before, but without the problems. Thanks, Lou

  21. Lou Dawson 2 November 11th, 2016 6:32 am

    Everyone, please let me know if you’re getting any WildSnow website errors when you try to browse.

    I’m seeing some minimal glitches in the server logs, nothing major, but am trying to get a sense of how that is working on a human level.

    Thanks, Lou

  22. Frame December 18th, 2018 8:02 am

    Hi Lou,
    I don’t seem to be able to access the mobile site anymore from my android phone, using google chrome. No biggie, i’m looking at the normal version and turning my phone on it’s side, but thought i’d let you know.

    Apologies if it’s just me…

  23. Matus December 18th, 2018 9:35 am

    Same problem here.

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