13 Jul 2010

Website Wizardry… Ish

Apologies for the rather pompous title, but I thought I should actually put a post up about a handful of changes that have either happened or are going to be happening to Mana Obscura over the coming days and weeks. Some of the changes have been a long time coming (well, since the release of WordPress 3.0 at lest), but some of them have only been needed fairly recently.

If you’re reading this in a reader then you’ve probably been completely oblivious to all the changes that have been going on. Content has still been appearing, picked up by your reader and spirited directly to you. The only change may have been an additional footer in your reader posts letting you know where the content came from and perhaps some new stuff that’s appearing on the site.

So what’s been going on? Well I’m glad you asked.

Firstly, the theme has been completely rebuilt to take advantage of the new capabilities of WordPress 3. Things like Dropdown menus now work, letting me create more static pages and organise more content. I’ve also managed to catch some odd bugs, so it should display nicely now on most browsers.

I’ve also moved to using permalinks to link to content. Old links should still work, but it means that nowadays they’ll be a bit more meaningful instead of just being a bunch of random numbers. While we’re on the subject of links, the new site address of manaobscura.com has been running for a while. If you haven’t had a chance to already, you might want to update your bookmarks etc.

Search, category and tag pages should all display properly now. There have apparently been several bugs with this previously that I was blissfully unaware of until recently. One of the reasons for pushing the upgrade through quickly was to get the search fixed. Thanks to Pewter over at The ‘Mental Shaman for catching that one

I still need to do some work on the sidebar – I’m not happy with how it looks or the space it takes up or the size of the images. I’ve hired a graphic artist to put together some new images and a new logo together, so these will hopefully drop into place.

Keeping Online

One thing that I didn’t foresee when I started all of this is how popular it would be. I started this blog as a way to talk about the fun that I have with the games that I play, and to share that fun with others. I’m constantly humbled that people actually like what I write and find it interesting. Both Stu and I are blown away with how popular The Obscurecast has become, considering that it was something that we started doing because we enjoy doing it. I don’t think that we ever set out to get readers or listeners, but to just have fun with what we’re doing.

All this means that I’ve had to bump up the hosting package a few times. While I can manage the increase in costs now, I don’t want to be in the position where I start having to scale everything back because it starts getting too expensive. I love being able to write and podcast and so on, and don’t really want to limit it.

What I’ve decided to do is introduce Project Wonderful advertising. It means that I can be a bit prudent about the adverts that I show and can avoid goldseller spam. There’s also a ton of artists, Etsy sellers and so on using it, so in a way I’ll be able to support them. I figure it’ll be something of interest to everyone and hope it works out OK.

I’m still debating on a donation button. A couple of people have come forward and said they’d donate, but I really don’t fancy the idea of taking crisp currency from people. I think if I did go through with it, I’d limit it to a “buy us a beer/coffee” range rather than anything more. It’s something I’m very much on the fence about.


One of the great things about having an awesome bunch of readers is the comments we exchange. I’d love to hear what you think of all of this – the site redesign, the changes, the move into having adverts and the ideas around donations. Does it feel like I’m moving in the right direction, or would you suggest an alternative?

I feel that getting something like this right is incredibly tricky. There’s so many things to take into account, and I don’t want to alienate people by putting a foot wrong. If you think I’m about to make a huge mistake, let me know.

Fingers crossed we’ll work out a way to keep the magic going.

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7 Responses to Website Wizardry… Ish

  1. Matticus says:

    I’ve had nothing but good experiences with Project Wonderful when I used them.
    I remember going through the same problems and ethical dilemas you’re going through right now especially in regards to hosting services. Stay away from Google Adwords for sure. Don’t completely disregard any idea you might have when it comes to revenue streams to keep alive. I know first hand how expensive blogging can be (at one point, I had to shell out almost $500 a month to stay afloat).

    Feel free to drop me an email if youd like advice or suggestions or anything ^^.
    Matticus recently posted..The Aftermath of Real IDMy Profile

    • Gazimoff says:

      I’ve put in a Project Wonderful ad block on the right. I’ll see if it gets any take-up and add more if there’s demand and space for it. I’ve got a few ideas, but suggestions and ideas are always welcome 🙂

  2. Windsoar says:

    Use what you’re comfortable with and stay away from the rest! Finding an advertiser that promotes people/companies that you’re interested in supporting is definitely a boon; however, click/view advertising isn’t always very stable, so don’t throw out the donate button if you are having serious concerns about hosting costs at this time.

    It’s like I’ve told numerous business owners: charge for your services. People need/want (and trust me it’s usually want) the service being provided, you are doing the work to provide it, and they are more than willing to pay the cost. While I wouldn’t continue reading if you I was required to subscribe, I’d be more than willing to buy you a cup of joe if the option was available 🙂
    Windsoar recently posted..For You Addon DevelopersMy Profile

    • Gazimoff says:

      I’d never put in a subscription option – I like people being able to see everything I’ve produced. I’ll have a think on the donate button a bit more for now, but it’s a nice thought. Cheers!

  3. Bordy says:

    Consider a free coffee on me every time we meet, which isn’t often enough!

  4. Project Wonderful seems like a pretty nifty ad service. The ad you have up is discreet and unobtrusive. I don’t think you should feel bad about adding a donation button. People will donate or they won’t…and I’m sure you’ll find a few people happy to help you offset your costs a little. I hardly think anyone imagines you’re scaming a fortune off of things like that. 🙂

    ~ ED
    Ecclesiastical Discipline recently posted..Avoidance &amp RealityMy Profile

    • Gazimoff says:

      I hope not. Depending on the success of the current ad I have I might choose to add a couple more. We’ll see how it goes though – it’s going to take a while to judge how effective it is.

      The donate button’s deliberately geared to small donations – I don’t want anyone feeling obliged to chuck a large amount of money in, or that a small donation isn’t worth much. Besides, we tend to run on coffee 🙂