Posts filed under “Weblogs”
Congratulations, its a MailChimp!
Those 19,206 of you who receive The Big Picture via email at 7pm EST each day may have noticed a few changes this past week.
The reason for this is the mail server we use. It used to be via Feedburner, but we switched over to MailChimp.
There were a few reasons for this, but the main one was that Feedburner is a Google property, and since they just killed Reader, I expect Feedburner may be next on the chopping block. Rather than wait and scramble, I wanted to be proactive. Feedburner was great — it was free, and relatively simple to manage. However, it was not very user definable. Mailchimp costs about $150 a month, but it is far more robust. Lots of it is user definable functions, designs, and plenty of analytics.
Mailchimp is a double opt in — you have to sign up, then click a link on a received email. (Note this is very different than giant spam factory known as ConstantContact, who suck).
A few notable elements: I can create dedicated email lists for different functions: In addition to getting the site via email each day, I can create a separate email list for The Big Picture Conference, for our Asset Management Commentary, for other eBooks we create, etc.
All told it is a pretty cool tool.
If it looks somewhat different, well bear with us. I am still learning all the various configurations, colors, etc.
I have had an odd couple of weeks, where some really strange, rather interesting things keep happening to me. I don’t know how else to describe this except to say life can be oddly fascinating.
I am usually pretty cynical; I tend towards the critical, and yes, I have been called a curmudgeon.
Just to prove that I am not in a dark mood all the time, here are some things that have pleasantly surprised me recently:
• Checked luggage: During a jaunt of travel from NY to Denver to Vancouver to NY to Maine to NY again, I never waited more than 7 minutes for my checked luggage. Clocked on the iPhone’s timer, from the moment I arrived at baggage claim to when I physically collect my bags, no more than 420 seconds.
• Delta Terminal at LaGuardia is actually nice: Not the new one, but the old crappy one — pretty much gut renovation, lots of seating everywhere, tons of power outlets — and affixed iPads for free web browsing. (I checked my passport to make sure I was in the right country),
• Took a friend apartment shopping. First place we saw I said “He’ll take it.” Make him fill out paperwork; We then looked at 6 other places — none remotely as good. Agent said “Good thing you took that place — 9 other people tried to get it.”
• Lost my anchor 2 weeks ago. That is not a spiritual reference, I literally snagged what I suspect is an undersea communications cable in the Long Island Sound in 39 feet of water in my little dingy. Despite lots of trying, could not get free — had to cut it loose, thinking, “there goes $500.” On Monday, I find a replacement on eBay for $30 and order it. I come home from work the next day and there is a box sitting on my front porch with a Danforth anchor in it. I am amazed.
• WTF Podcast: I continually am amazed at the high quality content that is given away for free. WTF is a perfect example of that. It is my favorite Airplane entertainment. When I am too tired to read but not focused enough to watch a movie, WTF podcasts are the ideal time killer. They are just perfect little vignettes, smart conversations that you get to listen to. Funny, insightful, entertaining stuff.
• NYC Rocks: Walk down the streets of NY, filled with electricity, tourists, and office workers living out their lives. So much intellectual capital, all in one place. If you don’t feed off the energy in this city, you are probably already dead. (The 7 Train: Deserves its own mention for being so fast and damned reliable).
• My Co-Workers are great: I work with some terrific people. Today was the last day for our summer interns — they get some R&R before returning to Amherst and University of Pennsylvania. My colleagues are smart, funny, pleasant people to work and hang with. We are doing good things for people and bringing the truth to those who need (Preach it, brother!) I am thrilled to be part of this team.
• Technology is Magic: What we can do with software today was simply beyond imagining 10 years ago. It is a wondrous time, your life is better when you can appreciate these things.
Tomorrow, I will go back to being a curmudgeon, but I wanted to get these few things out there . . .
Video: Louis CK on Conan, “Everything is amazing and nobody is happy” after the jump.
On Sunday, I pulled aside a few links about how ESPN convinced Nate Silver to join them (and ABC/Disney) when his 3 year contract ended with the Times. The Politico version was the deep dive into the back story. Since I scheduled that to post, a few new articles have come around, the mos interesting of…Read More
I did a longish, NSFW, no holds barred interview with Marco Nappolini and the folks at Pieria. The concept of the series was “to shed light on the motivations, inspirations and writing processes of some of the leading financial bloggers.” I suspect I gave them more than they were looking for. Here is an…Read More
In light of that incidence last week with those terrible pop up ads, I have a question for the assembled multitudes: Running the blog at this point requires a decent amount of expenditures. Hosting, editorial assistance, research all costs some shekels, and that cost is covered with the current advertisers. I keep getting pitched on…Read More
A quick note on some of our commentary in April — it has been an interesting month for TBP. On April 9th, I mentioned that the Great Rotation theme was incorrect: It was not stocks into bonds, as is so commonly claimed. Rather, it was a New Great Rotation: Commodities into Bonds. Since then, Bond…Read More
I have seen immediate improvement in the site: The main page loads 4X faster; it now generates much more detailed page analytics (what people are and are not clicking on/reading); the page views/visitor have increased. The average length of time per post has also increased.
Based on your comments and emails, here are the changes I implemented:
• Changed the color scheme from candy color to something more subdued
• Reduced the size of the artwork (“marginalia”)
• Reduced the size and color of the navigation links in the header
• Removed the Twitter/Facebook/G+/Linked In icons from all 10 home page posts (only on the top/open post)
• Removed superfluous content in the sidebar
• Reduced the number of adverts on the page;
Since the last few iterations, the site is light and fast and pleasing to the eye.
I still think the navigation links up top are too big and spread out – since the way I run my business is strictly word of mouth and referral, I prefer these to be smaller and less in your face. Also, I think I can get rid of “Home” and just go with: Asset Management/Speaking/Book /Contact.
I still have a few other things left to tweak:
• Reduced the size of icons next to each headline ((I’d like to make those icons about 30-40% less large on the page as well)
• Reduce navigation links down a font size
• Replace blue Favicon with old color (black & tan)
• Make the “Read More” red or more visible
The 5 little icons correlate to the tabs in the old design. According to Google Analytics, those old icons were hardly clicked. The reason, I assume, is as soon as you scrolled an inch or two, they were off your screen.
Your most emailed questions and their answers are after the jump . . .
How crazy cool is this: Back in 2007, a TED video discussed a list of 100 websites you should know and use. It became one of their more popular pages. They just updated 100 Websites You Should Know and Use, and through some administrative snafu, the Big Picture is right there in the BUSINESS +…Read More
Discover the antidote to bad business writing and gain the edge over your competition. Give me one hour a day for 30 days and this book will make you a better writer. 30 Days to Business Better Writing by Matthew Stibbe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales…Read More
Here is the general overview of what most readers were saying:
The positives: Cleaner; Site loads much faster (about 4X); is more stable; creates more meta-data about posts; generates more page views per visitor.
The negatives: Clicking to open pages annoys some; colors are distracting; sidebar is “filler.”
Overall seemed positive, with the two biggest complaints being clicking to open pages and the candy colors.
If the layout were to open every post, there is a load penalty for graphics, flash, charts, video, etc. This applies to all pages, even the ones that you may not be interested in.
That tradeoff is something I don’t want to make, and too be blunt, I don’t find clicking on a page to be all that troublesome. The tradeoff of speed for convenience is huge, and it simply mean you have to click.
Perhaps a good balance could be achieved opening the first 2 or 3 posts.
As to the candy colors, I totally agree — they did not translate that well from the original design to a web version. It is something I plan on changing shortly.
I have been thinking about variations on the illustration theme; one possibility is after the jump.
Please share your thoughts.