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Project blogs for everyone!
Well, I haven't done anything with this site in years but my brother actually still uses it occasionally. Since it needed some maintenance recently (Heroku upgraded something and broke the site), I thought I might as well do a (very) quick update and get it on a real domain instead of the Heroku one. I actually still think this site is a good idea! Most people just use Twitter these days, but it's nice to have a more permanent log of stuff you're working on. Anyway, I'm not planning on actually working on the site but I might put up a few side projects I've worked on over the last few years that don't currently have a home. Hopefully it still works...
This website has been on the back burner for a little while. I haven't really tried advertising the site at all - although I'm happy for people to discover and use it organically, I'm still debating where it carve out a niche in the world of internet project blogging. I'm interested to know if anyone has any feedback on the site - please let me know in the discussion page if you do! Are there any simple changes that you'd like to see? What would make you more likely to actually use this site? Or does Twitter pretty much fulfill everyone's project marketing needs these days? Any ideas for encouraging more of a real community here?
Progress Made is now being served over SSL, so that's nice. I just made the whole thing SSL rather than just the sign-in. I'm not actually sure why everyone doesn't do that since it's easy and prevents session hijacking. Maybe it's a cosmetic thing?
I also updated the project cards on the browse page. They look more like Kickstarter project cards now, but it was just bugging me before when they weren't all the same size and the bottom of the page would get all erratic and uneven. Now everything is neat. It's not done yet; I still want to put some more useful information in there like an updated timestamp, and I also want to make the progress bars more obvious.
I also put in generated images for when there's no project image. I would rather people provide their own project images, but having a default image made it possible to make the project cards all the same size (previously, projects without images had smaller cards). The images are stored on Amazon S3 which was really a breeze to get set up, so that was nice for a change. It was pretty hard to get SciPy installed on Heroku because pip couldn't figure out how to install it and NumPy together (the solution was this custom buildpack).
And finally, Google routes every automated email from progressmade.co into spam! I have no idea why that's happening since they are the exact same emails that used to come from devlogs.io. Hopefully after a few people click "Not Spam" it will stop happening, so please look out for that if you get a chance.
Why the new name? A few reasons:
If you have an even better, catchier name for the site, let me know! Maybe we can change it every year.
It's important to not underestimate the number of coffees/teas/pastries that were + will continue to be consumed until a logo is finished! Aside from that, one tactic we took to naming + branding this website was Oliver says some combination of words and I sketch the first thing that comes to mind. It works - sort of.
We probably wont' be using any of the above ideas, but if nothing else it's a good exercise in design sprinting.
The last 20% of the work takes 80% of the time! Of course, that just means I did not correctly estimate how long things would take in the first place.
Actually, I've been out-of-state for most of the past month and have not had much time to work on the site. What is exciting is that I've gotten some legitimate feedback based on actual usage. As a result, the front page project "cards" now show follower count instead of view count. Follower count is just more interesting to see. Also, when you hover over the number of followers, you can now see who's following your project.
I'm glad I put this site up as soon as possible, even though it isn't all working yet. It would be nice to get a few more project creators posting occasional updates so I can get more usage feedback. I have gotten a few visits by indirectly posting to reddit, but no new organic users yet. That leads me to wonder if there should be an obvious "please sign up" link, but I don't want to nag people either. I could also make a marketing splash page, but I was hoping to avoid that since I'd rather focus on functionality.
Here's a link to my trello board if anyone is curious to see what's left to do for the MVP (and what comes next).
I definitely don't have time to be working on the site right now, but as long as I'm procrastinating I might as well get stuff done (I realize the irony of this statement).
Check out the new formatting guide links at the bottom of every edit box. It's mostly just a primer on Markdown and HTML, but there is some custom stuff I wrote for embedding 3rd party widgets (YouTube, etc...).
If you don't know what Markdown is, it's just a simple standard for formatting text. You can't really do a whole lot with it (you can't center text, for instance), but it basically gets the job done and so is fairly popular on the kind of nerdy programmer websites I go to. If you already know HTML then you can use that instead if you want. For me, Markdown was a huge shortcut to getting this site working because I didn't have to write all my own formatting code or a wysiwyg text-editing widget.
The main thing left to do for the MVP is to implement SSL (which encrypts site traffic), and besides that there are 6 or 7 smaller things you probably won't notice. Oh yeah, and I still need to make the search box work, but since there aren't all that many projects yet it has been a low priority.
Thanks a lot to everyone who has checked out the site so far!