Gwulo in 2015
It's time for a quick review of last year, and a look forward to the plans for 2015.
Before that let me say thank you for reading Gwulo over the last twelve months, offer special thanks to everyone who has contributed to the website, and send best wishes to you for the year ahead.
How did last year's plans turn out?
- Upgrade the website software. After saying it would be upgraded in 2012 and 2013, I finally managed to get the upgrade done in 2014. It took more work than I expected, but I'm pleased with the results - the upgraded website works better on smartphones and tablets, it is easier to handle photos, and it opens the door to further enhancements.
Other highlights for 2014 include:
- In this year's SCMP Spirit of Hong Kong Awards, they gave me the Heritage Preservation Award for the work I've done on Gwulo .
- As well as all the contributions and conversations on the website, there have been enjoyable meetings in person, and several generous donations of photos and other material have arrived in the mail.
2014 had a lowlight when the site was hacked. Luckily there was no serious damage done, so we got off very lightly compared with some of the other sites that were attacked at the same time .
Here is how our work over the year looks in numbers:
|Pages on website||2014||2013||2012||2011||2010|
|Jurors Lists (years)||31||29||27||19||11|
And here's who is reading them, either by subscription:
|Wartime Diaries subscribers|
|73 yeas ago||100|
|72 years ago||97||109|
|71 years ago||88||88||81|
|70 years ago||42||44||37|
Or by visiting the website:
|Website traffic (thousands)||2014||2013||2012||2011||2010|
You'll see that the number of people visiting the website has dropped considerably. Why is that?
I can think of a couple of reasons. First, the number of good websites / blogs / Facebook pages about Hong Kong's history continues to grow. Some of the people who used to visit Gwulo may now visit these other sites.
Next, I see that most of the drop in traffic to Gwulo happened in the second half of the year, and the missing visitors are people that Google search used to send to Gwulo. The drop started around the same time the upgrade started. That is to be expected - no new content was posted for several weeks, so Gwulo dropped down the Google rankings.
Then it dropped even more when I did something daft... I thought I'd found a way to automatically block spammers from visiting the website. But I also blocked Google's spiders, so anyone searching for old Hong Kong on Google no longer saw Gwulo listed in the results. Ooops. After fixing that, traffic from Google is increasing again, but is still well below pre-Ooops levels. I expect it will get back to normal over the next month or two.
Despite the drop in website visitors, the amount of information on Gwulo continues to grow steadily, as does the number of people who subscribe to it. My main measure for the site is the amount of interesting content we add each year, so 2014 was a good year!
There is still some tidying up to be done after the upgrade. I'll work through that in the coming months.
Another job is to make a third illustrated talk to add to the two I already have. The style of the new talk will be very similar to the earlier two, but with a new set of photographs. These photos will use the sea around Hong Kong as their common theme.
Finally, I want to expand Gwulo's features this year. Here are my ideas:
- Add new types of page. We currently have pages for Person, Place, etc. I've thought of two possible additions:
- Organisation. This could be a business (eg CE Warren & Co. Ltd.), a school (eg KGV), or any other group of people (eg The Hong Kong Police Force).
- Route. A Place shows a single location, but a Route would show a path (eg a Boulder Trackway) or a road (eg Nathan Road).
- Add status to Places. That will let us record whether a Place is intact, in ruins, or demolished, similar to how we record whether a Person is living or deceased.
- Add dates to Place's title. We'll automatically add dates of completion and demolition to the Place's name, again copying from the way we automatically add dates of birth & death to a Person's name.
- Relationships. These will let us link pages together in a more formal way. The natural place to start is with the Person pages, eg Person A is child of Person B. Person C is spouse of Person D. etc. There are plenty of other possibilities, eg Person E appears in Photo F; Person G lived in Place H; etc.
I don't want to add features that no-one uses - that just makes the website harder to use and maintain - so I'm interested to hear from you: Which of these new features would you use? And are there other new features you'd like to see that are missing from this list?