Ben’s super exciting stats upgrades!
I joke... they are not that exciting :)
Every 3 weeks, I share my notes on building Shepherd.com.
I believe that books build better people. I am on a mission to help readers explore & discover books in new and unique ways. I want to create the magical feeling you get wandering around your favorite bookstore but for the online world. And I want to do this while helping authors to expose their stories, personalities, and books.
Three hurrahs for our 596 Founding Members who keep us independent and fund new features. My 2024 goal is to reach 1,000 members to fully fund our part-time developer and designer so we can keep building great new features for our community.
Mood check for February 9th 🤪
I got sick and was out of it for 7 days. It has been a rough start to the year as I got sick in early January and again in late January.
Ben’s super exciting stats upgrades!
I am 75% done with a massive revamp of Shepherd’s stats. I’ve broken out each section of the website to measure engagement with readers better.
How does this help Ben make good decisions?
As I roll out improvements to the different sections of the website, this allows me to measure how well the improved version works (and make sure it has a positive impact).
For example, I wanted to improve how we show off author” lists in our “Recommended Book Recommendation List Block” around the website.
My theory was that by showing book covers and the author’s face, we could increase interest in this section.
Here is what we rolled out to test this assumption:
It increased clicks to this section by 50%. Big win!
Where will these stats help me in 2024?
Improving the bookshelf pages (especially around reader intent).
Improving the books-like pages (to ensure the improvements improve the accuracy of results).
Testing some assumptions around what readers prefer from a book listing format on those pages.
How does this impact what I build next?
The stats will help me understand how readers use the website, where we are doing well, and where we are not doing well. Along with video interviews with random users, you can get a pretty clear picture of how they use the website.
Once I get these in place, I plan to do a deep dive through the features I am considering building in 2024 and ensure the stats back up my assumptions.
And then I can start figuring out what is next…
What else am I working on?
I updated 50% of our team’s internal systems. The old system was about to stop working, and I finally had a breakthrough in how I could improve the new one. It is boring, but it keeps us running every day :). I plan to convert everything else tomorrow. I will spend a good chunk of the next 3 months revamping all our internal processes. I want to improve our efficiency and reinvent some of our processes.
I’ve been training our new editor. She is doing great, and I’ll introduce her soon!
I am having a surreal moment with Libro.fm… I just rolled out support for them in January as I wanted to promote someone other than Audible who had a good rep. I found out this last week they killed all my links to them and were giving readers “forbidden access” errors. They didn’t tell me they did this… and said my links were causing bots to attack them. That doesn’t make sense and I don’t know if they just don’t have any good devs or what? They are not providing a technical reason and do not seem to know what they are doing. It is really weird. I am probably going to have to stop promoting them as they don’t seem very interested in finding a solution or working with me. If you are ever wondering why Amazon is so huge, it is because of stuff like this.
What is going on outside of Shepherd?
Being sick, resting, going stir-crazy, reading, and all that fun stuff. The one week I was sick, we had 70-degree weather, and now that I am well, it is cold and rainy. Booooooooo!!!! Much more of this and my bike is going to run away without me.
What am I reading?
M: Son of the Century - About Mussolini. I am ~30% done, and I understand 5000% less about Italian history. I’ve read several history books about Italy in the last few years, and somehow, I feel I know less than what I began. What a beguiling place. How is this a country???? So far, it seems like Italy would make more sense as 50 city-states that run individually along with a federal government providing all the “insurances” that nation stats provide.
The Year of the Locust by Terry Hayes! He wrote “I am Pilgrim” last year, and it was one of my favorite reads in 2023. The new book is stunning, as good as the first one, and I look forward to finishing it shortly.
P.S. I am missing summer. This is a picture from a ride my son and I did in France last summer.
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