Finally! MYGERMANSHEPHERD.ORG got a new web design and layout, and tons of helpful features! Professional, intuitive, ergonomic, helpful. Summarized below:
- SSL Encryption
- Facebook Page
- Comment Subscriptions and Email Comments(!) and Facebook Comments
- Follow and Share buttons
- Donation Call-to-Action
- Your Personal Notebook
- Enforced Social Share
- The best FIND (don't search) that "free" allows
- Dog Community Photo Albums
- Website Speed Optimization
- Instant Comments through Ajax
- Social Login for Commenting
- Sharing pictures now
We've been working on these improvements for four months now (edit: and that was only for 1 to 5!), at times day and night (4 hrs sleep). Most improvements need no explanation. A few do, for example what I can think of right now:
MYGERMANSHEPHERD.ORG now has a security certificate, and all traffic between you and this website gets encrypted before it is sent. This is called SSL, and you see it in your browser address line as https, instead of http.
SSL (Secure Socket Layer) is the standard security technology for establishing an encrypted connection between a web server and a browser. This encrypted connection ensures that all data transferred between web server and browser, and between browser and web server, remains private and integral in order to prevent eavesdropping and tampering. In a nutshell, SSL is the standard that defines how web connections get encrypted via HTTPS. It's the best way to protect user data and defend against identity theft.
In addition, MYGERMANSHEPHERD.ORG now also uses security headers in all browser requests returned:
We trust you appreciate major improvements like this. So you see, we've got green lights for everything. But how good is our green? Well, MYGERMANSHEPHERD.ORG apparently is now safer than BIG Amazon, see the photo story here.
MYGERMANSHEPHERD.ORG has always written clearly which link "opens in new window/tab" (as opposed to links that open in the same window/tab). Namely links where we believe you will appreciate not to lose the flow of reading on the page you are currently on. However, these days most mobile devices won't yet show you this "hover text" (also called "title text") - which, for your convenience, we've always been using extensively to give you further insight when you hover the cursor/finger over certain words. No ads, like others do, here pure information for further insight.
So now the new site design highlights "opens in new window/tab" links even clearer by
- showing you this: Expert Interviews with Reviews for links that will open a new window/tab
- and showing you this: Expert Interviews with Reviews for links that open in the same window/tab.
Related (links): If you wonder "Where are all the flags gone?" - Before, everyone was seeing the same flags, namely all flags. But now we've improved on this as well because, other than making everyone see how interconnected the world is (! certainly for the German Shepherd Dog), being in the USA there rarely is a point in getting the choice to buy an item say from Germany. Being in Canada there rarely is a point in getting the choice to buy an item say from France. You get the picture.
So, now if you visit us with an IP address from the USA then you won't see any flags at all - which however means that you no longer get the choice to buy dog items from other locales. If you visit us with an IP address from the UK then you get to see (only) the UK flag linked to amazon.co.uk. If you visit us with an IP address from India then you get to see (only) the INDIA flag linked to amazon.in. And so forth. You get the picture.
For our international visitors, the standard link to items at amazon.com will always remain visible (right before your country flag) so that you can still see the features of the recommended item. Frankly because often the same item will not be available in your locale, and so only if you first looked at the features of the recommended item (amazon.com has the best choice of dog products), you are able to choose the best alternative in your country. Many of our visitors have thanked us for this always-aiming-to-be-helpful approach. Whether you are thankful we shall see.
MYGERMANSHEPHERD.ORG - finally! - has a Facebook page (our third or fourth attempt, I lost count). And this time it's very different: GSD Lover and Periodical subscriber Krystal has created our facebook page and she's taking care of it: mygsd.org! Applause for Krystal from everyone: Three cheers for Krystal, yeah!
Krystal's secret (only for us here, don't tell anyone else yet): Krystal will soon have her own German Shepherd Dog website! And together we are stronger! Speaking of together: Krystal is also helping with things beyond facebook - and she is so fast that I can't keep up! Seems, new times lie ahead for MYGERMANSHEPHERD.ORG - and thus for you.
Comment Subscriptions and Email Comments(!) and Facebook Comments
Long awaited, now you can comment away ... by simply being logged into facebook (or Google Plus too if you want that?). AND: MYGERMANSHEPHERD.ORG now even offers you comments by email! Here's how it works:
- Simply subscribe to an article or Periodical at the end of it. Even if you have nothing to say at that time, on MYGERMANSHEPHERD.ORG you can subscribe without commenting.
- Now you'll be notified by email of the type of comments you subscribed to.
- And you can simply hit the email's reply button to add your own comment!
- Again, no need to visit the site and find the place where to comment, log in etc, like on other sites. Here, you simply hit the email's reply button to add your own comment.
This is an exceptional convenience feature. As no one here is using it yet though, let me give you an example to show the convenience:
- Say you just read our life-saving(!) Periodical on Vaccinations and you'd love to see (and maybe later participate in) a discussion on that topic.
- So now you subscribe at the end of it where the comments start. No need to comment yourself in order to subscribe, here anyone can subscribe.
- Going forward you will receive an email notification when there's new discussion (until you UNsubscribe from it)
- and you can simply hit the email's reply button to add your own comment!
It can't get easier than this to stay abreast of what interests you. And only what interests you. No information overflow here. Cool, eh?
So start using it, subscribe at the end of whatever interests you.
Follow and Share buttons
Have you noticed? MYGERMANSHEPHERD.ORG now has cute Follow and Share buttons on the left and at the top. Lovely Krystal (managing the new facebook page, see 3 above, and for now twitter too) explained the difference to me, but I have forgotten. Somehow the buttons on the left are different from those at the top. Cute are both sets, I knew you would say that. Anyway, Krystal says you and other site visitors know the difference, and when to click which button. Well, that's enough then! Happily click away. Share your experience, your opinion, your dreams, and even your pants.
Finally, after so many years(!), we've been able to program a mega-smart donation box for you. Surely you've been desperately awaiting this one.
Our donation box is 100% SAFE TO USE, see item 1 above: SSL Encryption and green lights from the testing lab. Not only that: OUR donation box even knows your preferred currency, and in many cases will be able to prefill your email address - and this is all that's needed for your donation. No time waste! Now that's magic.
Surprisingly, no one has donated yet, not even a penny. Please appreciate that this site cannot survive on posted dog HELP! requests. Who's gonna pay the bills to keep everything running, and to help YOU tomorrow when you request help? Believe it or not, you will feel better when you give back a bit, finally. You are a good person. You mean well for others. Like we do for you and for your dog.
Very much related to the above: To help this site to survive, we need ads. Advertisements, yes. And many, because so very very few people give back and pay forward a bit of what they are getting, see item 6 above.
If you as the site user only consciously take in the information that MYGERMANSHEPHERD.ORG offer, then you know that our uniquely helpful information instantly saves you THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS in vet and trainer cost. And yet too many of our users stubbornly resist the donation call-to-action. Hence why sadly, we need ads. Many, many ads.
As site member, and even as mere commenter (whether free Periodical subscriber or not), your gravatar (globally recognized avatar) has always been displayed next to your username. That is, if you have a gravatar; very few of our audience have a gravatar, after all dog owners rarely are geeks. If you don't have a gravatar, nothing was displayed next to your username, but now you see a greeting-puppy avatar as default.
Further, every site member and every commenter now got an additional avatar that is specific to your usage of MYGERMANSHEPHERD.ORG. Each of these additional avatars clearly depicts how committed you are to benefit your dog:
Site-specific avatar of mosquitoes: exactly 1 comment, typically a Help! request
"I am a passing parasite: I pierce dogs and people, I suck their life blood, and I leave diseases behind. And so here I am to post ONE comment, and I request that you HELP ME! Yet, I won't come back to follow up on the solution that you have kindly already provided to solve my problem."
Dude, you cannot read eh? Even before you can submit your question you are shown clear instructions, one of which is: "Be polite, introduce yourself with what you found, not a help request". As nonprofit, we have no life blood left that you can suck. Imagine you have guests at home, and the first thing they say is: "I want your car, your house keys, and the cash under your mattress. Give me everything you have, NOW!" - How would you react?
I bet you'd kick their ass. And yet we don't, My German Shepherd only shows them his: What would this world be without humor, right?
Site-specific avatar of newbies: more than 1 comment
"I am a repeat visitor. I may have read a bit here, or may not. You offer here solutions to so many problems that I am lost."
Site-specific avatar of frequent visitors: more than 9 comments
"I have found here at least 9 solutions for what were my problems, or would have been my problems otherwise. Of course in every instance I have commented and shared my experience here to benefit others. Yet there is so much more to find here, and so I am still sniffing around."
That's good. Follow along to benefit your dog.
Site-specific avatar of permanents: more than 49 comments
"I realized I have arrived where I need to be, and so I gladly settled down here."
You are a long-term Periodical subscriber, fine. A German Shepherd deserves a mature owner.
Site-specific avatar of supporting site members and engaged commenters: more than 99 comments
"I open all your emails and I can READ. I also know how to use search and how to apply your posted solutions to my dog. I share my own experience here with others. I am the best parent to my dog, and my dog deserves only the best, hence why I am here."
Right. And that's why My German Shepherd gives you "high-five"!
Like the gravatar and any other avatar you may have elsewhere, your avatar is visible to everyone, and here you can change it easily by doing more for your dog.
Find out more: Click to save vet cost, training cost, and your nerves!
Your Personal Notebook
The newest helpful feature is what we can call your personal notebook! I LOVE this one, and you may too: How often is it that we read something somewhere, and we'd love to note it down quickly to remind us later, or to tell a friend or colleague or relative. But we don't have a pen with us, and we can't waste time handwriting or typing it out, right?
Well, THIS IS FOR YOU: Simply highlight your favorite text like you would normally when you want to copy something. Unless your browser prevents it, immediately four buttons will pop up and with one click you can send the selected text to your own twitter or facebook or google+ or linkedin account.
So now you can keep any worthy text for later to remind yourself or others! Because, you may not remember: Within just one day we forget 85% of what we've read. But now you can remind yourself by taking notes without even taking notes!
EDIT: FOR NOW RETIRED. Until the author makes a slim code version: This one convenient feature alone loaded so many scripts and css that it slowed down the site too much! We had no choice but to retire this brilliant thing.
The call-to-action SOCIAL SHARE box
For years you were used to seeing inmidst a Periodical an invitation to SHARE with your circle what we share with you! It looked like this:
For now that is gone but may be back if too few of you share what we share with you? And that, although you now even have new social share buttons at fixed positions on the left and at the top of the screen. Have you noticed?
As you will know, items that are permanently in the same place the human eyes soon overlook. Thus the new fixed-position social share icons will not be used as much, that's clear. Similar to what's called "banner blindness".
However if you continue to share content helpful to your circle of dog owners like we share the helpful content with you, then there would be no longer a need for the social share call-to-action inmidst the Periodicals. Okay?
EDIT: The CTA Social Share is back, finally: For THREE YEARS my hope dominated wisdom, but no one shared voluntarily what we voluntarily share with you. Accordingly Google sees NO ENGAGEMENT on this site and hence dropped us from all search rankings! I feel that this is the cause of most of the disaster situation that I got myself into. - No more!
The best FIND (don't search) that "free" allows
Any conscious user realizes that MYGERMANSHEPHERD.ORG is more helpful than any other dog site on the net. In line with this constant ambition even our site "search" just became the crème de la crème: Here you FIND what you are looking for, elsewhere you have to search and often find nothing much.
Like with everything in life however, it helps to understand how to use FIND effectively. If you didn't click the link now to find out, note that you can always click the small "i" (info) icon right next to the FIND BOX at the top of any page. It links to the document that explains how to FIND what you are looking for.
Despite good reasons not to, we now even allow to FIND our much praised MYGERMANSHEPHERD PERIODICAL content. So, Periodical results should now be included as well when you want to FIND something?
Dog Community Photo Albums
Our youngest feature addition! Added end of 2017. Now ALL MYGERMANSHEPHERD.ORG dogs can get to know each other... once their owners, once you share a photo of your dog. Check this out
EDIT: Retired. The uptake of the personal dog photo albums was so small, it doesn't justify this truly HUGE plugin: It cost so much bandwidth, and made the site so slow, and has so many bugs that require my constant attention... that I am outright happy that I was finally able to replace it with the lean, clean, simple comment photo feature that you see below under 16.
Website Speed Optimization
The SEO insiders among you will know that since March 2017 Google prioritizes website load speed over everything else: Content quality no longer matters much at all to Google! Google is now all hip on mobile users, and so load speed means everything to Google.
To prevent difficulty for dog owners to find the without doubt BEST dog content on the web (read disappearing into nowhere in search results) we had to make drastic changes to the website as a whole, including its hosting. The key points:
Our elaborate site menu that you can still admire in the first screenshot at the top ... is gone. This alone saved 80,896 characters (79kb) that no longer need to be transmitted to your tiny mobile device in case you use a phone to access the web. So detailed and thus big our former menu was, indeed!
Our new single dropdown menu is more accessible to the tiny mobile device screens used by so many today, and it's only 872 characters to transmit. So this menu loads like the speed of light. The con: You now have to make several clicks to drill down to the topic you need.
MYGERMANSHEPHERD.ORG too is now using the Cloudflare CDN to serve all static content from the Cloudflare server nearest to you.
All content you can access from our website is now cached, and even three times:
- on the server of our hoster
- and on every server at the "edge locations" of the Cloudflare CDN
- and finally in your browser too
Meaning, unless you log in as supporting site member you will be served somewhat stale content. Enjoy!
You may already have noticed: Minification never works 100%. When something doesn't look right, it's because the automatic minification at the CDN or at our server worked too well (minnnified too much).
We took comments out since most of you haven't commented anyway. All comments (fakebook's too), including your gravatar if you have one, will now only load on click. This saves dramatically in page load time!
In fact, I decided to even load certain items only together with the comments, ie after you clicked, because Google & Co evaluate initial page load time, and so this we need to make as fast as possible.
How about transmitting a brief excerpt first? Or even a blank page?
We got rid of all(?) things that cost bandwidth but give little benefit. Example: the ueber wasteful "Super Socializer" plugin is gone. That alone had cost seconds to load!
In addition, we will get rid of every functionality that you or I feel we don't really want or need, okay?
Want to be sure we keep something close to your heart? Make sure you mention it in your comment below.Remember, now you need to click first.
Want that we get rid of something you dislike? Mention it too. Because likely, you will be the only one raising your dismay here.
Your device will now initially load ONLY what it needs to let you start consuming our content instantly. Then while you are already immersed in our exciting quality information ... your device will load the remainder of the page, including all css and scripts not needed initially. Ingenious, yes thanks, I am still gobsmacked we figured that out.
MYGERMANSHEPHERD.ORG should now be completely responsive to display nicely even on the tiniest device screen you may be using: Both images and text should resize nicely according to your screen size!
Where it doesn't please let us know with one click.
Oh, and did you notice? The audio snippets are back (no worries, they cost zero bandwidth until clicked)! The note "Free play requests exhausted, who can pay for that?" is gone. How comes?
Well, unfortunately Amazon's streaming service still is cost prohibitive for free subscribers to benefit, but: I found a way to play the audios locally from our own server.
Let's see if the server can cope when several users click to play at the same time...?
Instant Comments through Ajax
The name Ajax always reminds me of the highly effective cleaner that is loved by so many families...
In our modern times of the world wide web however Ajax lets you as the web user communicate instantly with the web server that serves the page you visit! No waiting for a page refresh, because there is none. Only the bit that you do, or wish to know, is being exchanged between the two of you. Right on the current page you're seeing.
With a lucky stroke (very rare for me) I managed to implement this exciting technology in just ... two days. Another two days of my short life!
So now, don't sit around and wait for things to happen when you comment: they have already happened, your comment got already posted!
Obviously this won't work when you're deep down in the subway (and I don't mean the fast food restaurant here), nothing on the web will. To communicate, there must be a connection after all. If your mobile internet connection is good, you will now be delighted how fast your dog site MYGERMANSHEPHERD.ORG accepts your comment, be it your opinion or your experience!
Social Login for Commenting
We have now implemented social login for commenting: You no longer need to fill in Name and Email fields in order to post your comment, your social login allows you to comment. And if you are already logged in, say with Google (likely), then you may start typing right away like you would start speaking!
To avoid appearing like a spammer, just make sure that
- either you are logged in as supporting site member (convenient: you can stay logged in)
- or you are logged in at your social network in the same browser. In this case you won't see any confirmation: Name and Email fields stay empty: See the screenshots above and below.
Speaking of spammers: As it is so easy to obtain a "social account" - as compared to how hard it is to obtain a site account here - SPAM has increased instantly.
Wondering why you don't see here any SPAM though, ever?? Because back in 2011 I created the world's best spam protection technique, I dare say.
You see proof every time you visit: nothing smelling like spam ever gets posted here. And when the spam and trash vaults fill up, they clear automatically. I don't even look at a single spam message myself.
Sharing pictures now
Wow, check this out:
I LOVE this one! So much easier to use than the prior Photo Albums under 12 above. And the code of this is so lean and clean I don't have to troubleshoot issues all the time.
We can change details later if you want, but for now we have the following settings:
- max image file size: 3MB (which is HUGE on the web)
- file format: jpg, png, or gif
- one image per upload
- max display size later with the comment: 900px wide (proportionate height)
- photo will be automatically downsized if necessary
- photo will be automatically optimized for web display to reduce file size and bandwidth
- photo will be displayed below any text you write
What's this new feature for? Anything really:
- showing off your dog?
- showing what your dog health issue is?
- your dog training success? Or failure? Or plain oddity?
- your competition trophy?
- what you cook?
- the dog's meal?
- your feeding routine?
- your family? Or your heartthrob??
- dog play?
- dog socializing in the park?
- dog video stunts?
- living quarters?
- you name it!
The impetus for another new coding attempt of mine... with a lot of effort... gave Laura's comment where I needed to see what she means. And this time my coding attempt finally succeeded.
Enjoy this newest convenience!
Those are the things that seem worth pointing out. You like it??
If not, remember the footnote on every page: If you are unhappy with anything, we want to be the first to know, thanks.