Weekly Indie Log #14


5 min read

This last week went by fast. With my focus much on SEO and delivering more value out of Stomod and AssistFlare.
The focus on shipping for the week was around Stomod. I intend to move my focus to AssistFlare in two weeks. Before I do that, in the two remaining weeks, I intend to make Stomod as near feature complete as possible.
What does this mean? I want to cover everything on my roadmap and slow down development work to just new feature requests and focus more on marketing - but marketing a “complete” product which actually has a very strong value proposition. So how did I do last week in terms of shipping?

Moving Away from Credit Card Upfront Free Trial

A couple of month back, I made the decision to move Stomod from a free trial without credit card to a free trial which required a credit card upfront to start.
The idea behind the move was to get more qualified leads of people who actually wanted to try out the product seriously and reduce the number of weak leads.
This turned out to be a bad idea as to where previously I was getting 1-2 trials per day, I got barely any trials weekly with the CC upfront method.
Visitors were reticent to put their CC upfront from what I've seen and don't even sign up for the trial.
The biggest disadvantage was that less people were signing up to use the product, I could not have them on my mailing list to try to re-activate those users with my product updates or promotions.
I also don't get feedback or insight into how new users are behaving with the product when trialling out the product.
This prompted me to shift back to having Stomod on a trial without CC flow and the ongoing free trials are nearly back to normal.

Product Improvements

Improved Search with Full-Text Search

Full-Text search in action
Full-Text search in action
Stomod blogs now include full-text search (FTS) using the search functionality available in all blogs. This moves away from the previously method which was less accurate and showed less relevant results.
With FTS, readers can uncover more relevant blog posts when searching using the search box.

Better Mobile Search UX

While the modal UI of the search worked well on desktops, it always felt a bit clunky on mobile phones as the keyboard would not interact well with the modal and cover it partially.
Mobile search UX
Mobile search UX
With me already working on the full-text search feature of the new search implementation, I decided to improve this part of the UX.
Now the search on mobile is a drawer which opens up when you search and from there you can easily view search results on this improved UX which I feel is more intuitive on a mobile screen.
With this implemented, it lays the foundations for related posts functionality which is on the roadmap.

Fixing Cover Image Aspect Ratios

Cover images were previously not following a strict aspect ratio when displaying, however this has now been fixed and cover images will conform to a 16:8 aspect ratio, with the image covering the intended area while maintaining aspect ratios.
This is especially useful when you have cover images with text similar to the one below.
Cover image with 16:8 aspect ratio
Cover image with 16:8 aspect ratio
While I was at it, I also included a light border around images so that images with white edges don’t blend into the background. However, you can easily override this with the Custom CSS feature in Stomod.

RSS feed with Atom Compliance

notion image
The RSS feed was previously failing the W3C Feed Compliance checks because it was missing some markup. This has now been fixed and to boot, the feed now is also Atom compliant for Atom feed readers.

Embedded Tweets Light Theme

Previously embedded tweets in posts would show up in dark mode, but now they will show up in light mode by default until dark mode lands in Stomod very soon and then it will be available in dark mode as well.
Here’s an example embedded tweet in light mode:

New Top Navbar

The top navbar on Stomod has been a cause of many headaches for me. While it is pretty easy to design a responsive navbar with static items, designing one for a blog platform where logo sizes differ and there are a variety of configuration option including mega menus, search, CTA buttons - it can be a little challenging.
The original implementation of the navbar had it’s challenges:
  • Logos were not displayed at the proper size on mobile devices (was smaller than intended)
  • Logo + site name display combination would not display properly
  • Mega menu would not wrap properly and caused the navbar to break visually
With the intention to put these issues behind once and for all, I sat down to implement a hyper responsive navbar taking concepts I had seen years ago online.
The new hyper responsive header menu for all Stomod blogs will show all menu items in the navbar but progressively wrap under the drawer menu as space decreases. The is showcased below:
New hyper responsive navbar for Stomod blogs
New hyper responsive navbar for Stomod blogs
With this new implementation, all edge cases are take care of and the menu is progressively responsive and should handle all cases and combination of configurations well.

Overall Blogs Analytics

Stomod Analytics, the analytics built into Stomod for all blogs show analytics at the blog level for each blog on their respective dashboards.
While this was great, if you have multiple blogs on Stomod, you couldn’t view a holistic view of how all of your blogs were performing.
This was resolved with the implementation of the overall analytics view on the Stomod admin landing page.
This is how it looks for an account with multiple blogs:
Stomod Analytics blogs overall stats
Stomod Analytics blogs overall stats
That’s about it for this week, catch you in the next one next week! 👋

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