Renamed Blog, Refreshed Design

Attending WordCamp always gets me thinking about ways to improve my website. With Tuesday’s release of WordPress 4.7, I decided it was time to apply a fresh lick of paint to the site. And here you have it — cleaner, darker… classier. And it looks good on mobile, too! I keep finding little things to tweak, but have a look around and tell me what you think!

I’m also excited to reveal a new and shorter web address for the blog: watchadam.blog. That’s right — no www, no dot-com. Isn’t that easy to remember? (Don’t worry, adambenderwrites.com will still get you here!)

Just for fun, here’s a list of names that I’ve called my website over the years:

  1. Adam Bender’s Cool Stuff – I’m not entirely sure, but I think this was the name of the pointless website I made as a kid in the ’90s on Angelfire, which was a free website making tool. It had a hits counter. ‘Nuff said.
  2. Adam Bender Interactive – During high school, I got into game development pretty hard with Klik & Play (and later iterations of Clickteam software). Anyway, my “company” was called AB Interactive.
  3. Stridersoft – I later found people to make games with me (but I don’t think we ever actually released anything as a team). A guy on the team pitched this name and I thought it sounded cool. Didn’t realize it was a Lord of the Rings reference at the time.
  4. Faded Wave – Once I figured out the game dev team thing wasn’t working out, the site became Faded Wave, which also sounded cool, but refreshingly wasn’t a LOTR reference. I started talking about all my projects, including a little novel called We, The Watched.
  5. Adam Bender Writes… – The most recent iteration. The idea really was to bring my name back into it, because people were all like, “Faded Wave? Is that a hair style for balding men?” NO! IT’S NOT!

Anyway, hope you enjoy the new look!

Democratization Can Be Dark… And Other Lessons from WordCamp US

WordCamp Badge

Among other things, I am a blogger. This thing that you’re reading right now is in fact a blog post…on a real-life blog! Mind blown, right?

To create this mind-blowing blog, I use WordPress, free and easy-to-use software that powers about a quarter of the websites online. WordPress has a great community that gets together all over the world. Last year, I attended and wrote about their first annual U.S. conference, WordCamp US, in my hometown of Philadelphia. WordCamp US was back in Philly this year, attracting about 1,800 attendees and a gang of dinosaurs to the party.

#WCUS Party Crasher Rex
#WCUS Party Crasher Rex at the wordcamp after party

WordCamp was a blast, obviously. I only got to attend the second day (Day 1 was Friday and would have interfered with my day job), but I listened to a few great talks.

Dennis Hong did a hilarious and yet scary (hil-scare-ious?) talk on the dark side of democratization. The idea is that while the internet has enabled anyone to publish, this may not always be a good thing. The sheer amount of content now produced promotes skimming over thoughtful reading, he said. Also, thoughtful, well-reasoned analysis often loses out to cat pictures and emotion-based pieces that get us all riled up — and may not even be true.

While there are no easy answers, Dennis had some advice to make the internet a more friendly place. When something online angers you, take a deep breath before you share it to your friends. Be stoic like Yoda, he said, and decide if it’s worth sharing — because all you’re doing is helping the video go viral. If someone is being ridiculous online, don’t engage in a shouting match. It’s better to be patient, empathetic and take the conversation offline. If you’re creating content, it’s okay to grab a reader’s attention with a flashy headline, but make sure the content that follows is thoughtful and accurate. You can read more about all this on Dennis’s website.

I also learned a bunch of interesting facts from Maile Ohye from Google. Did you know that 65% of India — or about 864 million people — are not yet online? That’s a lot of people still to join the internet! Not only that, but 60% of the world’s traffic is still 2G. It’s important to keep these facts in mind when building a website, Maile said. Also, here’s something to look forward to next year — she said Google will be demoting mobile website that display pop-up ads blocking your view of the content! Woo! Those sites are way annoying!

Which brings me to another fun fact from Maile — 53% of visitors abandon mobile sites that take more than three seconds to load. Sounds a little impatient, but thinking about my own behavior I probably do this as well. I guess with all that democratization of content, we just don’t have time to wait around.

For more possible dark directions for society, read my novels We, The Watched and Divided We Fall.

Fresh website design!

I took this selfie just before seeing the new Avengers movie. It was awesome.
I took this selfie just before seeing the new Avengers movie. Guys, It was so awesome.

You may have noticed the site looks different. I mean, assuming you’ve been here before. If this is your first time on my website, that’s cool, but–hey don’t click away! Ok, click away, but at least check out one of my novels or something!

Still with me? Cool, so I’ll point a few things about the new design. First off, it’s way more modern in appearance, and the responsive design means it looks great on mobile devices, too.

It’s also a little less “bloggy.” I used to have a separate website and WordPress blog, but a little while ago decided they were a bit redundant and it made sense to kill the increasingly dated-looking website. The only problem with that approach was that my old blog design didn’t quite give me the flexibility to highlight news about my writing, and it felt a bit plain for presenting my novels.

This brings me to the next thing, which is that I’ve also killed the individual book websites I had up at wethewatched.com and wethedivided.com. Those links still work, but now they redirect to pages on this website. As much as I loved those old sites (heck, I designed them myself!), they were only kind of, sort of responsive design. I really tried, but they never actually looked that good on phones or tablets. I lived in denial about this until Google itself told me so.

I'm happy to report that Google has come around to liking my website.
I’m happy to report that Google has come around to liking my website.

So there you have it. Brand new web design. I think I’ve transferred over all the great stuff about my old websites, and I’ve even brought back some stuff like web samples of my novels WE, THE WATCHED and DIVIDED WE FALL. There’s also some new stuff coming soon and maybe a few more design tweaks.

Please let me know if you notice anything missing or if something just plain doesn’t look right!

Yes, yes. You’re welcome, eyes.

-Adam