Let's take a little trip down memory lane real quick revisit Scotch.io's humble backgrounds. Scotch.io started getting its first visitors back in October of 2013. Ever since then, it's been a side project for both Nick and I; writing what we're learning (struggling to learn) and more.
Thanks to you, our readers, we've gone from watching our traffic and getting excited about 1,000 users/day to jumping for joy seeing 50,000 users/day coming to read great articles from ourselves and the 50+guest writers that have helped contribute amazing articles.
Today, as we come up on two and a half years of Scotch, we are launching the 5th version of Scotch.io. The big 5.0. That's five versions in 2.5 years! We're not only delivering a new redesign for our site that we think will help content discovery and faster learning, but we're launching two other projects as well.
This article will be a look at a preview of things to come at Scotch with some insights as to what we're thinking, how we got to where we are, and where we want to go.
I'm wary to call this a redesign even though it is a from-the-ground-up change. This is a culmination of everything we've learned over the years and from all the feedback. We've come a long way from our humble beginnings...
That list doesn't even include the very first version. I can't find a copy of that site that was built on Expression Engine. All for the better probably. Sound off in the comments which was your favorite, if you had a preference.
We like to focus on bringing new features and experimenting with our designs so here's some of the big things you'll see in the new site.
Full Screen - Full Awesome Search
We're really happy with our new search. I'll be doing a tutorial on just how we built it using good old jQuery and Algolia. In the mean-time, just click up top and type away.
Real-time search for our articles. Searches are done by looking through the title, content, tags, and more. Algolia is a great service that offers lots of value. One of the cool things they offer is the analytics of what people are searching for. In the few weeks, this has been live, you can see what the most popular searches are:
Don't mind the build something search. That's the default search term when people land on our search page search.scotch.io.
What's also interesting is the searches that returned 0 hits. These we have no content for:
Not really sure how there were 24 searches for
organizational heirarchy chart, but maybe we should write an article on that.
Liking and Bookmarking
This is a feature that's been asked about a lot. If you create a Scotch account, you'll finally be able to like and bookmark posts.
On single article pages, they can be found in the fixed links (we call them page friends) on the left side of the article. Here you'll find all the familiar things like:
- article outline
- share buttons
- demo and code links
- like and bookmark links
It's the Little Things
In addition to those big features, you'll find a lot more polish around the site. We've cleaned up weird styling issues that were present on the previous site and added a lot more flare in the way of CSS transforms and animations.
Most everything else is pretty close to how it was. We were happy with how the site was performing, so we just sped it up and cleaned some things.
We focused on some specific analytics this time, the main one being time on page and bounce rate. Our time on page average was right around 2:30 and after the redesign, we're showing a 4:00 time on page.
We want people to enjoy the reading experience. When it comes down to it, the tutorial and learning the material are most important. We focused on removing distractions and simplifying the things that we needed to show. Code blocks are larger, images are larger, and fonts are cleaner.
Bounce rate has always been a bit high for my taste on our site. Maybe that can be attributed to 80% of our traffic comes from Google searches. When people find what they are looking for, they just get the info and leave the site. This could be a cause for our 79% bounce rate. Since the upgraded design, we are showing a 72% bounce rate.
This is one of the things I'd like to improve on more. Context is everything when browsing the web and I want to focus on providing links to related articles when appropriate. We used to do a shotgun approach of showing a bunch of popular posts or posts related by tags, but I want to move to showing relevant content at relevant times.
The Future of Scotch
The main things we've upgraded and changed are great and all, but the main focus I want to talk about is where we want to go in the future. The vision we have for Scotch is very important to us.
The mission moving forward is the same mission we've always had:
Provide the highest quality tutorials for learning how to code.
Over the years we've been getting so many requests for specific topics and more content, and we want to meet that demand. Sadly, since Scotch has only been a side project, we can't write as much as we'd like or cover as many topics as we'd like.
We opened up Scotch to guest posts since there are amazing writers amongst our readers; amazing writers that can offer awesome content and value to readers. What's most important is that a lot of readers can provide tutorials focusing on different technologies that we here at Scotch don't necessarily specialize in.
Even More Guest Authors
Many of you have come forth and gone through the process to get a guest post posted on Scotch. Thanks to our 50 guest authors, we've been able to publish 311 articles! We want to increase this and allow more guest authors to write compelling tutorials and posts.
Anyone that has been through our previous author system know that it wasn't the most streamlined process in the world. Moving forward we hope that the new setup will open the doors for more authors to get quality content published faster.
Growing the Community
Bringing in more guest authors and articles isn't enough though. We want to grow the community so that anybody that needs help with projects or code questions can have it. We opened up our Slack channel and now have a solid 2,812 users chatting on the daily about various things.
We'd love for you to join us on Slack and waste time while we're all supposed to be "working".
Our main goals moving forward are:
- More awesome content from more quality authors
- Streamline the author writing process
- Provide exposure for our guest authors
- Keep the quality top notch even though we're opening up the guest author process
- Make way for high quality course and video content
- Grow the community
With those goals in mind, we are launching a three-part approach to the future of Scotch.
- Scotch.io - High quality tutorials and posts
- The Pub - Community posts and writing tools to publish to Scotch
- Scotch School - Premium video courses and walkthroughs
Let's talk about The Pub and Scotch School. These are the next two parts that we'll be working on in addition to the Scotch.io that you know and love.
Community Posts on The Pub (pub.scotch.io)
With The Pub, we are introducing a place for users to:
- create community posts
- publish and get paid for quality posts to Scotch.io (based on approval)
With this streamlined approach, authors can write and submit their posts without waiting for us at Scotch to approve a topic, then an outline, and then a rough draft.
You'll be able to write and submit your article to be published on Scotch.io. Depending on the article (if it has a demo, code repo, code samples), you'll get paid for your content and get published in front of our 1.7MM+ monthly visitors.
You also have the ability to publish directly to The Pub and build up your writing portfolio there.
Write. Get views. Get paid.
We're opening up The Pub to anyone that wants to write on anything development related. If you've ever been interested in writing tech tutorials or on tech news, make a submission on The Pub.
The format of the topics we'd like to see are:
- Build a App with
- Create Your First _____ App
- Getting Started with _____
- What's New in _____ v5
- Top 10 _____
- Quick Tip: How to ____
The topics we'll accept are endless as there's an infinite amount of things to learn in the crazy world of development. We do lean towards posts that are more about building apps and carry code repos and demos.
Still High Quality: I want to make this very clear that we will be very strict with the quality of posts that we approve. Please don't think that this will diminish the quality you've come to expect here at Scotch. We will be personally going through each submitted post and approving only the ones we believe are worthy. This is very similar to our old process of applying to be a writer, but far more streamlined. Just write, click submit, and get published and paid.
Article Ideas: Stuck on what to write? We've created a Post Ideas to get you started. You can also see the approximate amount we're willing to pay for a post idea.
Here's our writing page. We are focused on creating the best experience in writing code tutorials. You can write in Markdown. Oembed is supported. Give it a whirl at https://pub.scotch.io/write.
The Pub will be how we publish articles to Scotch from now on and we hope that this helps to streamline our guest author process and that people will take to the writing tools we've created.
We're always looking to improve The Pub and our writing tools, so if you have any suggestions, don't hesitate to let us know.
Scotch School (school.scotch.io)
A lot of learning development is piecing tutorials together and still not finding the solution you want. We want to take our top shelf content a step further and provide you guys and gals with a single location for full courses on highly requested topics.
This means giving you all web development courses with written content, video screencasts, and source code for demo applications so you can learn multiple ways all in one spot.
We've been told that a lot of the articles we write stop short. They are good at encompassing how to use a specific language/technique/etc, but they don't really explain 100% of the things needed. This often includes:
- Setting up the development environment
- Showing examples of more use cases
- Showing more advanced examples
- Testing code
- Deploying to production
With the School, we are going to focus on full-featured walkthroughs, taking you from scratch to production level applications.
This is what we will achieve with Scotch School. Premium video courses that will be:
- Full courses from end-to-end
- Start from scratch and develop to a final app
- Full video
- Written tips
- Code repos
- Working demos
You'll be able to learn from guided walkthroughs, use the code in your own apps, and become a Jedi master.
Scotch School is the highest quality Scotch.io has to offer
We understand that there are other sites out there where you can get your code courses fix. Most of them will have more content than us while we're starting out. You've trusted us with written code tutorials, and we won't let you down with our video courses. They WILL be badass.
Coming Soon (aka Our Kickstarter)
Scotch School is currently being developed and is about 1.5 months away from launch. While we're in this coming soon stage, we're offering 30%+ discounts on memberships.
- 3 Months for $25 - 30% off
- 6 months for $45 - 40% off
- 1 Year for $70 - 50% off
For those that sign up now, know that you are greatly helping us focus on crafting the highest quality content we possibly can.
You are supporting Scotch directly and we appreciate you.
In addition to the above, we also have:
- Authenticate Angular 1.x Apps with Satellizer
- Build an App with React.js
- Build an App with the MEAN Stack
- and more
Those are just the courses that we're working on to be available at launch or shortly after launch. After that, we have much more planned and have an aggressive course launching schedule we will stick to.
We'll publish additional articles going into detail a bit more on these projects in the near future. We hope you like what you see and the direction we're moving.
Moving forward, we want to bring our readers more high quality content. Every story we hear about how we've helped a developer learn a topic, get a job, ace a test in school, and so many more motivates us even more.
We'll keep producing quality content and now we're going to provide the tools and compensation so that others can provide high quality tutorials as well.
Moving into video courses, we'd love for you to support us before the launch. It helps us gauge interest and motivates us to work harder.
We hope you enjoy the new site. Sound off in the comments if you have any feedback for us. Thanks for reading and being a part of the Scotch community.
Thanks for all the support from the Scotch.io team!