Trimming the Fat

I get my monthly webstats on the 15th of every month. Although I’m not as obsessed with the numbers as I once was, I do admit to getting a little service whenever I log in and go to the stats page. And this month, I just sort of stared at numbers with my jaw on the ground.

Last month saw one of the biggest spikes ever in the number of unique visitors to the site. In fact, the spike was so big that I’m almost tempted to go over to my sysadmin and ask him to make sure there’s not hiccup in one of the algorithms, or that someone didn’t spill some coffee on the server and screw things up.

As cool as it is to see the amount of people who stop by this little ol’ site every month, it is also very humbling and intimidating. It also means that, with the site hitting these sorts of numbers consistently, some things are going to have to change around here.

I’ve been very, very fortunate in that it doesn’t me a single penny to actually host Opus. The company I work for, Digital IMS, has been very gracious with their bandwidth and server space, allowing me to abuse my employee privileges and put up pretty much anything I want, and as much of it as I want.

However, this site has become a bit of a resource hog, much moreso than I ever intended, using at least 8GB of bandwidth every month (with one file in particular being responsible for 1.5 of those gigs). And that’s not at all surprising, considering all of the photos, MP3s, and videos that are strewn all over this beastie. However, that’s all going to change.

Out of respect for Digital IMS, who has been very supportive of the site, I will be removing quite a bit of the multimedia content from this site. In other words, no more MP3 clips for the music reviews and no more concert videos in the Gallery.

However, I have other reasons for wanting to do this besides helping out my workplace. Simply put, Opus has grown out of control, too big for its britches, etc. There are a number of pages on the site that really serve no purpose, or have not been updated in so long that they’re essentially useless. In the past, this didn’t really matter. However, a number of changes in recent months have caused me to reevaluate the site as a whole, and the conclusion I’ve come to is that the site I began 6 or 7 years ago is no longer the best site it could be.

Back when I started Opus, I wanted it to be more of a webzine like Pitchfork or Splendid, and for several years it came pretty close. However, over time, the site is evolved into something that can’t ever quite decide if it’s a blog, a webzine, or something inbetween. For example, the blog has become increasingly integral to the site, but the site structure doesn’t reflect that, nor can it given its present incarnation. The way I interact with the site, the way I update it, the way I work with it is, in some ways, at odds with the very structure of the site, and that makes it rather frustrating (not to mention needlessly complicated, interface-wise).

And so, the site is going to undergo a bit of a trimming process, a restructuring and reorganization in the next couple of months. What the end result will be, I don’t know for sure. However, there will almost certainly be some noticeable differences between the Opus that currently exists and the Opus that is to come. But I have to start somewhere, and one of the easiest ways is by simply trimming away a lot of the excess fat — i.e. the MP3 clips and videos.

This does not mean that multimedia content will never get posted on Opus ever again. The HiFi section will remain untouched, as it’s become pretty integral to the site, and is actually one of the most rewarding aspects of the site for me. And I can assure you that, from time to time, a cool video (be it from a concert or somewhere else) will probably get posted on Opus from time to time. However, losing a lot of this dross will hopefully make the site, which has grown pretty chunky over the years, leaner and meaner.

When all is said and done, and all of the dust has settled, I hope the site will be even better, for both you and for me. Hopefully, you won’t see a slide in the quality of content on the site, and hopefully it will be even easier for me to manage and update the site with high-quality (or at least halfway decent) content.