In the days of Ninjalane I would post a thread in the forums about what new things I had planned for the coming year and figured it would be a good idea to continue the tradition. As some of the regular readers will attest 2013 has been a big year for Hardware Asylum. The site was in development for the greater part of 2013 until I officially flipped the switch in October.
While actually programming the 301 redirect from one domain to another was easy the planning process up to that point was not. Aside from the normal stuff like code upgrades and website design I knew that changing domain names would negatively impact web traffic. To help control the traffic drop I decided to draw a line in the sand and transfer all the reviews, podcasts and articles published from 2011 forward to the new domain. This left around 12 years of articles on the old site serving as an archive for future generations. Sadly “archive” is a fairly loose term given that google stopped indexing those pages several years ago but, it is the thought that counts.
My hope was that by losing some of the old articles the new site will get a clean SEO slate in hopes of getting better page ranking and usher in a new generation of hardware enthusiasts.
The first item on the list is the continuation of the [yet to be renamed] Podcast. There likely won’t be any format changes to the main show but there have been talks of expanding the format to include more “extras”. The Podcast is a monthly show that is released around the 10th of each month. This show is followed up by an “Extra” a couple weeks later that is basically an unedited segment that can cover just about anything from aimless ramblings to specific topics.
Of course the question now is, “What else can be done with an extra?” Well, right now we are experimenting with game streams where Darren and I will do the podcast while playing games. If end up using this format the show would be broadcast on Twitch.tv and then archived on YouTube. Sadly the only downside to this approach is that it branding the stream with the podcast music would be difficult and audio listeners of the podcast won't be able to view the video.
I am also looking into broadcasting the podcast recording session thru the Google+ page meaning that we'll have an actual recording schedule and let people see us screw up.
There are two things I realized when running Ninjalane. First, readers like it when they visit an enthusiast oriented website and see the writers actually do things typical of a PC hardware enthusiast. Second, original articles tend to garner more attention than a hardware review. These two things prompted me to expand what I wrote about including extreme level overclocking. At the same time I started a HWBot overclocking team and started taking a real interest in overclocking competitions.
I hope to continue this on Hardware Asylum with the hopes of expanding into PC modding and high-end gaming. Of course the biggest obstacle will be money and finding the time and support to cover such things.
With the launch of Hardware Asylum I made the decision to remove the typical “forum” and replace it with social media. Right now I am concentrating on Facebook and Google+ but will likely expand that in the future. Google+ is a joke but I have discovered that cross posting articles tends to help with search engine ranking so I’ll be sticking with it. Facebook is a necessary evil. On one hand you have an excellent delivery vehicle and when you're lucky can get massive 30minute bursts of traffic. (e.g. The typical lifetime of a Facebook post). On the other hand the reach of any single post is decided on by the Facebook advertisement algorithm combined with how many likes a page has and how engaged that community is. Typically that is about 15% of the total like pool not counting any grease you pay FB to “boost a post”.
Readers Rigs Section
Computer hardware enthusiasts love to show off their rigs and I’m planning to add a section to the website where members can upload photos and post some details of their builds.
Readers will be able to comment on the build and give it a thumbs up or thumbs down.
The biggest hurdle with the readers rigs section is that most sites just piggy back on a web forum but since Hardware Asylum is built on a custom CMS I’ll have to re-activate the members section and use that to handle authentication. Not a huge deal, just time consuming.
One of the biggest questions any hardware review site gets is “I want to build a system but don’t know where to start”. This question is why many sites post system building guides and price lists. My plan here is to revive a version of Upgrade Alley (an old website project of mine) where the editors will post a series of different computer builds each designed for a different purpose. For instance a popular build might be a budget system build using inexpensive components whereas something more interesting might be an LN2 benching rig designed for extreme cooling.
I feel that my plans for Hardware Asylum are extremely realistic and while the additions are not unique to any hardware review website the implementation, background and perspective will be. Collectively, the editorial staff has over 30 years experience doing computer hardware review so, things should get interesting.
As of this article Hardware Asylum has been live for almost 3 months and since then I have given away two custom computer cases (Level 10 GT and iVektor), posted some really exciting product reviews like the Z87 Classified and GTX 780 Ti Classified from EVGA and managed to slowly bring the traffic numbers back. My hope is that my planned activities will help cement what it is that Hardware Asylum does and also help the site grow.