catonmat pawI have been working on the new website for quite some time now and I have gathered a very long list ideas of what a modern website should have. They include ideas from psychology, search engine optimization, social media, programming, and the best web design practices.

Since I started to use github last week, all the new catonmat code will be there. I already created a catonmat repository and I am going to be pushing code there daily.

I love to share my ideas, so here are the first 50 of them. I am going to share more later in the upcoming article series "Designing the new together with me." You should subscribe to my blog here, if you are interested in this topic and haven't subscribed yet.

The ideas are in no particular order. If some of them seem fuzzy or unclear, please ask me to clarify in the comments.

1. 301 Redirect Table.

The idea is to maintain a table that will be checked against the request URLs. If the request URL is in the table, it gets redirected to a new destination URL with the 301 HTTP header, which forwards the link juice from one URL to another. This is necessary because some forums break URLs in multiple lines and the resulting clickable URL is 404. If I didn't do a 301 to the new location, this link would be lost. Anyone who clicked it, would end up on the 404 error page. Another example is if someone links to a mistyped URL. Anyone who clicks it ends up being unsatisfied, at 404 page. With a 301 table I can quickly fix these problems. Here is a concrete example: Someone links to when they wanted to link to www.catonmat/article. I'd simply insert an entry to 301 redirect /artikle to /article and everyone's happy.

2. 404 Error Log.

I absolutely have to know what pages trigger 404 errors so that I can fix them ASAP with the 301 redirect table. There may be many false alarms, therefore I have to add filters to the 404 error log to ignore some spammy patterns.

3. A Great 404 Page.

If someone ends up on a non-existing page, log it as described in #2 and then explain to the visitor why the page he visited was not found. Suggest him or her or it to view 5 latest post titles, or 5 most popular posts, or most popular downloads, or something else (still have to think about it when I implement it).

4. A Separate Trackback/Pingback/Linkback/Refback Page With Moderation.

Tracebacks are usually displayed among comments. This is very messy. There is no place for them among comments. The idea is to have them on a separate page like Also add bulk moderation as spammers love to exploit trackback. (Perhaps drop trackbacks altogether as they are of very little value.)

5. A Page With Last Comments.

Currently I am displaying only the 10 last comments on the right sidebar. This is insufficient. I want to see all the comments (like on a single page, so that even if I am away from computer for several days, I can easily navigate through them and reply/hide/edit/delete in-place. Perhaps add a RSS feed for comments page.

6. Comment Statistics.

I need to tell my blog readers who are the most active people on my website. This will stimulate people to be more active. Therefore I should add a comment statistics with most popular commentators, link to their pages without nofollow to give them link juice. Also add statistics of the most commented articles.

7. Add Incoming Search Term Statistics On All Pages.

When people come from Google or Yahoo, save the query they used and display it on the page. This way I will always know what terms were searched for on each of the pages, without having to write complex queries.

8. Add Download Statistics.

Currently I have sloppy download statistics. I want nice graphs and want to see the most popular downloads by day, month, etc. This should be written as a statistics framework as traffic statistics, article statistics, delicious statistics and download statistics will all have more or less same graphs.

9. Public Statistics Section For Bookmarks.

I want to see how often my posts get bookmarked on I also want nice graphs for them by day, week, month, etc. I also want a list of people who bookmarked my posts the most often, and tags they used. Make this public and also very modular so other people can reuse the code and put it on their sites. Reward the most frequent bookmarkers with links to their sites.

10. Insert Beautiful Images To Give Rest To Eyes.

Insert some beautiful landscape images after serveral paragraphs of text to give rest to eyes and give the reader positive emotions.

Flowers An image from ginnerobot's photostream on Flickr.

11. Public Traffic Statistics.

I want the super statistics for my website. And make them public. I want to see which is the most popular article today, which was yesterday. I want nice traffic graphs and trends.

12. Public Twitter Statistics.

Find who's tweeting about catonmat and put all these tweets on a separate page. Find who's the most active catonmat tweeter and make this person stand out. Link to twitter profiles.

13. Integrate GitHub Directly In Catonmat

Integrate GitHub with status updates, friend count, directly in catonmat. Would have to write some kind of a scraper or use their API, if it's usable for this purpose.

14. Implement Threaded Comments.

Currently I have linear comments, which are no good. To find whom someone replied to I have to scroll through the comments. This doesn't make any sense. I have to add threaded comments. This will also engage users is more conversations.

15. Have Individual Links To Comments Like On Reddit.

I don't like links to comments in a form I want them to be in form so that each comment (or thread of comments) is on its own page. This way, if linked to a comment, person will precisely have that comment loaded. Browsers can misbehave in case of anchor links like #comment-55 and I don't like that.

16. Lightweight Syntax For Comments.

There are just a few things comments need:

  • Quote someone.
  • Emphesize part of a comment in bold or italic.
  • Link to some page.
  • Share code fragment (auto syntax highlight it).

That's it. Nothing else is necessary, no stupid HTML comments.

17. Filter Comments By Language.

My website is getting a lot of spam from Russia with comments in Russian. I am sure no one would write comments in Russian on my site. Add a filter to leave just the English comments. All other are spam.

18. Add Gravatar Icons To Comments.

Gravatar is at It's a map from emails to jpegs of user icons. This will make people stand out. Also display the gravatar user icons on comment statistics (point above). Having gravatars will emotionally associates you with commentators and the next time you see a gravatar you can predict the nature of the comment (depending if you had positive emotions or negative before).

19. Add More "Contact Me" Options Near "About me" on The Right Sidebar.

You want to get yourself out. If you don't do it, no one will come after you. Add links to Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, Plurk, GitHub, FriendFeed, perhaps some other sites. Show the email as an image and add a link to my IRC channel #catonmat on Initially show only Twitter, Facebook and GitHub. Add an arrow down clickable image. After clicked displays all other contact options.

20. Snippets Page.

I have been writing and collecting various programming snippets. I want to have them in a central database on my site. Instead of putting them on some foreign service like GitHub's Gist or Pastebin of some kind, I want to keep them on my website in my database so that I can easily modify them in a single place and integrate within posts.

Flower Field An image from digital cat's photostream on Flickr.

21. Add Revision Control For All The Pages.

Currently if I edit a page, the previous page is lost and I can't see the changes. It's crucial to keep the changes as sometimes I need to get something from a year ago. I have to add revision control like wikipedia does. The URL scheme could be - displays all available revisions, and displays changes between r1 and r2, but I have to think about it a bit more.

22. Create Tiny URLs For Articles On My Own Site

I don't want to depend on some service that may go down. Make short urls like, where abc is [a-zA-Z0-9] this will give me 238328 URLs, more than enough. I could even go for something shorter.

23. Optimize Catonmat Load Speed To Maximum.

Use the page-speed FireBug plugin to optimize site loading speed. Page-speed is at Things to be optimized include minified javascript, minified html, gzip compressed content, maximizing caching, use asynchronous js loading of google analytics and others.

24. Make The Posts More Available

Currently the posts are only available as HTML documents. I should try to convert them to PDF and put them to Scribd. I have to think about consequences as Scribd may show up on search engines at a higher ranking position than catonmat iself, which would have drastic impact on the traffic. Saving to PDF has a benefit that it's a single file. If saved as HTML, the browser creates a folder with tons of images. Can't be shared easily and is clutter. Perhaps offer a PDF download for all articles.

25. Make Posts Printer Friendly.

Create a nice CSS template for printing articles. At the end of the article include URLs to all the mentioned resources. Add an option to choose whether to print comments or not. URL structure could be

26. Add A "Share this" Widget.

Add "Share this" widget and perhaps "Reddit this", "Digg this", "Stumble this", etc., buttons. This should be based on referrer as I don't want to show "Reddit this" to a Digg visitor as there is a holy war between Reddit and Digg. Also add "Tweet this" button somewhere.

27. Utilize The New Google Feature Of Displaying Named Anchors In Search Results.

See this post: Some of my posts utilize this (10 Awk Tips, Tricks and Pitfalls), but I need to utilize it more.

28. Highlight The Python Code As In SQLalchemy Documentation.

I like how the code is highlighted in SQLalchemy documentation. I am not sure if they are using Pygments or not, but I'll try to make mine exactly the same. Example:

29. Create Pagination For Posts/Categories/Tags As In

I like the style of Flickr's pagination. Got to implement the same on catonmat. Example:

30. Have Pages Open In A New Window By Default.

I feel that opening links in a new window would keep visitors on the website longer. I haven't tested but I will A/B this. Update: This is not a good idea, won't implement it.

Butterfly An image from paraflyer's photostream on Flickr.

31. Investigate What Do Various <a rel="..."> Do.

There are a bunch of different relations like rel="bookmark", rel="prev", rel="next". This could improve the website navigation greatly. More info here:

32. Perhaps Remove The Article Date Altogether.

I have noticed myself that if I search for something and I find an article from 2004, I want to look for something fresher. Got to A/B test this and see how long do people stay on the site.

33. Add An IP Ban List.

Sometimes spammers use the same IPs. Rather than iptables -I INPUT --src IP -j REJECT them, just block them at application level, 404 all pages, or redirect them elsewhere.

34. Automatically Translate All Pages To All Languages Via Google Translate

Sometimes people search for something in their own language and can't find it. Perhaps they don't know English term and therefore can't find what they wanted. If I automatically translate all pages to all languages, people would end up on my website and find what they were looking for. The URL scheme for this could be:, where xx is two letter international language code.

35. Try Out Dustin Curtis' Advice On Best Performing Link Texts.

Dustin Curtis did an experiment where he tried various link texts to invite readers to follow him on Twitter. The first version was "I'm on Twitter", this got 4.70% click through rate. The last version was "You Should follow me on Twitter <here>". This had 12.81% CTR, which is a massive improvement.

36. Add "Ask Peteris Krumins" Section Where People Can Ask Me Various Questions.

People ask me a lot of questions over email. I could answer all the questions on my website instead of email. This way everyone could always find all my answers.

37. Add A "FAQ" section.

I get asked the same questions over and over again over email. For example,

  • What do I have to know for Google interview?
  • What books do I read?
  • How to learn C++/C/Python/Algorithms?
  • etc.

Instead of sending the answer over email, I could send these people to FAQ page where they could find my latest answers (as they change over time).

38. Add Knowledge Database.

This idea has the highest priority. A knowledge database is a section on my website where I can write everything that I learned each day. This should be accompanied with a desktop application that has a hotkey that instantly brings up input dialog and I can type what I just learned. I had a database like this in 2002-2004 and my knowledge literally went exponential. I wrote out key facts that I learned each day and could easily locate as necessary.

39. Add A Miniblog For Quick Articles.

Sometimes I have some cool idea or quick hack that I want to share, but as I am used to writing large and well thought out articles, I can't post the quick hacks and my thoughts don't get shared. A miniblog would allow me to share even the smallest thoughts that I have.

40. Add More Programming Quotes.

I love various smart programming quotes. I should make them more accessible, make them searchable by author/text.

Butterfly An image from paraflyer's photostream on Flickr.

41. Integrate LaTeX In My Posts.

As I am sometimes writing about maths, I need to integrate LaTeX directly in my posts. I should not forget to do SEO on images it generates - instead of having some ridiculous <img src="latex-generator?q=$\begin{bmatrix}1&2\3&4\end{bmatrix}$>" I should have it generate an image "<img src="matrix.jpg" title="Matrix">". This way people will be able to find my posts via image search if they search for some mathematical terms like "Matrix".

42. Try Out How The Articles Look With Text-Align: Justify.

I currently have the default left-aligned text. Books and journals have it justified. Not sure how it would look on my website. Have to try it out. A/B. I read somewhere that this may feel confusing to dyslexic users.

43. Have In-Line Code Snippets And Variables Stand Out From Rest Of The Text.

A nice example of this is Github's blog. They have gray background for constant-width things. See this:

44. Have <a> Links Change Background Color On Hover.

I love how has done it: I want this.

45. Have Only One Category Per Post But Multiple Tags.

A post should have only one single category. The category must strictly define the main theme of the article. A post can have multiple tags. Tags define topics discussed in the post.

46. Add Crazyegg Tracking For The First Month.

Must add crazyegg to track how the users navigate the site, where they click and what they visit. Optimize based on the results.

47. Add A Job Board.

As my site is getting more popular and popular among programmers, it may be a good idea to add a job board. Joel Spolsky made a million $ in a year with job boards. As the popularity of my site increases, I might make a few dollars out of it as well.

48. Use Statcounter and Google Analytics

This is obvious. Statcounter is for real-time data. The free version is limited to statistics of last 500 visits. Google Analytics is for keeping long term statistics with a day of delay in updates. Load them asynchronously:

49. Form Input Fields And Text Fields Should Change Border Color On Focus.

Users should know what field they are focused to without trying to find the cursor.

50. Mandatory Alt Attributes For Images, Title Attributes For Links.

The rationale of this feature is that if images don't get loaded or if blind people are listening to the content of my posts via text-to-speech engine, they should know what the image displays. Alt tags also help the search engines to classify images. The same goes for title attributes for links.

51. Optimize Meta Description For Categories And Tags

Category and tag pages usually have meta description as "Posts in <category>". This is unsatisfactory. I want a description of category and if it's missing or is too short, I want it to have some post titles in it, to make it unique. The same for tags, make meta tags "Posts in <tag>: post title1, post title2, ..." not exceeding 20 words or so.

Bee An image from dsevilla's photostream on Flickr.

The next post in this series will be about Python libraries that I use for the new catonmat and the structure of the site. You can also follow the development on GitHub (I started importing code only yesterday so there is not much yet).