or just:

Site Building

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Feedback from hundreds of users

I wanted to get some quick feedback on my new maps, so I posted my site on a website of "geeks" called Hacker News. In addition to 1049 unique visitors and over 3000 page views (!!!!), they posted many helpful comments. The general consensus was that the site name is not great, the clusters concept is a bit too complicated, some of the charts and tables are not clearly explained, and the colors on the map seemed backwards.

So, with those suggestions in mind, I have made these changes:

  • Changed the map colors: bright (saturated) red/blue is now for states where the name is most popular, and light (low saturation - closer to white) is for less popular. Thank you for that suggestion, I agree that it is more intuitive now. The only trick with this is to get the top 10 to show some differences, which on a linear scale did not work, so I had to make it on a log scale (see js code for details).
  • I changed some column headings. "Rank (modified)" is now just "rank," "Cluster Popularity" is now "Popularity (1880-2006)". I think some people thought all the bars on the chart had to do with the popularity of the individual names in the cluster, as opposed to the popularity of the names over time. Hopefully that change will make it more clear.
  • I will get a new domain name. My thought right now is: BabyNamesAcrossAmerica.com But, that might be too long of a name.
  • Simplify: I plan to condense the "cluster" page and "single name" page into one page so that people don't get lost. I have not done this.

But, wow, I'm glad that I got so many people visiting this site from that great HN community. Hopefully with these changes (and some press) I can start getting more visitors.

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New MySQL client is now available

When I was thinking about building this website, I took a side trip and made a new mysql client, based upon psh (Perl Shell).

Here is the source code, hosted at code.google.com:
http://code.google.com/p/psh-mysql-client/

The default MySQL client is nice, but I wanted to add some features to it, like command aliases. I also wanted to be able to be in my normal shell and quickly grab stuff from a MySQL table without switching terminals. So, I wrote a couple extensions to the psh (Perl Shell).

Two new commands are "dls" and "dhead". Screenshots below

3 months after launch

Baby Name Clusters has been on the air for about 3 months. My goal is to have more people finding and using the website, and we are making progress in some areas, but not much progress in terms of traffic, shown here:




We can be Googled now

About 10 days after officially launching our site, we are now officially part of Google search results. The official launch was done by starting with a week of ads on Google. We paid about $10/day for a week for about 100 visitors. I have detailed logs to see what pages they visited and how long they stayed, so that I can try to figure out how to improve the site. This would be a pricey way to keep traffic coming in, so I need to improve my "organic" results (when someone searches for "baby names," we need to be higher up in the results, and preferably on the first page). There are, of course, other ways to drive traffic to this site, but lots of people go to Google and type "baby names," and it would be nice for them to find us.

Thus, within a couple days of our launch, I also submitted the home page to the "googlebot" (the computer which surfs the web) and also the Yahoo! and MSN Live search engines. Google has a very good set of webmaster tools to manage how Google views a website you own. They give lots of advice about how to improve the ranking in a search.

Today, Google has searched some pages of this site, and now you can type "baby name clusters," and we are the top hit! Not that anyone would type that, but it shows that we now exist. When I type "baby names," I went through 30 pages, and I can't find this site... So, there is still work to be done. The best way to improve search ranking is to have people link to this site. Anyone can track how many inbound links there are to a website by searching "link:babynameclusters.com" into Google.

Baby Name Clusters Launched!

This site is now live!

I started working late in 2007 as we searched for a name for our second baby girl. I was fed up with all the standard, boring, baby name websites out there - littered with ads. I will write a "review" of other baby name websites, just so you can see what I mean.

I wanted better name clustering (of related names), cool charts showing popularity, and links to famous or notable people with each name.

See the About page for some more info.

Using this blog, I will talk about interesting name trends that I find when looking through the rich data here. I will also follow the (hopeful) growth in popularity of this website.

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How I used Wikipedia to create a database of famous people

This has been a really fun project. I got to download the entire wikipedia onto my $100 craigslist linux computer. I think its pretty amazing that the entire body of wikipedia knowledge can fit on a DVD (it was only about 4.5 gigabytes).

Why wikipedia? I wanted famous people's names so that new parents could get a feel for whom else has the name they are about to give to a brand new baby. Some new parents are clueless about pop culture (because they already have a kid), or history, or sports... so it seems like it would be really useful to know about notable people, celebrities, or other famous people before picking a special and unique baby name.

For any people wanting to try this at home, read on:

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