I decided I would separate these onto their own page, rather than cluttering up the review feed with random news that break up the “flow” for those that are just looking to browse through our award-winning critiques. So here is where you will find announcements on site changes, read info on upcoming “The Budget Reviews” live radio broadcasts, and anything else that I feel is worth sharing.
BACK IN BUSINESS (1/12/2023)
It’s been a while, hasn’t it? First of all, a belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all. Hope you had a great holiday season.
That bullshit aside, let’s get to the real meat of the matter: If something was missing in your life the past couple of months, and you couldn’t pinpoint why, it was probably my relatively long, unannounced hiatus. Well, let’s just say I’m back in business! The culprit, not that it’s any of your concern, was mostly a move from Ohio to the Tennessee countryside; the secondary reason is a lack of interest in writing.
At any rate, we’re (mostly) settled in, and with only a part-time job currently at my disposal, I should have some free time to provide you all with the hard-hitting journalism you’ve come to expect. Due to our relocation, you can also expect reviews from previously unavailable stores, like Publix! In other words, my lack of focus is about to get even lackier. But don’t worry: We are centrally located to every other store we were close to in Ohio, so there will still be future reviews for Aldi, Kroger and Walmart products, among others.
I also might use some of this free time to redesign the website, but I probably won’t. At any rate, that will occur at some point in the future.
MOBILE ACCESS GREATLY IMPROVED (11/17/2022)
Here’s something I thought I had previously mentioned, but apparently I have not; instead, I will just slip this little bit of news in, and pretend as if I posted it back in November.
After months of promising to increase mobile performance, I finally followed through! You should notice impressive speeds on all mobile devices, even older ones. Performance on desktops should largely remain the same. This means no matter what device you use to access this website, it should load in under three seconds. If you notice any performance issues, feel free to leave them in the comments section on this page.
MALWARE ATTACK! (10/26/2022)
Well, I guess it’s a sign that my blog has hit the bigtime! We were attacked by a malicious URL redirect that took users to some junk-ass website. I happened to check a half-hour ago and quickly rushed home (from Dollar Tree, no less) to (figure out how to) fix the problem. So, apologies for those who have tried accessing the site for the last 8 hours (guess I should check this site more frequently).
As it turns out, some malicious code was causing the site to redirect elsewhere. It has been removed and the site has been restored. So, long story short, it should be fully functional going forward.
LATEST NEWS (10/20/22)
At last, a project that took up pretty much all of my free time since late August is complete. That means I have more personal time to devote (read: waste) to writing reviews that no one will read! I’m trying to play catch-up by posting a little more frequently than I typically would. With other commitments also brewing, we’ll see how long that continues. At any rate, posts shouldn’t be coming any less often than usual.
The plus side is that the project I was working on was another WordPress project, that helped me gain a further understanding of the platform! I still suck at design in general, but I think I can churn out something a little better looking than this. With that in mind, expect a third (!) design update within the coming months. If anyone has any suggestions, feel free to let me know in the comments below! I will also be further optimizing this site for mobile, something I keep saying I will do – and should have done first thing since mobile visitors make-up about 75% of the total – but have yet to do. I’m sorry! I’m stuck in the past and predominantly use computers for everything! Please don’t hate me.
Anyway, I guess the moral is that changes are coming, I’m just not sure when. Hope that clears everything up.
MONTHLY CHECK-IN (3/1/22)
I don’t think I’m really going to check in here monthly, but since there’s still quite a bit of stuff going on behind the scenes, I figure I might as well for now. Below are the changes (and, in some cases, attempted changes) implemented the previous week. Minor work is still being done on the site’s theme and colors, but that’s taking a backseat to content (you know, the whole reason I’m here) for the time being, as I suck at coding and the “guess and check” model is exhausting.
CHANGELOG (VERSION 2.0.1)
- Edited thousands of lines of junk code from old Blogger site to bring up to WordPress standards. (still needed for a few long-term reviews)
- Further adjusted theme colors…still a work in progress.
- Focus on increasing speed for mobile (ongoing; desktop speeds seem fine for now).
- Focus on overall user experience (ongoing)
YET ANOTHER UPDATE & FUTURE PLANS (2/22/22)
Well here it is! After over a month of what felt like non-stop work, and browsing through dozens of themes, we finally think we’ve found “the one”! There will still be some work done to the fonts and colors (courtesy of my wonderful wife) in the coming days to further finalize the design, but this is going to be the main foundation, at least for the foreseeable future. I hope you like it as much as we do.
The next step(s)? We will be fine-tuning it over the coming days, further optimizing it for mobile devices and ensuring it runs quickly on desktops. This will be the one area (well, besides looks) where we’re hoping to ensure a much better experience for mobile users. The old site, while supposedly responsive, consistently received terrible speed scores and the switch to WordPress should certainly remedy that.
We’re also going to be toggling around with ad placements to (hopefully) strike a balance between earning us a little money, and keeping the user experience largely frustration free; at the very least, we want to avoid obtrusive ads that detract from the site’s content. To that end, if you see a lot of ads on the site in the coming days, know that we’re still working on limiting those.
Up ahead into the somewhat recent future, we are going to be completely redoing our categories and labeling system, something I mentioned in a previous update. There’s no ETA on when we hope to complete this (I’ll be taking a break from the design aspects to focus on the actual content for the first time in what feels like forever), but I’ll get cracking on it soon. The end result should be a site that’s much easier to navigate, and to help users find the types of reviews they’re looking for with limited hassle.
As always, thanks for stopping by, and we hope you enjoy your experience here!
THE BUDGET REVIEWS UPDATE (2/19/22)
Well, it’s been almost a week since the sudden “soft launch” of our brand new WordPress-built website! As I posted in the main blog, please pardon the mess for the next couple of weeks (or maybe even month) as I get acclimated to the new setup after spending 11 years on Blogger, Google’s archaic (and rarely updated) platform.
My experience here has been somewhat…mixed, so far, but I suppose that’s part of the process of porting over to an unfamiliar interface. I love the basic functionality of WordPress, and the sheer amount of features you get for the price (technically free) is virtually unmatched. However, the sheer number of available themes and plugins is mind-boggling, to say the least, along with the level of customization offered by each (once again, I’m trying to avoid having to pay for one, lol).
My current theme, which I fell in love with at first site, has been little more than one frustration after another, as almost everything I try to do seems to be limited by the template itself. I’ve found codes to override some of the things, but after toggling with it almost non-stop for the last month (literally, I’ve worked on this every single day since the middle of January), I’ve finally realized that it’s not worth the hassle. So expect the look of this site to change in the very near future (most likely today).
The sudden release of the site before I was ready (hey, I was eager to release it) means there are still a number of things that need updated, but the basic functionality is there; I’m hoping it gets even easier to manage with a new theme. Among other things that I’ll be fixing in the near future: the category/tag system, which is completely different from Blogger. I’m also hoping to upgrade some photos, either filling them in where they are missing (as much as possible, anyway), or updating stock photos to actual photos taken by me. I would consider these to be relatively minor things, though, so there’s no ETA for completion.
More pressing for me is getting the ad count up to where it was on Blogger. I was pulling in a decent amount from ads, but translating the ads here seems to be a little more difficult than I was hoping for (especially since now I’m paying for hosting!) I know no visitor wants to see ads, but it is a great way for people to get paid for their time and content.
So that’s it for now! I’ll keep this spot updated with the latest news so people can follow me on my journey into WordPress. And if you have any questions about the platform, please feel free to ask in the comments, and I’ll use my very limited knowledge to guide you in the right direction as best as I can.
WELCOME TO THE “NEW” BUDGET REVIEWS! (2/14/22)
Well, after 11 years on Blogger, we have finally migrated our site over to WordPress! It was a decision two years in the making, but we’re definitely glad we took the plunge. This will allow us the freedom to design and maintain the site the way we want to, without having to rely on an archaic and diminishing platform (and no offense to those who still use it; it’s a great way to get a start). Best of all, it should be even speedier and more visitor-friendly than our previous iteration, which makes me wonder why it took us so long to pull the trigger.
At any rate, the site should be fully-functional as of today, although I’m sure there will be some issues fully transferring the domain over from Blogger to our new home. I pored through thousands upon thousands of lines of code to bring things up to WordPress standards, which should result in a much cleaner, more user-friendly experience. It’s taken a lot of work (some of it unnecessary due to my unfamiliarity with this platform), but we think the results are well worth it, and will continue to be going forward.
Since the domain name is the same, anyone who followed our old blog (…anyone?) should be automatically redirected to this one, so all links should remain the same as they were. We’ll also be adding some new features, and reorganizing certain things (like categories and tags) to make things even more straightforward. We’re very excited to be here, and are confident that this blog is only going to get even better in the coming months!
BIG CHANGE(S) A-COMING! (1/17/22)
After mulling over the idea for so long that my wife finally got annoyed and just told me to take the plunge, this blog will be migrating to WordPress soon! It’s a terrifying notion, considering I know virtually nothing about how to operate the platform, but hey, can’t learn unless you give it a shot. I’ve currently got most of the data transferred over to the new WP site, but have to iron out a new design, and test it thoroughly to make sure it’s up to speed.
I’m looking to keep everything as similar as possible to this site, although I may overhaul its appearance quite a bit (with ample help from my beautiful wife!) Although I “updated” it last year, the Blogger platform is very limited in terms of themes, so it wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for. It will still be fairly minimalistic, with the idea that performance (speed, reliability, etc.) should be the top priority.
In the meantime, this blog will continue to be functional, however, there might be a slowdown in posts for the next month or so while I focus on perfecting the new blog. The domain (thebudgetreviews.com) will also be transferred over, so for anyone who has bookmarked this site (anyone?) you shouldn’t need to update anything. I’m sure there will be some hiccups as I try to learn something new, but it will certainly be worth it in the long run.
I’ll keep you abreast of updates as we head toward the big switch! As always, thanks for stopping by, and thank you also for your support.
HAPPY NEW YEAR! (1/2/22)
As usual, I’m a little late to the party, but I hope everyone’s transition into 2022 has been smooth. Here’s to hoping for a much better year!
I normally like to take January and February off, but I’m going to be posting some long-term reviews of (mostly) GPT sites occasionally throughout the first two months of the year, just to keep things rolling. (Sadly, my review for Pei, which I completed two weeks ago, is now irrelevant now that the site has shut down.) I also plan on (finally!) updating all the products I promised updated reviews for, with some dating back to 2019 (as you can tell, I’m terrible about following through).
As with everything in life, this is subject to change…I might go back to a normal schedule before March. It all depends on how I feel, and clearly I’m unpredictable.
Speaking of unpredictability, we deleted our Twitter page due to inconsistencies in posting. I’m hoping to fire that back up at some point this year, but once again, that’s subject to commitment, which I seem to be very afraid of.
RADIO SHOW UPDATE (1/2/22)
As yet another example of my inability to focus and live up to my own personally-imposed deadlines, our planned podcast (which will be “airing” on Anchor.fm) has been DOA since June. We definitely plan to pick this back up with some sort of regular schedule, although it will probably only be once or twice a month. Still, we’re looking forward to hitting the studio (aka, our living room) and bringing you some live takes on bizarre products that no one is clamoring for.
More details, including links, will be provided as we start to plan episodes.
Furthermore, links to our old episodes (on the now-defunct Capiche.fm) will be taken down temporarily as that site has been out of service for a few months now (oops!). I’m hoping to upload them to YouTube so that they will still be available, but there’s no ETA for this. Who knows, maybe this is the year I finally get organized and keep my promises!
BEHIND-THE-SCENES OVERHAUL (6/10/21)
Well with the visual change more or less complete (for now, anyway), we recently turned our attention to another area that took a hit from ten years of neglect: labels. I always thought labels were used by Google to help people find pages…as it turns out, that’s a complete fallacy (something I could have quickly learned if I bothered to even spend five seconds searching for this information at any prior point in the past). So, I started going through each and every one of our nearly 600 posts and consolidated them down into meaningful categories.
The system isn’t perfect now, but it’s more functional than it was, with each review labeled with the store it was purchased from, its score, and any applicable categories it belongs to. That means clicking on an “Aldi” label will kick back all reviews of items purchased from Aldi. Clicking on a score rating will return all reviews that match that score. It’s an easier way to browse our ever-growing collection of reviews, should you want to kill a few minutes. I’ll be going through at some point to fine-tune it, and to add additional categories as necessary, but it should work well enough for now. (And if not, there’s always a search function on the left sidebar that can also help you track down what you’re looking for.)
Our next task: we will be taking product photos, where possible, of all the reviews containing stock photos, or poorly-lit images. This will be an ongoing project, but the idea is to have at least a somewhat uniform look to the pictures on the site, rather than having a plethora of clearly rushed photos. I don’t want the damn thing to look professional, but I do kind of want it to be a little more presentable. We are also looking into adding multiple photos per post, where applicable, to break things up and to give you even more visual information about the products reviewed.
VISUAL CHANGE UPDATE (5/21/21)
Well it’s been five days…hopefully by now you have noticed a little change around here. It’s not a great look (I’m terrible at design) but this is more or less how it’s going to look for a little while (hopefully not the next ten years). I’m still noodling around with some minor details, so things may change slightly for you from visit to visit over the next week, but you get the basics.
The only big issue standing in my way is how to present the blog archive…presenting over 500 posts is pretty taxing for many mobile devices, so I’m looking at the best way to make it happen. I have a couple workable options, but they may prove to be too problematic for those on older connections, so we’ll just have to see what comes of it. As of now, it’s in the navigational header, which cuts back system resources by not requiring it to load on every single page (as it did when it was in the sidebar). That’s a start, but it’s still kind of a large file…maybe I’ll figure out a way to break it down to make it more bite-sized for people on older devices.
At any rate, I hope you like it, and if you have any suggestions or comments on the new look, feel free to comment below!
FOLLOW THIS BLOG! (4/17/21)
Wow am I terrible at basic blog functionality…I don’t believe there was an easy way to follow this blog. Since most of my traffic comes organically from Google searches, I was always fine with that, as I get a mostly consistent number of daily users. However, I thought maybe, just maybe, there are people out there that might be interested in keeping up with the latest reviews. After all, you might just find a product you never knew existed, or one you were thinking about trying that I might be able to help you make a final decision on!
Now you can follow us through Feedburner, or whatever blog reader you use. It’s in the right-hand column, at the top of the main page, for easy accessbility on desktop. For mobile, you’ll have to scroll down to the very bottom of the main page, though I’m going to figure out how to get it closer to the top. You can also subscribe to comments, and be notified by email whenever new content is posted, which is usually once every three days.
Of course, the option to follow by email is being discontinued by Google, three days after I was going to implement it. But subscribing through a feed still makes it easy to add email notifications if you so choose.
As always, thanks for visiting, and I hope you enjoyed your stay here!