With the recent massive changes, I feel it's time for a short developer update because most of you won't visit the 'What's New'-page regularly. And since they are hopefully not even visible, I still want to give you an overview because I want to validate that the platform is moving in the right direction.
In October I already removed these annoying Google ads. While they helped me cover at least some of the server costs in the beginning, Google enabled more and more experiments over time like the overlay at the bottom of the screen. This was no active decision by me, but it tripled the income from around 100€ / month to over 300€. With months of over 1 million page impressions, that's still nothing compared to what the platform maintenance costs me. But it was a start so I kept it like that. It did annoy me a lot because I love clean and beautiful designs but I always felt that this was simply necessary.
Hint: I decided to share the actual revenue numbers for the ads here because I think it's important to understand that this platform couldn't exist without the Premium Subscribers. Thank you so much for your support. This means the world to me.
Recently, I saw more and more scam ads or ads that follow you around the web and all your devices. This only helped me to finally take the leap and move forward without any external ad service. I looked at a few after they wrote me and while some of them promised a little higher income than Google Adsense, they were selling the generated data to even more ad networks and that's the point that I simply can't align with my conviction and integrity.
I designed the new ads by myself to fit the visual quality of the platform and while they will result in a lower income for me, this was only the first step in the plan I had in my head for so long.
Be the Change you want to see in the World
I am sure you like these cookie hints as much as I do. On almost every page you have to click them away, nobody reads them anyway although the information is so valuable because websites work with your data. The basic idea behind GDPR is great and it's so important to secure the data in the best possible way.
That's why Locationscout doesn't have a cookie hint anymore, simply because the platform doesn't use any tracking or ad cookies anymore. I worked hard to find a solution for this, but I want the web to be a better place and that's why I want to lead by example. Changes like this are usually not financially rewarding which is why most companies won't go this path until they have to, but that's simply the change I want to see and why I decided to offer 0% licensing fees or to invest in multiple environmental non-profits quite some time ago although the platform isn't financially sustainable yet.
To get at least some anonymous insights, I switched to Plausible which is a privacy-focused Google Analytics alternative. It's not for free but it's the right choice in my opinion to protect our data.
All new Images
Stephan and I worked for over a year now on the new image service and it was finally time to invest more time to finish this project. With this day, almost all images are generated dynamically by our new service, resulting in much smaller sizes with better quality. I tried so many options and configurations and I think this is the best possible outcome, making sure that your beautiful photos will be shown as perfectly as possible while still saving traffic to users who are on the go away from their wifi. This should also improve the user experience for everybody because everything will load faster.
The small preview images are still jpg but all large-size images shown inside the spots or articles are now webp, which is a modern image format that saves around 30% size with the same quality. I compared a lot of photos in the last few weeks and webp is definitely sharper in the details, has less grain in general, and allows us to serve a bit higher resolutions without sacrificing loading time. Very clean skies with just very little structure look a bit different though than the usual grain that was simply a result of the jpg compression algorithm. I think this is the only part that I need to get used to but it's not even worse, it's just different and well worth the other benefits in my opinion. Some images might initially load a bit slower now because they need to be generated first, but this is only done once, and afterward, the loading time should be super fast.
What do you think about these changes? With even less tracking I am more dependent to get personal feedback from you but that was and always will be the most important factor by which I measure my work anyway. Also, feel free to write me at any time if you experience any issues with the latest changes.