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How To Create an Interactive Site: Tips from Experte

How To Create an Interactive Site: Tips from Experte

Roberto Popolizio Roberto Popolizio

Experte is the go-to resource for tools & guides that can help your digital transformation. But other than that, it’s a very interesting site with some curious technical choices, which we will discuss in this interview with

Please describe the story behind Experte: How did it all start, and how has it evolved so far?

I started EXPERTE.de back in 2017 in Germany. In German, Experte means ‘expert’ and I wanted to help freelancers and small business owners (like myself) find and select the right software and tools for their businesses.

Because I have a technical background as a programmer, I began by creating highly interactive comparison tables, through which users could filter providers and plans based on their individual needs. Since then, I’ve gathered together a team that reviews the leading products to further help our audience decide what solutions best meet their needs.

But there’s a lot more to EXPERTE than just comparisons and reviews, as we’ve also built more than 20 in-house tools to assist our audience in all sorts of aspects relating to their businesses. To highlight one example, our Accessibility Checker makes it possible to automatically assess an entire website for accessibility issues without having to input each individual URL.

In 2019, we launched an international version of our site, EXPERTE.com. While that site is still fairly young, we are hoping to achieve similar levels of success to those we’ve enjoyed with our German version.

Who is your main target audience?

We primarily target freelancers and small business owners who are either looking to build or improve their website, and/or find innovative IT security solutions. 

I see you’re using AWS as your hosting provider. What made you choose it?

We use AWS Lambda to host our website. For those who aren’t familiar with it, AWS Lambda is a so-called ‘Function as a service’ (Faas) offering, which basically means that instead of administering your servers on your own, you simply upload your code and the provider takes care of the rest.

This approach has two advantages that are key to us: First, we don’t have to worry about scaling our servers whenever we experience a spike in visitors since AWS Lambda automatically scales to millions of requests. Second, we’re billed based on our usage, so during the night or at times when there are few visitors, we don’t have to pay for capacity that isn’t being used.

While AWS Lambda works great for serving our pages, we also make heavy use of Cloudflare. AWS Lambda’s functions are executed in Europe but our visitors come from around the world, so we need a way to pre-cache all our pages in datacenters closer to them. We’ve built a custom solution that pushes all our pages into Cloudflare KV, a globally distributed key-value store. This way, we get a low ‘time to first byte’ (TTFB) even for visitors based in Asia, Africa, or South-America. For WordPress users, Cloudflare offers a similar service called Cloudflare APO.

Even more interesting is your choice of Contentful and Prismic to build your website. Why not WordPress?

While WordPress is a great fit for sites that rely primarily on static content, it is not always the best choice if you want to build interactive sites. This is the case for us, since we offer lots of interactive tools on EXPERTE.com, like our Bulk Page Speed Check or Automatic Background Remover. Creating these tools is much easier with a JavaScript framework like React, Vue, or Angular. For that reason, we decided to use Angular as our frontend framework.

While these frameworks offer plenty of flexibility on the frontend, they don’t come with a built-in way to manage content (like WordPress does). That’s where so-called ‘headless cms’, like Contentful and Prismic, come into play: Instead of delivering content as HTML, they return it in a clearly structured format via an API. After that, the frontend framework picks up that content and renders it as HTML in the browser.

Contentful and Prismic are both great CMS. We use Contentful for all structured data in our comparison widgets and tools, and Prismic for creating our content pages.

For us, both work great, as they allow us to create the interactive sites you see. But if you have a website that is mostly static, the added complexity of Contentful and Prismic might not be worth their benefits.

You are nailing it in some of the most competitive affiliate niches. Can you share any tips for new bloggers?

One of my mistakes when I started out was not properly or adequately researching whether a niche or topic was worth going into. For that reason, I would recommend that bloggers who are looking to establish themselves take extra time to make sure that the topics they’re writing about will actually yield results.

Some of my criteria when deciding whether to start looking at a new topic or niche are:

  • Are there enough affiliate programs?
  • What is the average commission for relevant programs?
  • What is the combined search volume of the brands?
  • Does the topic have enough informational keywords?
  • Have other affiliate sites already covered the topic? (If they have, this is actually a good sign)

Choosing the right niche at the start is absolutely vital, in my opinion. Otherwise you run the risk of expending resources and investing a considerable amount of time into something without having anything to show for it.

 

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