On this day exactly one year ago — 28 July 2018 — I published the first-ever article here on Matexperience. Since then a lot of things changed, a lot of ideas were born, new friendships were made and I learned so much new about running my very own website that I wanted to kind of sum up this first 12 months and share some of my plans for the upcoming year.
It all started with a review of Piporé Con Palo — back in the day when I just started drinking mate, it was the first yerba that I really liked and the one that made me want to start taking notes for future reference, that ultimately led me to create Matexperience. When I decided to make a website, I thought why not start with something good and familiar so I revisited Piporé Con Palo, which to this date is one of my favorite yerba mate brands.
Writing more content
When I started Matexperience I had a lot of ideas about what kind of content I want to write for this website. However, I never wrote anything extensively so in the last year I discovered a lot of new things about the process of writing in general. The main revelation for me was that it is not as easy and as fast as I thought it would be! I want my articles to be clear and on point, which takes a lot of time so I needed to figure out how to write more consistently and efficiently without becoming shallow and sacrifice quality. It is still work in progress as I’m figuring out different aspects of this art, but few things became clear to me very soon and incorporating them into my writing routine helped immensely.
For instance, I found that for me writing on paper first is crucial — there is something about this old-school process of putting ink on paper that makes writing so much more fun and creative, plus it allows me to enjoy my other hobby — fountain pens. Writing with a pen on paper also gives me an extra opportunity for editing — there is always something that I end up noticing and changing while transferring my written text to a digital document. Even though it takes more time, in the end, I am pretty happy with the quality of the final publication.
Yerba mate reviews
The bread and butter of this website in the first year were reviews — I tried a lot of new yerba mate brands and blends, and revisited enough of my old favorites to keep me busy writing just about them! I really enjoyed sharing my thoughts on different yerbas, and every new mate that I tried convinced me even more that yerba mate is gourmet — every blend is unlike the other one and has those different flavor nuances that make it as interesting to explore as other gourmet products, like wines, teas, and coffees. Creating a comprehensive reviewing system also helped me to be more detailed and proved to be very impressive as I see a lot of other bloggers and reviewers using my ideas and approaches in their recent reviews. Hopefully, my reviews were also able to inspire you to explore this vast world of yerba mate and made your perception of this drink a bit more sophisticated and enjoyable.
Mate is still an exotic drink outside of South America and obviously not as popular and spread worldwide as tea and coffee. I always keep that in mind when writing, but it’s impossible to talk about mate without using some slang that can be confusing to new people. That’s why I created a glossary of most common terms that you can stumble upon when reading about mate here on this website or somewhere else. Recently I took it even further — glossary terms are now highlighted in the text, and clicking or tapping on it shows a quick pop-up with the definition of that term, which is more convenient than going back and forth to the glossary page.
Technical stuff and challenges
As a software developer, I wanted this website to be fast, secure, simplistic yet beautiful. For this first year, I was experimenting a lot with layout, visibility, and sizes of different elements and I think right now it is pretty close to my goal — content-forward resource with a clear structure that is easy to navigate.
One of the technical goals for this website was to make it as fast as possible. Internet is a unique place where people have access to massive amounts of information within a fraction of a second. There is no need to wait — if a page from web search results takes some time to load, a person will just click on another page with similar information, so having a lightning-fast response time is crucial.
There are studies that prove that abundance of information narrows our attention span, so it is becoming more and more important to grab that attention as fast as possible before a person switches to some other thing. Performance matters not only because it is directly correlated to percantage of retained users, improving conversions and increasing overall satisfaction of user experience, but also because it explicitly affects the ranking of website in search engines.
That is why I decided to make this website static, meaning that there is no executable code, no databases and no servers needed. Basically, it is just a collection of static HTML pages served to you via CDN, which is not only extremely fast, compared to CMS installation, like Wordpress, but also very secure — there is simply no code to exploit! I built Matexperience with a static site generator Hugo, which gives me the freedom to create site structure exactly how I want it and makes creating content in Markdown much easier and quicker than in Wordpress or any other CMS. Code is deployed to a private remote repository and is automatically deployed with every new change — Netlify has proven to be an extremely reliable and hassle-free CDN with seamless deployments and clear transparent workflow.
Progressive Web App
If you haven’t already noticed, Matexperience is a Progressive Web App, meaning that you can use it as a native app on your mobile device. I myself use my phone for web browsing all the time and I absolutely love this technology, as it makes mobile experiences so much easier and more convenient compared to regular mobile apps and regular web pages. Matexperience can be simply added to the home screen of your mobile device without taking up storage space and will be more fast and reliable than a typical website. I think it is the best way to read Matexperience on mobile phones or tablets, so I highly suggest you at least try it out (supported by every major browser an operating system).
Working as a software engineer, I am used to seeing dark themes, modes, and interfaces everywhere. Lately, this seemed to become a trend — Apple introduced dark mode to its recent Mojave release of macOS while Microsoft is also trying to refine its dark theme in Windows 10.
And while I am not personally a big fan of dark interfaces, I understand that they are obviously very popular — that’s why in the past few weeks I was working on adding a dark mode to this website for those who like to browse the web at night or simply like dark aesthetic better. Things still might look a bit weird and unfinished as it’s still experimental, but feel free to check it out — the switcher is right at the bottom of every page. Your preferences will be remembered per device and per browser, so you won’t need to turn dark mode on every time you visit this website. And, of course, you can turn it off at any time using the same switcher.
Matexperience launched without any commenting system, but communication and feedback from people are crucial to any kind of content, be it YouTube videos, social media posts or web articles. After some research on that subject, I decided to take a popular route and added Disqus to this website. It is a very popular commenting system that has been used on many other websites and should be familiar to many people. However, I experienced some performance issues with Disqus so I’m not quite settled on it. There are not a lot of comments yet on this website, so I am still figuring out the best way to organize comments — any meaningful feedback is highly appreciated.
When it comes to exposure, social media is one of the best ways of getting noticed and drive people to the content. I use social media all the time to stay on top of things — it is a great way to follow updates on specific things that I like.
Social media gave me an opportunity to engage with a lot of like-minded people and companies that are passioned about mate. It was amazing to see some recognition from famous brands on Twitter and receive awesome testimonials from readers on Facebook. Expanding social media presence to Instagram and Pinterest also went much better than I expected.
Instagram quickly became engaging — a lot of people were tagging Matexperience on their beautiful pictures and it was very fun and rewarding to share those photos with the community. If that sounds interesting to you - follow @matexperience on Instagram and tag it on your beautiful photos, videos, and stories to get featured!
Pinterest was always a mystery to me, but quickly became one of my favorite social networks when I understood it — a lot of people seem to enjoy my collections of everything related to yerba mate that I found useful and interesting — infographics, recipes, articles, and more inspiring beautiful pictures!
What’s coming next
The first year of Matexperience was amazing and exciting, but there are more things to come in the next 12 months that I can’t wait to share!
First off, I will publish more diverse content in the form of educational articles, tutorials, tips, tricks, and how-tos. I will also be exploring more broad topics that are somehow related to yerba mate, so stay tuned for that! Reviews are also not going anywhere — there is so much new yerba mate on my hands that I can’t wait to try and share with you!
Very soon I will be launching an email newsletter. People who signup to the newsletter will receive updates on the new content that I will be posting, as well as some exclusive bonuses that I will reveal at launch, so definitely stay tuned for that!
Of course, there is more to come but I want to keep some of my ideas in secret and leave a room for a surprise;)
Last, but not least, I would like to say huge thanks to all of the people who were reading and supporting Matexperience in its first year. I really appreciate that from all the things in your life you chose to spend your time here and left some valuable feedback and comments on this website, in emails and on social media — I am very humbled and honored by that.
Special thanks to Jonathan Kraayenbrink from Un-Mate and Sebastián Abolsky from Pampa Direct for believing in me and supporting Matexperience. It’s been a huge pleasure and honor to become acquainted with such passionate and professional people who are striving to bring great things to the wonderful world of mate, and I cannot recommend enough to come and check out their endeavors.
I hope with this post I offered you a glimpse behind the scenes of what’s going on at Matexperience. It’s been very interesting for me to reflect on things that happened in this first year, so I am hoping to make such posts an annual thing. I will also be publishing more posts with announcements and updates on this blog, so see you very soon!