Invisible Features

Today I added a new feature to my web-based solver for KenKen puzzles. The interesting thing about this feature is that it’s invisible to the user; the user interface doesn’t change, the program simply gains new abilities. Enhancements like this make me happy.

The Change

To recap from yesterday: KenKen puzzles have a simplifying restriction which requires their subtraction and division cages to contain exactly two cells. This restriction isn’t necessary, and many similar puzzles dispense with it. Yesterday we saw how to modify a Python KenKen solver to handle puzzles that do not have this restriction, and today I released a new version of the web-based solver with a similar modification.

The UI

The great thing about this change is: There’s no UI. No widgets, no message boxes, no graphics. You just enter the puzzles, exactly as before, and the solver finds a solution, exactly as before. Well, not exactly, of course: Before, if you entered certain puzzles, the solver would complain, and show you an error message. Now, it just shows you the answer. So, actually, there’s less UI than before.

Most people would agree that big, honking UIs are bad. If you want to avoid them, you have to concentrate on features that don’t need them. Look at it this way: People have complained a lot about Mercedes-Benz’s (very powerful) COMAND system; people rarely complain about their (very powerful) AMG motors. There’s a reason for that.

Future Work

Obviously, we need more users. Therefore, my immediate plans are related to marketing:

  • Add more sites to the whitepaper (to increase its relevance)
  • Research widgets (create additional SKUs of the puzzles)

Yesterday’s Stats

Stat 13th
Visitors 24
Visits 25
Pageviews 182
Pages/Visit 7.28
Avg. Time on Site 7:59

The stats remain firmly in the “meh” camp, but I think my advertising approach might be sort of working. Not working well, but working. At the moment, I’m running a very small ad budget. I want to see if my Adwords stats (CPC, Quality Score, etc.) remain stable for a few days, then raise the budget, and see if I can reliably buy traffic. I wouldn’t say that’s a good idea, given my shaky monetization plans, but I want to see if it’s even possible. If I triple my daily budget, will I triple my clickthroughs, and jump my traffic? Next week, we’ll find out!

Follow Along

You can subscribe to my RSS feed, if you’d like to follow along with this month’s project, in which I attempt to create and popularize a puzzle site.

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