The Ever Given was stuck in Suez Canal for just six days, as anyone who has read this will know. It blocked a route that usually carried around 10% of the world’s trade. It generated more than 10% world memes, which is perhaps even more important.
In just five days, the website had received approximately 50 million visits. That puts it roughly on par with the New York Times, though all the visitors to istheshipstillstuck.com were seeing exactly the same page. The site received 8,404 requests per second at its peak.
It was the first result in Google’s search for “is there the ship still stuck?” (before all other newspapers around the world) and received more than 400,000 clicks.
Personally, I have increased my Twitter followers from 208 to more than 3,000. My tweets were also seen more than 1,000,000 times. This is something that has never happened before. Previously, only 15,000 people had seen my tweets in any given month.
It was extremely fun, stressful at times, but ultimately addictive. It was a weekend of intense rage that felt almost like a marathon. This post is basically my post-night out debrief.
I was supposed take a day off. Because I was still under lockdown in the UK, most of my time was spent surfing the web. One time, I Googled “Is it still stuck?” and was surprised at how difficult it was to find the answer. A quick domain search later (I generally use iwantmyname.com or instantdomainsearch.com) and a fairly obvious idea popped into my head.
Next.js is used almost every time we build websites in my day job. Next.js is a framework that’s built on top React and allows you to eliminate most of the complexity involved in building complex websites. This wasn’t a complex website, but it was easy to use.
The headline of the first site was “Is that ship still in port?”. It received a “Yes” answer and three recent articles from New York Times. The New York Times article search API was easy to use and free. I wanted the articles to automatically update when something new was published. This was done in less than an hour. Then I hit the deploy button. (Actually, I didn’t. I set up a Github Integration with Vercel so every time I push to main the site updated automatically)
It was shared in the #devs channel of Time to Spare. Reuben suggested that I add a sea-shanty. I then added a hidden link for that viral TikTok if someone clicked “Yes.” Reda pointed to the need to improve the tags on the social media previews. (I hope that you liked what I did). After completing the fixes, I posted my link to Twitter.
Other features that made it onto this page were submitted via feature requests on Twitter.
Technically, I’ve been using Twitter since 2011. I don’t post often and didn’t have many followers. (I think half of the people I had were bots or inactive). My Mum, my ex-flatmate and colleagues are the only ones who like most of my posts. It’s screaming into a void.
This one felt different and was immediately noticeable. I searched for “what is the best twitter engagement rate?” and found a Hubspot article discussing a 0.8% average. My tweet ran at 25%, although that was a small sample size. This was going to be a lot of fun, I had a feeling.
It was interesting to note that the engagement rate fell very slowly. For a while, it remained above 20%. It was also consistent that around 20% of people who liked my tweet decided to follow me. These stats may not be representative of Twitter as a whole.
I was asked by a few people what I did to promote my site early. I have no idea. I sent one tweet. It wasn’t posted to Facebook, LinkedIn, or any other social media. Twitter’s bizarre algorithms and the absurd scale of the Internet did everything.