Word Clouds

web page word cloud

A word cloud representing the text used in my website, created at: http://www.wordle.net

I thought that it was about time to see what my site looks like as a word cloud. As much as anything it was to see what keywords I might be generating, but also because I thought it would be an interesting experiment. I’m used to using these Wordles for qualitative data collected whilst on fieldwork in my day job, such as questionnaire results or more descriptive methods, and I think they are quite a striking way to graphically represent a lot of text. For those that are unfamiliar with word clouds, the idea is that the software analyses your text and then sizes them accordingly, which you can then customise in terms of colour, font, text direction and a few other semantic bits and pieces.

Anyway…looking at this particular example, which depicts all of the body text to date on the site, you can see I post mostly about mountains & lakes, and of necessity have used photo, gallery and photobox rather a lot. Next there are some geographical terms, like glacier, valley, river (looks like there might be a couple of tags/categories worth adding there), plus place names, such as Brecon Beacons and Snowdonia (which shows I’ve been a bit Wales-centric to start with, although it is kind of what you’d expect since it’s where I’ve made my home). Then there are general adjectives & adverbs, like good, interesting, stunning, generally, definitely, and really (got to try and use the thesaurus a bit more). A few words surprised me: like (must use a few different words for what I feel about things), much, get, one, bit, just, got and go, but then they are common words in everyday usage (Wordle takes out the really common ones like ‘and’ etc.). From a keywords point of view though, I guess I’ve got to build in ‘buy’ & ‘prints’ a bit more often, since that is what I’m hoping to promote. I hope I can manage to do that without boring people -you could argue that just having search engines find my images now will help, so I’ll try not to overdo it.

I did find it interesting to experiment with the number of words represented, and settled on 400, which is some 7% of the around 6000 words I’ve used so far. Any more and it gets to look too cluttered, leaving some words so minuscule as to have little more impact than a line. The only thing that has irked me, and which has never come up before (only using “scientific” language in the past), is that contractions come out as separate words, and that plurals are also counted separately -hence mountain & mountains, photo & photos, ll, isn, and I’m sure there are others I haven’t spotted yet. I know there are other word cloud sites out there, that might do better in this respect, but this is the one I’ve always used before -perhaps readers could suggest an alternative if they have any experience?

A useful experiment, I’ll probably try again in a month or two and see how things have changed.


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