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Continuing with our “data, and what we can learn from it” theme, here are A List Apart‘s four most popular individual pages this week (excluding the home page, with 178,270 page views). Pay particular attention to the publication dates:
|Article||Page Views This Week|
|Flash and Standards: The Cold War of the Web by Daniel Mall, MARCH 9, 2010||41,035|
|Drop-Down Menus, Horizontal Style by Nick Rigby, JUNE 29, 2004||40,683|
|CSS Design: Taming Lists by Mark Newhouse, SEPTEMBER 27, 2002||37,867|
|[Articles Index Page]||34,630|
What do these stats tell us?
For one thing, they tell us that for every reader who viewed A List Apart as a topical periodical publication—that is, for each person who read one of its latest articles—there were two readers who used the magazine as a source of evergreen web design and development content.
Put another way, for every person who uses A List Apart like a magazine or blog, there are two who use it as an encyclopedia of best practices in coding and design.
We’re looking at only seven days worth of statistics, here, but the pattern is consistent from week to week. What it tells the editors is that we’re not in the quick-hit eyeballs and ad sales business (but we knew that), we’re in the professional education business. It reminds us, if we needed reminding, that the mission stated on our Contribute page is still true:
We want to change the way our readers work, whether that means introducing a revolutionary CSS technique with dozens of potential applications, challenging the design community to ditch bad practices, or refuting common wisdom about, say, screen readers.
As we go about soliciting and reviewing potential ALA content, we must keep uppermost in our minds how people use our site, because its value lies in the hardiness of our best articles. Web professionals trust us to have the information they need to do their jobs better and deliver the best possible experience to their clients’ customers (and thus the best value to their clients). These stats reinforce what we already know, and help us stay true to our core purpose and values.
This emphasis on the evergreen over the topical also helps us as we strategize means of deepening our relationship with the web design community and add or change features to do so.
I’m barely scratching the surface of what the data tells us, but the little I have teased out so far is already very useful—and that’s the point. The more you look, the more you can learn. What’s in your logs?
Those who say web users don’t spend time reading web pages haven’t met readers like you folks. According to Google Analytics, zeldman.com fans spent five minutes, fifty-five seconds reading the relatively short post, “My Love/Hate Affair With Typekit.” If Jakob Nielsen is right, and readers take in no more than 20% of the words on a page, y’all took a hella long time to read 190 words.
But generalized findings like Jakob’s are merely one data point in a universe of possibilities. Every site is a special snowflake, with stats and usage patterns all its own. Faced with an unfamiliar shopping site, we may indeed give it little more than a cursory scan before closing the window and returning to Google to fine-tune the search that led us there. But when we visit a familiar site to read, then read we do—as anyone with a good blog and a decent set of analytics tools can tell you.
Here are a few recent average times readers spent poring over various zeldman.com posts:
|Post Title||Average Time Spent|
|My Love/Hate Affair With Typekit||5:55|
|20 Signs You Don’t Want That Web Design Project||7:52|
|Ed Bott’s Lament||4:22|
|Gowalla My Dreams||4:41|
Morals of the story:
- Don’t use Peter’s stats to paint Paul.
- If you want people to spend time reading your site, give them better content.