It's no secret that I started Random Bytes to build interest in WebLens and to direct additional traffic there, which it has done quite successfully. Interestingly, though, the audiences for the two sites differ radically, a fact made clear in site stats. The differences are worth sharing here since my blog's audience may represent yours too.
Audience CharacteristicsI have discovered, in poring through my stats, that this blog's audience — that's you, folks — consists of what marketing types would call early adopters, whereas my WebLens audience is more mainstream.
This blog's audience is more adventurous than the WebLens audience. At the risk of generalization, I would venture that you have a greater appreciation for innovation, are more tech-savvy, and are more likely to take risks. This is reflected in the fact that an astounding 65% of you use Firefox or another non-IE browser. My WebLens audience is more conventional, at 82% IE use. (Serious implications here for standards-compliant web design and cross-platform testing.)
Screen ResolutionWith respect to screen resolution, it would seem both audiences are right in the middle, with 65% of the WebLens audience working at 1024 x 768 resolution, versus 61% of the Random Bytes audience.
The difference is seen at the top and bottom extremes, with 5% of Random Bytes visitors at 800 x 600 versus 17% of the WebLens audience. Conversely, about 20% of you are viewing this page on 1280 x 1024 screens versus 10% of the WebLens audience!
Operating SystemsOnce again, choice of operating system varies significantly at the low end, with 13% of WebLens users on Win98 versus 4% of Random Bytes' audience. The other Windows variants (XP, 2000, 2003, ME) represent approximately 86% and 83%, respectively, of the Random Bytes and Weblens audiences. Mac users represent roughly 2-3% of both audiences.
Traffic SourcesMostly importantly, the source of the traffic is markedly different. WebLens' visitors come primarily from universities, colleges, libraries, K-12 schools, governments, and other institutions, via search engines, directories, and links from such entities. WebLens has been around since 1994, so it enjoys healthy link popularity.
On the other hand, this blog is new; its audience still growing, with minimal traffic coming from mainstream search engines. Instead, people are finding Random Bytes through blog search tools like Technorati, through feed aggregators like BlogLines, via people's blogrolls, and via blog directories and link exchanges like BlogExplosion or BlogClicker.
These alternate traffic sources, combined with proactive dissemination of blog content via RSS, render blogs an effective new channel for promoting conventional web sites like WebLens.
Site "Stickiness"I have succeeded in getting you here. My challenge has been to keep you hanging around longer. A discouraging 80% of you linger here less than 5 seconds. It's a little better over at WebLens, where only 66% of the audience clicks away in 5 seconds or less.
I have taken a number of measures to increase site "stickiness" at WebLens. One that has started to pay off is the scattering of strategic cross-links throughout pages. If someone is already on a page of Scholarly & Academic Research resources, why not offer them a link to Reference Tools & Dictionaries? It's working well, and I'm already seeing pages that have been languishing moving up in hit counts.
I'm curious to know if these stats mirror your experience. Do they matter? Do you think the blogosphere is "different"? Share your thoughts, and sign up for our feed to be sure not to miss future posts.