P.Mean: NYTimes advice on increasing website traffic (created 2009-05-11).

This page is moving to a new website.

The New York Times has an excellent blog entry on increasing traffic to your website.

It is well worth reading if you write a lot of stuff for the web. I had a few additional comments which I added in the comment section of this webpage.

This is an excellent article and the comments are excellent as well. I have a few things to add that I hope are unique contributions.

1. If you want to see your URLs shared by email, keep the URLs short. If your URL gets split by an email system that limits line lengths to 72 or 80 characters, the automated hyperlink that the email system produces will be truncated, leading to confusion by newbies and annoyance by experienced users. It helps if you start off with a short domain name (mine is only five letters long). Don't make your URLs cryptic by using a lot of abbreviations and acronyms, but do avoid very long page or directory names (10-ways-to-build-traffic-to-your-site is very bad). Also, avoid nesting directories within directories if possible.

2. Write about stuff no one else is writing about. In my area (statistics) there's a lot written about sample size calculations, so even though I have many good pages on these topics, they tend to get lost in the shuffle. On the other hand, my limited writing about Poisson regression gets a lot of attention, because there is very little else about this out on the web.

3. You will increase the chance that your writing will be quoted and used elsewhere if you have understandable terms under which others can re-use your content. I like the Creative Commons Attribution License, because it requires a formal attribution (a link back to your original website!) but relatively little else. My old employer insisted on a restrictive copyright, but now that I am an independent consultant, everything I write is open source.

There was a second article along the same lines

Ensa, Azadeh. 10 Ways to Design a Good Web Site Logo - Gadgetwise Blog - NYTimes.com. 2009. Available at: gadgetwise.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/05/08/10-ways-to-design-a-good-web-site-logo/#comment-23739 [Accessed May 12, 2009].

and here is what I wrote about it.

You should consider whether you need a graphic logo at all. Maybe you should use a text-only logo instead. At my new website, I display P.Mean (short for Professor Mean) prominently instead of a graphic logo. It appears as the very first thing on every webpage. More importantly, I make sure that the webpage title always starts with P.Mean. By default, the webpage titles appear in the bookmark file, so if someone has links to

in their bookmark file, they start to think of me as the web thought leader of statistics (wishful thinking, I know).

A graphic logo doesn't appear in your webpage title, or anywhere on the Google search page, so it has less value than a text logo. Of course, you can use both, as I did at my old website.

Also, if you do have a graphics logo, make sure it is not so wide that it forces viewers to scroll to see the entire logo and that it prints on a normal paper size without getting clipped. At my old website, the original design was over 800 pixels wide (it included a search link and some key hyperlinks). I asked them to shrink it to around 500 pixels.

500 pixels doesn't look as impressive on a big screen monitor, but it does work better on most laptops. I also use printouts from my website in many of my lectures, so the printed appearance was absolutely critical. Too many websites that otherwise look nice turn to junk when printed because of clipping (as well as poor choices for margins, colors, etc.)

You can also browse for pages similar to this one at Category: Website details.