When I write here I tuck in a transparent 1×1 gif hotlinked from my own server so that I can watch the traffic live and see who’s from where and what they’re using. I cranked out an article last night, did the blank gif thing, kept an eye on it for a bit and woah man almost all of them were Windows Phones viewing it. The rest were a small handful of IE9 (desktop) users (no one using an older version), and a couple Androids and someone on an iPad.

Obviously, as a result of my greatly reduced participation on this site over the year, this joint has turned into a full-throttle Windows Phone operation. For better or worse though? Is that what you people, readers, is that the site you want, or would this place be better if we somehow managed to pull in a more device-diverse audience? Obviously we would define better, usually, as whatever brings in more traffic (except porn, politics and cuss words – sigh), but the way to look at it when making a website is that what brings in more traffic is a website that you’d want to visit yourself.

I’ll turn this into an ask-the-readers bit now as some of you are pretty smart and I want an answer to this question really badly (especially from you, Surur, I know you’re out there): What can we do differently to make this site better? More bluntly, how can we get more pageviews and most specifically and importantly how can we improve visitor loyalty? What can we give you to make you want to come back for more?

And for you RSS readers, do you agree with me that only giving you the excerpts, which we do because some of us actually think that will build traffic better than giving you the full articles) is ultimately not helpful to us at this point? Any tips on getting admitted to Google News? The theme, cool or whack? Too many game and iPad case “review” and press release copypasta articles versus the stuff I write or do you like the balance? Recommend any widgets? Do you want more wild opinion bits, more reports on what the analysts just said,  do you think this slideshow C’mon fellas, gimme something. Even something crazy, like writing everything, every single letter on this site including the logo and site title that shows up on Google (sometimes), in lowercase. Let loose.

Here, I’ll start. The most common non-mobile screen resolution amongst you people is 768 pixels vertically, yet on the front page the first headline after that slideshow “featured article” thing doesn’t appear for 1000 pixels. That sounds stupid to me, almost like whoever was involved in implementing that didn’t check the screen resolution section on Google Analytics. Is the junk up top actually good enough to warrant making visitors scroll a full page down to see the first most recent article? No, right? Maybe it is, I don’t know. And in case you were wondering, the second most common non-phone resolution hitting us is 1920×1080. People, go 16:10 please, thank me later.

Doug Simmons

23 COMMENTS

  1. I loved 16:10 while it was the norm. /sigh
    I visit here from all 3, phone, pc and ipad (which will become a Win 8 pad at some point)

  2. I wonder why the Chinese let Androids in knowing that they are google spy phones?

    Win8 is King. I see more OEMs are going with,just copy Nokia.

  3. I see this site as more of an op-ed than a news site. If you really want more clicks, you need to get more up to date news updates, but frankly, I don’t think that’s your site’s intent. It’s like would you rather be the New York Times or the New Yorker? Sure the NYT has much wider distribution and higher volume, but the New Yorker isn’t any “worse”, it just has a much more targeted audience and more refined voice. Pick your poison.

    my two cents.

    • chuey: It mainly is an op-ed site given that the alternative in your proposed direction is all of the writers subscribing to the RSS feeds of a bunch of other sites and basically spending the time they’d otherwise spend writing original content reblogging news you already get elsewhere. This is not our day job, we don’t have the time or money to get sources to accomplish that, it’s out of reach. The last scoop we had was http://mobilitydigest.com/windows-phone-7-tethers-you-can-do-it-now-heres-how/. On the other hand, I guess you were trying to answer my question on how to get on Google News, and noting that we’re not cranking out news is a pretty valid point.

      I was asking for help picking our position — for example, would this site be more or less interesting if we mixed in more Google, Android and general tech stuff that had nothing to do with Windows Phone, or if we want to see the traffic head north should we stay put as a mainly Microsoft-centric site with almost the same concentration of WP news here as on sites like WMPoweruser?

  4. Keep mixing it up, I have a Lumia 900 & a Nexus7 and I like to know what I am missing on both ends.

  5. Okay take this as an example:

    mobilitydigest.com/yes-were-witnessing-another-bungled-windows-phone-rollout

    That article received more traffic on the day it was posted than any other article we’ve ever done I believe. Just an opinion piece about Microsoft doing a mediocre job marketing this product. I wouldn’t call that either a scoop or an out-on-a-limb contraversial editorial. No porn either that I could find. So why all the traffic? Are there any lessons for us to learn from that article or was it just a fluke?

  6. Most of the time I come here from the Windows Phone News app… If it shows up and looks interesting then I click.. Btw the link to this article from Windows Phone News is dead.

  7. Yay Simmons! (Wait, did I say that?)

    I’d LOVE to see more Android and iOS stuff, but WE NEED WRITERS! I don’t have either (okay, well, I have a Kindle Fire – does that count?), so bleah. I kind of keeping an eye out to see if anyone I know (friends, family) replace something and will just give me their old device just so I can check ’em out, but nothing yet. But if I bring an iThing into the house, I need to get an older machine working. I am NOT putting iTunes on my daily driver. iTunes on Windows is a P.O.S.

    All of us have day jobs, so our strength is in op-ed. I started reading the site because it wasn’t dry: the articles were friendly, personal, casual.

  8. Hey, you asked for my advice, and I am happy to give it. Getting on Google News is cool, but does not generate much traffic. You need to apply for it – listing influential stories that has been linked to by others is about all it takes. There are some technical requirements, for example the heading on the top of your page should not link to the same page (as it does on this case) as it sends Google’s bots into a loop. You also need to have a valid About page with the full names of the writers, a privacy policy etc.

    Regarding traffic in general – if you cant be massive you need to be focussed on your niche – If you dont provide a better service than Engadget or the Verge there is no point in being a generalist. If you concentrate on your niche it can be pretty easy to be the best in the whole wide internet for your particular niche. The problem of course is that the smaller the niche, the smaller the potential traffic – its a catch 22, but one that every site has to navigate. If you are loyal to your reader’s interests they will be loyal to you.

    MD does a great job at getting stories. You are on my short list of about 10 sites in my Great Sources list. Obviously you need to do a better job at letting the world know about this – make sure to tip sites like the verge, engadget, gizmodo when you come across something fresh.

    Regarding the short RSS excerpts – I tried it ones, got a huge number of complaints (unfairly really as WPC does the same) and went back to the full summary. It did not really generate any significant traffic increase.

    Lastly I know aggregation sites are looked down on, but the biggest sites are all aggregation sites, including the Verge, Huffington Post, Engadget, Gizmodo etc. Filtering and processing news and adding context is an important service which is not as easy as it sounds. If those sites do not do it, how would the average reader get their info?

    I could not give you a formula for success, but I could say at WMPU we focus on serving the interests of our readers, and if your current readers want windows phone, it seems unhelpful to force Android news on them, which would likely drive them away. Because our readers are generally Microsoft fans, we are adding Windows 8 news, which is consistent with their interests and actually adds traffic vs subtracting it.

    Hope thats helpful.

    • > Hope thats helpful.

      Helpful.. Surur I sent up a flare in the right direction and you delivered not just good advice (at least it sounds good) for us but for any readers of this site who might be trying to get their own show on the road, or are simply curious what does or should go into it. I’d like to turn your comment into an article, but then you’d get peppered with responses inviting you to respond further, and you’ve got your hands full so I’ll settle for this here. Thank you; we’re taking close note.

      Also, stepping back from the bigger picture stuff, I’m glad we see eye to eye on RSS excerpts. Hey fellas can we please stop clowning around with that crap? There may be sites in a position to leverage traffic out of that tactic — we’re not one of them, got a little ways to go first.

  9. Just on a visual point of view, im no techy but I’ve got an eye for style and the general layout of your site is good. But one small detail puts me off, the red coloured headings. They are not friendly to look at, reminds me of a first aid booklet. Try silver or grey. You want your headings to stand out but not to scream at me like a red faced school teacher :)

  10. Also your logo is red and blue, they are naturally two rival colours then there is that yellow divider…not good to look at. Change that logo into something modern and cool to look at. When I look on a website, it has to draw me in with its look and how it feels. Bit like when you see a beautiful woman, all you are attracted to at first are her looks and then if your lucky you find out what’s underneath that beauty…catch my drift??

    • I do. It’s a step in the right direction from the last time I had checked out the site, but I think a quick conversion of the logo and other colors to greyscale is worth a test.

  11. Doug —

    I don’t believe you aren’t counting my visits, because your batteryboss domain is blocked by our Websense firewall.

    And I am not really a fan of your truncated feed, simply because it’s too short for me to figure out if I really want to click over. Add more to the summary if that’s the direction you’re headed.

    • Websense blocking batteryboss, huh? I guess the world just cannot handle the truth about milliamp hours. Curious what other domains you encountered at work that were blocked, might be revealing about you Ike.

      Now I don’t think anyone’s a fan of the truncated feed, except if I recall David K. Hey Ramon, how about a decision on this? I’m telling you, it’s not doing us any favors. Hell I might even unsubscribe.

  12. You obviously can’t take criticism of your site, you asked for advice and it is very rude not to reply to all of it. Won’t find me reading your articles anytime soon

    • > you asked for advice and it is very rude not to reply to all of it.

      Woah hallam easy man, I can take criticism, that’s what I do in most of the articles I write, and the whole purpose of my writing this article was to collect criticism in order to help us make a better site.

      Note that this isn’t my day job, nor is it my site; I’m one of a ragtag bunch contributing to it, and the others read this article and the comment thread as well. I didn’t catch all the comments but came back now to do that, any other articles of mine with comments and time allowing comments on articles written by others.

      > Won’t find me reading your articles anytime soon

      That’s a uniquely disproportionate reaction hallam, cut me some slack. My articles are generally pretty good. And thanks for your input.

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