It’s easy to look at stats and admire them, dissect them, highlight potential opportunities, perhaps some weaknesses… but i find that’s a bit too easy. For me, i view stats as another form of reward and punishment.
If stats are up on last month – it’s a reward. If they’re down, it’s punishment. What goes up, must come down but keeping stats rising in an overall trend is very important to me. I suppose it’s visible reward for largely invisible work.
A user will see a site and they’ll see content but they don’t see thought, passion, creativity, time / money spent on it etc… working on a site daily or even weekly for no financial reward might seem strange to some, however it’s not always about the money, especially if you’re trying to build a site long term.
We associate rewards with cash, but they can come in many different disguises for a website… an article going viral on social media sites, higher rankings in search engines, year on year traffic growth, ‘x’ amount of members, ‘x’ amount of comments…. the list goes on.
Here’s a good example of the type of reward i’m talking about… (theleavingcert.com stats)
It’s comparing stats from 1st January – 25th January this year (2010) to the same period last year. Look at the growth… i revamped theleavingcert.com in early january 2010 and there has been a visible improvement in stats since (by the way the drops in the graph are at weekends when students seem to slack off *shock horror*)
Not only is traffic up, but the average time spent on the site has gone up over 50% and the other stats paint a similar rosey picture. This in turn acts as my reward for the revamp and also motivation to keep the hard work up.
Whilst it’s easy to manipulate stats (i could just copy past articles from a rival site and auto submit them to social networking sites to temporarily inflate traffic), generally an upward trend means the site is growing and being looked after. The trick everyone wants to know of course is how do you sustain growth and keep motivated / keep moving forward, but you can’t move a site forward if you have no site to move forward with and that’s where most people fall down. Ideas and thoughts remain locked in your head because of the fear they won’t work / you can’t make them work.