Why We Care
Before we throw the numbers out, you might wonder why we agonize so over charts, graphs and tables like we do. First of all, these numbers give us some feedback about the job we're doing covering KU sports and providing a discussion forum for you - the Kansas fan. If we see our traffic diminish (God forbid) or not grow at a reasonable rate, we know we've got issues to resolve. You'll see that we're pretty darned happy with our traffic growth.
In addition to giving us general feedback on the job we're doing, this data can also give us feedback in technical areas of interest: What days of the week and hours of the day are the busiest / least busy (used for scheduling outages and making site upgrades)? What browser (and version) is the most popular? How many of you are using PCs and how many are using Macs? What link did you click to get to our site? What Search Engine gave you the link, and what keywords did you use to find us? All of this data (and more) are available to us in real time. This data is not only useful from a technical standpoint, but it's also useful from a marketing perspective, as well.
For the purposes of this end of year wrap-up, let's look at three areas of interest in measuring our site traffic: page views, visitor and member statistics, and referrers. Plus, we'll throw in a few other tidbits about our customers that we have learned.
The term, "page views" is a good measure of raw site traffic. It represents just how busy the servers are that provide the latest information to you about KU sports. A "page view" is just that - an indication that you clicked on a link (or bookmark) that took you to a page on our website or message board, and that page was displayed in your browser for you.
If you click on a link to our home page, http://www.phog.net, by doing so you have increased our monthly page view total by one. Additionally, if you click on three topics on our message board to read, whether they have one or twenty posts in each one, you have increased our page view count by three (one for each topic opened). A "threaded" message board (like some of our peer fans sites use) will rack up gaudy page view numbers faster than we will, due to the nature of their message board design - each message opened in a topic will get its own page (and page view). In a message board format like the one used on Phog.net, you can display the contents of an entire topic with a single page view.
Even using this conservative measure of site traffic, Phog.net continues to amass some pretty darned amazing stats of its own.
Here is hopefully a clear illustration of just how much our raw traffic has
grown on The Phog.
Our December 2001 value for monthly page views was just over 600,000, and just one year later, our December 2002 numbers are in at over 1,300,000 page views - representing a more than 100% increase in our site traffic and possibly a new monthly page view record! (As of this writing, the month is not quite over yet.) That's more page views than we got during March / April 2001 (in our Final Four run), and possibly even more page views than we received during the great David Padgett / Omar Wilkes Recruiting Saga that we went through back in October of 2002.
Needless to say, Phog.net is still growing, and growing rapidly. Not to get into another discussion regarding joining TheInsiders Network, but the stats are showing that the connections the network has with Yahoo and other publishers around the network are making a difference in the number of folks that are discovering Phog.net, and the great content that Julie Jamison and the rest of the team (including Dave Telep, Tracy Pierson, David Garvin and others) are providing will help keep coming back once they discover what Phog.net can deliver to Kansas fans. [Exhales. What a sentence, huh?]
That's the raw data on site traffic. Now what?
Visitors and Their Members
How many people visit Phog.net? Somewhere between 30,000 and 90,000 people pull up a chair and sit a spell here on The Phog every month. Sweet, huh? Here's more. Between 20,000 and 80,000 of these visitors are visiting Phog.net for the very first time! A lot of these folks aren't KU fans and are likely the fans of another school, but next time these folks need or want to know what's going on at KU, they'll be back. In March 2002, thanks to our Final Four run, we had over 83,000 first-time visitors to Phog.net. Thanks, guys.
In addition to tracking first-time visitors, we also track the number of different, either first time or repeat visitors, that visit our site. During 2002, that number varied between 36,000 and 94,000 folks each month. We would love to get to six digits for a monthly total sometime in 2003.
Beyond tracking "visitors" to our site, how about members on our message board? There has been a change here, and it's worth discussing.
Our previous message board had accumulated nearly 7,000 registered members. A very strong number for a fan site, indeed. When we moved to TheInsiders Network, these memberships were uploaded to the network database, and e-mails went out to these members with instructions on how to access their new accounts on TheInsiders Network message boards. The process to get access to your new account was a bit confusing, and there have been some issues with specific usernames, but we've been working through those with the individual users affected.
Further, the manner that the EZBoard message board displays the "number" of users on Phog.net is a bit different than our previous board. Our previous message board displayed the total number of users in our database (6,700 or so), but our EZBoard software current in use for Phog Net Talk only displays the number of users that have actually posted to our board. Since we moved to our new message board home here on TheInsiders Network a little over two weeks ago, over 1,000 of our members have posted on our board in that two week timeframe. An amazing number in itself!
We know the vast majority of our customers are lurkers (don't post), and we're very happy that we have been able to entice that many of you into posting. (If you have not yet posted, please seek out one of the "Roll Call" threads and at least make a test post, please.) I only bring this whole topic of this board vs. that board up for one reason. I have recently turned on the display of registered users on the front page of our board, and I just wanted to assure you that we didn't lose our previous user base, it is just being displayed a bit differently now. As the number of registered users that actually post grows, you'll see that registered number grow once again into the gaudy number that we were all so proud of.
Odds and Finally - An End
Here are a few bits of trivia that only the true addict can appreciate.
- Here's the single most popular referring page to Phog.net: http://sports.yahoo.com/ncaab/teams/kaa/ So far in December 2002, 855 visitors have discovered Phog.net from clicking a link on that page.
- The single most popular search engine on the Internet used to find Phog.net is Yahoo. It isn't even close. 63% of the search engine hits we get (at the end of 2002) come from Yahoo, and the next closest competitor is Google at just over 15%.
- 76% of you are using Microsoft Internet Explorer to access our site. About 13% of our customers use Netscape.
- Most of you (for some unknown, freakish reason) are running Windows 98 (31%), and the rest of the more popular operating systems fall in like this: Windows 2000 (28%), Windows NT (8%), Windows ME (8%), Windows 95 (6%), and the Mac (4.25% and increasing). We've got data on the rest of the world running Windows 3.x, various flavors of UNIX, and whatever else, but y'all are pretty much off the radar. Heck, there's even one guy that hit our site with his Amiga this year!
- Screen resolution: 800 X 600 pixels was the most popular resolution in 2002, with 1024 X 768 hot on its heels. More recent (December) data suggest that some of you are moving to larger monitors and have now made 1024 X 768 the more popular screen resolution. And by the way, which one of you is running at 640 X 433? Come on, pal. Upgrade that thing!
- Phog.net was read in 68 different countries this year, with Canada and Portugal(?) immediately following the U.S. as our most popular visiting countries.
Alright, we could go on about 2002 in terms of traffic and customer info. Just a note about where we're going. Thanks to you folks, we think the sky is the limit for Phog.net.
Obviously, the Men's Basketball Program at Kansas is generating the most interest on our site, and will continue to do so in the forseeable future. If you look at the job our kids are doing on the hardwood, you'll know there will be a frenzy of activity starting soon when the conference race heats up in the Big 12, let alone the media event that is the NCAA Basketball Tournament. Plus, we continue to be a contender for another good shot at the Final Four and that elusive national championship ring for KU.
Remember that stellar recruiting class that Coach Williams landed this fall? They'll arrive in Lawrence this summer, and we can start all over again.
In addition to the hoops interest fueling Phog.net's continued growth, Coach Mangino has the football program in an improving state, and that's also driving our gridiron traffic upwards. Dave Garvin will be providing the latest info moving into the ever-important month of January for football recruiting, and you know the recruiting class that Mangino is putting together will have the message boards humming leading into the Spring.
Again, thanks to all of you that visit and support Phog.net, and the Phog.net Team promises to keep busting our tails to make this site the best it can be. As one poster said, and said it well, it's all for the love of the game.
I'll shutup now, and I won't even mention our upcoming print magazine. (Oops.)
Update: January 2, 2003
Phog.net sets new monthly page view record in December 2002, with 1,412,853 page views.