Thank You (2011 Edition)

Published by Chris Coyier

Hey folks! It's that time of year again where I write a post to say thanks to every person visiting this site. CSS-Tricks is part of my career, so just by virtue of you visiting this site directly helps me.

Like families often send holiday letters to their relatives with a review of their year and the notable things family members have done, I like to write this blog post and review the year at CSS-Tricks through the numbers. (See 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010)

 

I wrote 264 posts in 2011. 107 of those were "link" posts, which I still count because I do some writing along with them.

I crossed the 1,000 post milestone, now with 1,017 posts. That's an average of 15 posts per month since launch in July 2007.

There have been 41,941 approved comments to the site. Which averages out to about 41 comments per post, which I think is just an amazing level of community involvement. No spam in there either. Akismet has blocked 102,977 spam comments. I am still a big fan of featuring and burying comments as a way of rewarding quality comments and hiding not-spam-but-not-helpful comments, which makes the often-long threads easier to read.

The most ever commented post, with 421 comments, was just this month when I asked about internet connection speed. I've been thinking about doing a week or month where I do all opinion-style article and let the comments roll and this kind of participation encourages that.

Comment graph since launch of site (see)

I had 3 big scares this year:

  • One day I woke up to find the forums offline. Turns out it was a problem with how Vanilla forums does things and I nearly decided to sunset the forums as I didn't have time to deal with another big forum migration. Fortunately I was able to patch Vanilla in such a way that this nasty problem can't happen again, and the forums are alive and well.
  • In June, I had some serious performance problems with the site. After tons of troubleshooting, I was able to track it down to my permalink structure in WordPress. This site has 792 "pages" (that's how I do snippets and screencasts) which comes with a serious perfomance penalty when combined with using the /%postname%/ permalink structure in WordPress. I switched away from that and the site was fine. Now that WordPress 3.3 is out, that issue is fixed, and I've switched back.
  • In December, I found out the domain name css-tricks.com was stolen. Fortunately in about a week I was able to get it back.

In April 2011, SurveyMonkey purchased Wufoo (where I work) for $35m. This purchase meant moving to California to work out of the SurveyMonkey office, which in August 2011 I did and am still there now.

The advertising on the site has seen a bit of a shakeup lately. The block of six 125x125px advertisement in the sidebar are gone and replaced with a single advertisement for Treehouse. They also have the header advertisement. It's essentially a full-site sponsorship, like "CSS-Tricks, brought to you by Treehouse." I worried about removing advertisers that were long-time sponsors and friends to CSS-Tricks, but I think this is the correct move for me. It's a net gain financially and more importantly, the advertisements look better and are more integrated into the responsive nature of the site. I still have some spots on BuySellAds and still quite like their service.

Version 9 of this site rolled out this August and then I release and updated navigation and advertising (calling that v9.2) in November 2011. I'm sure there will be a real v10 in 2012, but that work hasn't started yet in earnest. The more the site grows the harder new versions are. I don't want v10 to be just a re-skin, but a more through audit of the experience of each section of the site. Honestly I bet it's Fall 2012 before that happens, but you never know.

Just this past month has broken some traffic records for the site. I'm now seeing over 1 million uniques per month with over 4 million pageviews. I think traffic will continue to grow. I plan to keep doing everything I always have around here, only in addition, work on the gallery and almanac (new very recently), which is just all the more content for people to find and explore.

Of the 38 million pageviews in the whole of 2011, about 30% of it went to demos. 11% went to the snippets area of the site. 4% went to the forums and another 4% to the screencasts. The most popular article was Perfect Full Page Background Images, which wasn't even written this year.

It's a near draw, 51% vs 49% in Returning Vistors vs New Visitor.

55% of traffic comes from search engines, 29% from referral sites, and 16% direct. The most poplar search term is "css tricks" with 2.5% of search traffic followed by "css shadow" with 1%. The top three referral sites are 1) 1stwebdesigner, 2) Smashing Magazine, 3) Web Design Ledger

The RSS feed hit a peak of 82,888 subscribers. It's still growing in number, but interestingly, growth itself has declined. Where we gained 25,000 new subscribers in 2010, we only gained 18,000 this year. I'm still a huge fan of RSS, but I can see how widespread usage of it is impacted by growth of social media use.

I have received 8,329 messages through the Wufoo contact form on this site, 2,844 were from this year (about 8 a day). I respond to the majority of them, unless they are a request for direct help which I unfortunately don't have the time for and instead recommend the forums.

Speaking of the forums, there are 13,233 forum threads. That's just threads, not total posts which I'm sure is many times that. I have numbers of registered users, but unfortunately it's so mired with spam users that number isn't useful. There are five forum moderators that do great work keeping the forums civil, spam-free, and useful. Thanks to Robskiwarrior, TheDoc, Mottie, jamy_za, and TT_Mark.

Goals

I set pretty loose goals for 2011. One I did mention was wanting to do another book, which I failed at. I'll be more specific this year:

  • Actually design more things, become better designer
  • Finish Almanac
  • Release a book or have serious progress on one
  • Produce at least one new round of CSS-Tricks merchandise
  • Release one web app side project
  • Continue same moderate pace of blogging and shooting screencasts while also posting new things to the gallery and snippets.

 

So thanks again folks! Here's to a fantastic 2012 for all of us!