Thank You (2015 Edition)

GOSH! Don't the years roll by fast? It's that time of year to say "Thank you!" I am grateful for the CSS-Tricks community: you read, help me, and help each other be better at our craft. It is each of you that has made this site what it is today. We get mushy on you every year, if you're keeping track.

Statistics

72 million pageviews this year, definitely a record-breaking traffic year! I'm not sure that number has ever been particularly useful, but I have a lot of historical data on it and haven't fundamentally changed how the site loads pages since the beginning, so it's interesting to watch. In 2014 pageviews did go up over 2013, but only by a very little. This year's jump from 67 to 72 is a stronger rate of growth, which is 👍. Perhaps slightly more interesting than pageviews are Google Analytics Sessions (up to 51,295,017 from 40,669,356 last year) and Users (up to 21,006,594 from 17,052,187 last year).

I guess we kinda earned it, as we posted 378 posts this year, which is exactly 100 more than last year. Nice little bump in publishing volume. Of course, we are not aiming toward a high quantity of posts; but, more on that later.

The source of traffic is 86% from search. 5% direct, 5% referral, and 4% social media. StackOverflow leads the referrals with about a 1/4 of them. Ironically, despite exerting a decent amount of time and energy on social media, and it's the smallest source of traffic to CSS-Tricks. That said, we like the social media communities and their conversations are fun and fundamentally useful.

Commenting activity is down. 5,864 comments on blog posts this year (for a total of for a total of 79,836) down from 8,920 last year and 11,000 the year before that. Even forum activity is down with 2,440 new topics posted compared to 4,020 last year and 9,420 replies to those topics down from 20,120. These statistics seems to align with other digital publications like ours. There still is plenty of discussion here, but a bit less of it. Conversations happen all over the place these days and, it seems to me, more privately.

Generally, conversations are happening on social media sites. @Real_CSS_Tricks on Twitter gained 90,000 followers, up to 250,000 this year from 160,000 last year. That's such a huge boost that I think some Twitter algorithm somewhere heavily suggests it, as we don't do much promotion to support that account. Facebook says 59k Likes. I don't have a number for last year, so we'll have to track that growth next year.

Most of our traffic comes from within the United States, but it's less than a quarter of the pie at 24%. The next largest source is traffic from India at 11%, then the UK at 7%, then Germany and Canada at 4% each. Then the list goes on and on at 2% and less countries. CSS-Tricks is a very international site!

Our mobile traffic numbers are so strange on CSS-Tricks. We were at 6% in 2013, then 3% in 2014, and 4% in 2015. Apparently we are just not a site that sees a heck of a lot of mobile action.

We received 1,621 messages from the contact form.

I recorded 8 (free) video screencasts, an amount up from the 5 that I made last year.

I didn't manage to get a new course done for The Lodge this year. Instead, we launched Office Hours (a new part of The Lodge) which is like live videos (that you can watch in real time and ask questions and stuff, more on that later). We did 59 sessions with 7 different teachers. There are 42 Lodge Members who have joined our Slack channel which has been a source of good conversation and resources.

Five Most Popular Popular Pages

  1. A Complete Guide to Flexbox
  2. Perfect Full Page Background Images
  3. Media Queries for Standard Devices
  4. Using SVG
  5. Smooth Scrolling

Milestones

A few:

  1. Staffing up! This is the first year CSS-Tricks has been a full team including part-time writers. Huge thanks is also in order for Sara Cope, Dee Gill, Sarah Drasner, Geoff Graham, Rob MacKay, Marie Mosley, Robin Rendle, Lara Schenck, Rob Wierzbowski. We even have our first alumni now: Andy Adams.
  2. Office Hours! As I mentioned above, this is a new area of The Lodge. Ultimately, the idea is to create more opportunities for our community to find help. We should note, we are still developing and evolving the formatting of Office Hours. In the coming year, we plan to do more code-pairing-style videos where one person actively teaches another. I imagine that we'll release some of them free and most of them as a members-only perk of The Lodge.
  3. A minor one: We consolidated the Shop. We got it running on WooCommerce and made it the store for CodePen and ShopTalk too, simplifying things on our end.

Goal Review

Invest a lot more back into the site.

Did it. There is a legit payroll at this site now. And as a result, more output and more traffic. This allows me to keep focused on CodePen while this site is in good hands.

Business is business.

Did it. 90%+ of the income of this site is through advertising. I think we've struck a nice balance of having advertising and being honest and tasteful about it. At least that's how I feel, you're the real judge. We do three things:

  • A primary sponsor. This year it will be Media Temple, which is fantastic because I really do both use and recommend them for web hosting.
  • Sponsored posts. Sold through Syndicate Ads, They happen at most once a week and only for companies that I personally approve and do an audio endorsement for.
  • Display ads. The handful of which are sold through BuySellAds.

From my perspective: nothing dishonest, no "tracking" or other bogus JavaScript, nothing overwhelming, yet enough to sustain the site.

Travel should be fun.

Mostly did it. I'm still feeling a little over-traveled and even though I'm trying to scale back on conference speaking, traveling for CodePen-related stuff is going to increase. I'll probably just need to come to terms with travel rather than fight it.

New Goals

  • Develop new and strong reference material for the CSS-Tricks community. It's obvious from analytics and feedback that the posts developed to be deeply focused on a subject that is immediately relevant and a directly important subject in our field, your attention to them makes our efforts worth the time. So, more of that.
  • More focus on the developing "the voice" of CSS-Tricks. While the pageview volume of our site has increased significantly, and there are many more individual voices publishing to it, I want to make sure the overall tone and voice of CSS-Tricks maintains the the traits that we value: kindness, thoughtfulness, always be helpful, understanding, and have the we're all in this thing together consistent feel.

To Infinity

I'm a lucky guy.

It makes me feel so good when you all take the time to tell me how useful this site has been to you, that you refer to its content often, that you found a career for yourself, that some of you have changed the trajectory of your professional lives: your sentiments contain some pretty powerful stuff.

I say the same back to you: this site, through you, has given me everything. Cheers and happy new year.