Three A.M, Monday morning, an hour when the respectable majority of the country is well into its journey through the land of nod. But while the rest of the UK do the kind of weird things we all do in dreamland I am sitting in the tub wading through the intricacies of my melt.co.uk server stats!
Now admittedly this sounds like the life of a sad techie. However it couldn't be, if for no other reason than Techies aren't famed for taking baths! Mind you it could well be the life of an over worked web designer. Having just finished work on a massive site for the University of Liverpool I was taking a well earned soak in a scorching bath. But nowadays even these moments of relaxation can be filled with work of some form. I usually take a whole pile of articles into the bath with me to read. Today though it was the graphs and pie charts of my graphical server stats. Gripping stuff I'm sure you'll agree.
Okay so server stats don't rate high among most peoples 'must read' list. But I have to watch these stats carefully at the moment so as to better understand the people who visit MELT and its various sub directories. Understanding your traffic is a huge part in any webmasters responsibilities.
So I have decided to share with you some of this, what some webmasters would call, sensitive information. It's not really sensitive stuff. Just little interesting notes and oddities that's all.
For example, you'd think that I'd get most traffic through the melt domain on the weekend or Friday. But no, MELT is hit most on Wednesdays. Followed closely by Tuesday then Friday.
I have had the melt.co.uk domain since may this year (98). Mad Mail, Surf Searcher and my own website all fall under the domain. As do various other sites that I host. However the most popular site under MELT is Mad Mail. It has taken nearly 70 percent of all the traffic to MELT. Following behind by a long way is the simon.jones directory for the simon jones online 98 site, with Surf Searcher catching that up quickly. The Bluecoat Arts Centre has a site under MELT to. It comes fourth in the traffic list. However there is almost nothing there on the site. It's a preliminary page to a site that will be developed later this year. Merseyworld decided to list the Bluecoat page under their Arts section and 100 percent of all the Bluecoat's hits have come from Merseyworld. I have to confess to being surprised by how much traffic Merseyworld bring.
Perhaps with Mad Mail being so popular it's no surprise that a great deal of the traffic MELT gets is from the USA. I can't be entirely sure about how much is from America but I would estimate that about two thirds of the visitors to melt (or melt sites) are from the USA.
Only 10 percent of visitors to MELT sites have been from the UK domain address (.co.uk). This number further goes to promote the idea of mine that Mad Mail and Surf Searcher need to be put into their own domains and hosted Stateside, probably in either New York or Boston.
Just under 5 percent of the traffic has been from educational establishments, most of that being again from American .edu domains. With this traffic from .edu, .sch and .ac.uk all but disappearing through the summer for obvious reasons.
Canada is where the next lot of traffic comes from, however that will probably change soon because Australian surfers are beginning to hit MELT sites in curiously high numbers. Indeed in the later half of last month the amount of traffic from Australia and Singapore was right up there with the .coms and .nets. That is an amazing situation if you think that there are more people in London than the whole of Australia! This trend was reflected in the Mad Mail e-list to. Subscriptions to the mailing list shot up last month with tons of Australian and Singapore domains submitting. I rather think that Mad Mail must have been featured in some form or another. It's interesting to see what other countries have been looking at the sites, and where they are on the list. Right at the bottom with a single hit was someone from the Faroe Islands... wherever they are!
The most requested page (apart from the index pages of Mad Mail, surfsearcher, simon.jones etc) has been a Mad Mail article on stress relief followed a long way back by another Mad Mail article called Job Speak. This page (Meanwhile Back in Reality) is the most popular page under simon.jones followed closely by an honest guide to Merseyside. And here's something amusing. My busty blonde friend Louise leads the hit numbers within my friends directory by an astounding amount... and I mean a REALLY HUGE margin.
July saw the most traffic come through MELT, with a sharp fall in August then an equally dramatic climb in September. Interestingly enough on September 25th the domain was hit three times more than it has ever been hit before. That seems very strange to me because usually you would expect the highs and lows to go in a more sweeping wave than this. However on this day the melt domain appears to have taken a massive amount of requests, then after the 25th it returns to normal? Odd.
Yahoo leads the search engine referrals by a healthy margin but with Looksmart closing in on them in recent months. (Looksmart are looking to become as important on the web as Yahoo and they're are doing a pretty good job of it to.) Infoseek are third ahead of AltaVista and Hotbot.
Netscape lead the browser war as far as MELT is concerned. It's hard to work this one out, but from what I can make out Netscape is overall just a nose ahead of Microsoft's Internet Explorer. However it looks like last month Microsoft's IE4 was ahead, although the overall advantage still lies with Netscape. (I use Netscape 4.5 and I think its the best browser.
And finally, the last bit of boring/interesting trivia is the OS's that surfers are using. As you'd expect Windows 95 leads the way with Windows 98 (or as it should be called Windows 95.2) closing the gap fast. After that comes Windows NT then the Mac OS (PPC). Windows 3.1 is still right up there followed by Mac OS again this time though it's the non Power PC Mac users. Unix is eighth in that list with, get this, Windows CE 9th! Windows CE!!!? And those hardcore Amiga lovers are still out there in force bringing up the rear of the top 10 OS's.
All of this is probably of no interest to you. On the other hand, for me this information is VERY useful. I plan to make some serious changes to the various sites later in the year and I want to learn more about my visitors so I can begin to build the sites more effectively. I also want to push Mad mail into the next gear. The Mad Mail e-list currently has some 2000 members listed but I want to promote the site much more and drive the subscriber list up to five times that amount by the end of next year. Mad Mail has proved to be a success and I plan to use that success to raise the profile of Surf Searcher and the overall brand of MELT.
The drive to push Mad mailers to Surf Searcher has already begun. I'll be interested to see how that goes. If my own little ad campaign within the confines of MELT works then I may look further-a-field in a bold step to promote Mad Mail and as I have said the MELT brand as a whole. We'll see what happens. Maybe it'll work, maybe it won't. Whatever happens, it's all valuable experience in the field and that has to be worth something right?