Is anybody reading this? Tweak your WordPress home page to get better traffic data. [Part 2 of 2]

This is part two of a two-part series on improving WordPress blog traffic statistics. In Part 1 I explained how to set the RSS feed settings to drive users from an RSS reader to your site. In Part 2, I explain how to use the “more” tag in WordPress to drive users from your home page to the specific post.

Many WordPress blogs are set up to show a few to dozens of full posts on the blog’s home page.  This seemingly makes it easier for readers to read the last several posts without adding another “click” to dig deeper into the site.

But if a user scans through the posts, reading some and ignoring others, there is no way to indicate which posts he found useful. By tweaking your WordPress home page, you can dramatically improve your website traffic statistics.

Read More

Is anybody reading this? Tweak WordPress RSS settings to get better traffic data. [Part 1 of 2]

This is part one of a two-part series on improving WordPress blog traffic statistics.

If you blog for any reason beyond self-reflection (i.e., talking to yourself), you’re probably interested in how many readers you get. You may be a professional blogger looking to gather data to garner sponsors or advertisers or you may blog on a social enterprise platform and are looking to “demonstrate an ROI” for your blogging efforts (these are the folks I work with). Either way, one simple tweak of the WordPress subscription (RSS) settings can dramatically improve your website traffic statistics.

Read More

Rethinking data with context and effective visualization

If there’s one thing I learned from three years of statistics in college, it’s this:

Statistics can be fashioned to say anything.

The TED talk below is by David McCandless in which he highlights the power of effective data visualization and data context. For me, one of the turning points in his presentation was when he displayed the following two charts comparing the military budgets of countries around the world:

Read More

Social media blackout at Harrisburg U? Bad idea…

Some ideas are just plain bad.

According to Inside Higher Ed, the provost of Harrisburg University of Science and Technology (in Harrisburg, PA) is pulling the plug on popular social media sites for one week at his college. This “experiment” – I use the term loosely as he has no control or defined parameters – is intended to find out…what, exactly?

For a school centered around technology and at which social media is wholeheartedly embraced and used, this seems like an odd activity to pursue. In addition, the provost chose to block the following sites: Facebook, AIM, Twitter, and Myspace. In addition, he has ordered the collaborative functionality of the internal learning management system to be disabled.

W.T.H.? (what the heck?)

I’m by no means alone in my confusion about this story. A writer at Crunchgear offers these observations on why this study is doomed to fail:

  • Smartphones. “ Provost surely recognizes that much of the social web is accessible via smartphone, and text messages have largely replaced instant messenger applications”
  • Filter failure. “…blocking all social access…isn’t really even possible except by eliminating internet access altogether.”

In addition, I’ve come up with just a few more reasons to abandon this useless study:

  • Ethics. How often do you hear of experiments where the “test subjects” do not give their consent?
  • Out of touch. Why choose those social networks? If recent surveys are any indication, kids don’t use Twitter, Facebook is rapidly becoming passé, and MySpace is basically moot. And AIM? Really?!
  • Productivity. By disabling the Moodle learning management system, the Provost is taking away effective work tools…and during the beginning of the semester when communication and organization is most needed!
  • Disrupting business. You can bet that at a technology-centric college, there are more than a few students who have thriving online businesses. Businesses that probably rely on social media engagement. This “experiment” could negatively impact real-world moneymaking.

What am I missing here? Is there some redemptive aspect of this idea? What other “studies” have you come across that seem to completely miss the mark?

Bait & switch: Microsoft’s free new (lame) cybersecurity ebook for teens

Microsoft, you disappoint me.

I was very excited to come across this post from Lifehacker today announcing a Microsoft’s free cybersecurity ebook. Hooked by the cover graphics (admit it, you are, too!) and reading that it was geared for teens, I quickly followed the link to see how I could begin to share this resource to all my friends and colleagues.

Too bad it was a massive bait-and-switch.

You see, while the cover shows a nicely drawn comic – seemingly promising the same inside the book – the book itself is pages….and pages…and pages….

…of TEXT.

Sure, there’s an occasional sketch thrown in, but I think Microsoft missed a huge opportunity to reach their target audience. Instead of using an engaging comic book (sorry, “graphic novel”) format, they defaulted to what so many critics of PowerPoint bemoan: a mind-numbing enormous tome consisting of text and bullets.

Admittedly, I’ve only skimmed the first chapter, but even that leads me to the conclusion that it’s written for someone with very limited web experience and enjoys reading endless pages of text combined with what seems to be a fairly condescending storyline.

If it isn’t obvious by now, I won’t be sharing this resource beyond this post.

If you happen to like the ebook, however, I’d like to know why in the comments!