Build Internet 2009: The Year in Review
Happy New Year everyone.
This time last year, Sam and I were excited to get the blog off and rolling. We started towards the very end of November, but December was the first full month in operation. Hard to believe that we’re already here a year later.
Build Internet was started as a way for Sam and I to share our passion for web design, but also as a way to build a community around learning the industry. In today’s world, web designers have to be some of the most multi-talented people out there. It’s a careful combination of business, networking, and web trends that keeps the internet rolling.
We’ve tried to keep the blog’s first year growth transparent with our monthly reviews, and the results leave us plenty to be thankful for. Build Internet has continued a steady climb in both numbers and involvement the entire year. Just this past month we breached 8K RSS subscribers for the first time, and 2010 will hopefully bring an even larger community to the site. Which kind of community we build is entirely up to the readers.
Fun Facts and Trivia
I liked how Walter did his one year post at WDD, so we’ll take some inspiration for this next part:
- This blog is run by twin brothers Zach (hello!) and Sam Dunn of One Mighty Roar.
- Sam and I are currently in our third year at the University of Hartford. We are 20 years old.
- A good day of traffic is above 15K pageviews.
- Our single day traffic record was on August 24th, 2009 with 57K pageviews.
- The most popular post of 2009 was Sam’s jQuery tutorial Sliding Boxes and Captions.
- Weekends get roughly 60% of our normal numbers, both in search results and traffic. Holidays have the same effect.
- Posts are made daily during the summer and (most) breaks from school.
- Ideally we aim for 2 to 3 posts per week and 8 to 10 per month.
- 178 posts have been made in the past year. This is #179.
- Build Internet was “Site of the Night” in net@night Episode 114 with Amber MacArthur and Leo Laporte.
- 18 of those posts are from 8 different guest authors.
- Zach has written 112 posts, and Sam is trailing with a meager 47… not that anyone’s counting.
- We’re often hired to implement variations of our tutorials.
- Build Internet has been redesigned three times. Round four is coming up soon.
- We’ve been interviewed twice on separate design blogs.
- Our inboxes get several hundred emails per week due to Build Internet. We’ve gotten good at being concise.
- Build Internet has ~5.5K Twitter followers, and 8.1K RSS subscribers.
- We’ve been on the Digg homepage once.
- Mashable named us one of 85 designers to follow on Twitter.
- We’ve stopped leading post titles in order to separate ourselves from generic lists. (e.g. 674 examples of…)
- Our least favorite comments are from people who clearly didn’t read the article.
- Our favorite comments are from readers solving each other’s problems.
- Build Internet was the first blog in the One Mighty Roar network. The Nonsense Society launched soon after, and Officeal this past summer. You Rather was a different kind of project launched Fall ’09.
Evolution of a Theme
The design you’re looking at today is the result of a long road of revisions. This screenshot below is a first draft of Build Internet’s initial theme:
After launching with a version similar to the gray and green shot above, Sam revised it with a slightly more colorful logo and redesign. This design took a bland theme and added some design flair.
In March 2009, the third (and current) major revision went live. The design and thought process was outlined in an announcement post.
The Upcoming Redesign
The next revision will address a problem with the current trend of blog layouts. Not all posts are created equal. In most modern design blogs, all posts created are automatically listed chronologically in one column. This sends a message to the reader that “All of this is the same”. There is no real way to post “secondary” content (e.g. inspiration, round-ups) without polluting the content-heavy posts.
Due to recent controversy about substance in the design community, we’re re-evaluating some of our regular content. We’ve put giveaways and contests (for the most part) on hold indefinitely. Build Internet’s next design will try to fix this, and open up possibilities for a wider variety of posts without alienating certain readers.
The Year in Traffic
The long tail of blogging held true for Build Internet this year. With almost 200 posts available, the average traffic per day continued to rise. Dips occurred over holidays and weekends. The chart below is our week-to-week pageview analysis.
Let’s Go, 2010!
Sam and I have had a great opening year in blogging, and we couldn’t be more excited to get rolling in 2010. One thing we’re already planning to implement is an increase in guest posts, including options for actual pay. We’re convinced that the key to building any successful community is participation, and with the amount that we’ve learned from our readers this year is astounding. You’re bright people, and we’d love to see you share it in a post or two.
Have any advice or recommendations for our 2010 plans? Please let us know how we can serve the web design community better in the comments below.
Happy New Year,
Zach & Sam Dunn
Fireworks photo from monkeyc.net under Creative Commons.