Jul 10 2009

Website Advice: How to Deal with the Summer Slump

Published by at 12:03 pm under Website Design

Here are a few trends about the “summer slump” in internet use.  (Well, when it’s summer in the Northern Hemisphere, anyway).

  • Traffic tends to drop considerably.  In summer, the weather is really nice and people have things to do besides sit inside with a computer.  So don’t get depressed if your numbers drop during the summer; it happens to pretty much everyone.
  • Regular readers will probably comprise a larger share of your readership than they do outside of summer. In non-summer months, about 30% of our readers are returning visitors.  In the summer, that jumped to 51%.
  • Because it’s harder to lure in new readers, direct traffic will probably become more prominent. In a non-summer month, our audience split 16-52-32% in terms of how they got to our website: direct traffic, referral and search engine.  Over the summer, it’s been 33-30-37%.

Here are a few tricks you can try to make the most of the summer slowdown.

  1. It’s a great time to experiment with site-design and content. Generally, new readers are the most likely to leave forever if they encounter something they don’t like.  Summer is probably the safest time to experiment because fewer new readers are at stake.  For example, this summer I’d like to try posting some reader-written material.
  2. In particular, I’d recommend trying out some new content aimed at long-time readers. For example, we do a lot of writing contests over the summer.
  3. Think long-term. Fewer readers are at stake in the summer.  So what can you do that will help you when traffic picks up in the fall?  One possible answer is writing “evergreen” content that will lure in readers months and months down the road.  For example, our List of Superpowers is still one of our most-frequented pages.

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