We launched May2015 six months ago with high hopes and low expectations. The idea, pitched by me to the New Statesman in early 2014, was to be the dedicated site for all the data you might want on the election – from polls and predictions to daily analysis and regular features.
Jason Cowley and Helen Lewis, editor and deputy editor of the New Statesman, greenlit the project and gave Tom Monk and me free reign to experiment. Tom is the site’s head of data and development. He built everything you see on May2015, from the basic layout to our 45-year‘Poll of Polls’ tracker and custom-made election-forecasting machine. He didn’t just code the site, he’s responsible for all the maths behind our models.
We launched on 9 September after two months of development. We spent the first two months muddling through; we were well-received but few people read us and we weren’t sure what to focus on from morning to morning.
This month we had nearly a quarter of a million pageviews on our homepage and two main data pages.
Then over time we started to add more to the site with the guidance of Charles Morris, who came on board as executive editor. We added a map; redesigned our homepage – building a slider that would take you through all our data in one go; and started two big partnerships: one with Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research to bring you‘The Drilldown’ and another with theIndependent to host our ‘Poll of Polls’ on all of their politics coverage.
Now, six months after launch, we’re excited to have become one of the go-to sites for the election. In the past month we’ve had nearly a quarter of a million pageviews on our homepage and two main data pages (our ‘Poll of Polls’ and ‘Seat Calculator’).
And we’ve had nearly 400,000 pageviews overall.  That’s up six-fold on our average monthly readership in 2014.
People are also reading our actual journalism – we’ve had nearly 120,000 pageviews for our pieces in our past month, or around 4,000 per day.
Much of that is thanks to our guest contributors, of whom we’ve had more than 50 since launch. They have helped us publish 251 pieces in the past six months; that’s about 10-a-week, or two-a-day (May2015 covers polls but is otherwise quiet on weekends). Ian Jones and Anoosh Chakelian have been two of our most regular writers.
Our readers like to read our pieces for at least a couple of minutes, and read our features for twice as long – whether interviews with leading politicians, longreads by top academics or constituency features by NS staff. Our most read piece in the past month was our look at how “Politically, the UK is now five nations.” That’s had 15,000 views so far.
People like to stick around on May2015. As pageviews to our ‘Seat Calculator’ page have increased, the time people spend exploring our election machine hasn’t fallen – it’s risen. People spend almost 4 minutes on the page each time they visit, and it attracted nearly 100,000 pageviews in the past month.
Time per visit is one of the metrics we care most about. At a time when visits to most websites are becoming shorter and shorter, our ambition was always to be a site with lots of engagement. Our ‘Seat Calculator’ is at the heart of that, and people have now clicked on a seat scenario, explored polls from the past or made their own election prediction nearly a million times since September.
‘The Drilldown’, our data tool which breaks down the past five years of polling by age, class, gender and party ID, has also proved popular: it has hundreds of views every day.
Overall our numbers are small compared to any major publisher, but May2015 runs on a budget of less than £30,000. We hope you’ve enjoyed the site so far, and will continue to over the coming months.
 That’s not including all the very short pageviews you get from a website with infinite scroll, or any of the hits we get from being part of the Independent’s political coverage.
Harry Lambert is the founder and editor of May2015.