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24 December 2015

Merry Christmas from the New Statesman website – and some nerdy stats

What happened on the New Statesman website this year. 

By Helen Lewis

So this is Christmas. And what have we done? Well, quite a lot, actually. As you will have noticed, this year we redesigned the New Statesman website, introducing new pages for Long Reads and the magazine, streamlining our subscriptions process and using bigger, bolder photographs throughout the site. The relaunch drastically increased the average time on site, and the number of pages per visit, and we have since recorded more than 20 million monthly pageviews between the NS and Citymetric.com. 

We also launched a new podcast, SRSLY, hosted by Caroline Crampton and Anna Leszkiewicz, to cover all things pop culture. Anna, who started the year as editorial assistant, ends it as our pop culture writer; congratulations to her on the promotion, and welcome to her successor, India Bourke. SRSLY is fast catching up to the main New Statesman podcast in popularity, and the Christmas episode – featuring several of the web team debating Love, Actually – is another barnstormer. We’ll be updating the format of the main NS podcast in the new year, so if you have any complaints/requests/suggestions, drop me a line

The year’s most read articles are, once again, an eclectic bunch. The list is topped by Kate Mossman’s extraordinary profile of Terence Trent D’Arby, which became a worldwide viral hit and ended up nudging very close to three million page views. Its success is a testament to the power of the internet to get great writing the audience it deserves. 

In second place was Karen Armstrong’s 2014 essay on Wahhabism, the extreme form of Islam that dominates Saudi Arabia, and its connections to the global rise of Isis (Daesh). In fact, world affairs dominates our top ten, with Slavoj Zizek on terrorism, Yanis Varoufakis on Greece’s economic humiliation and John Gray on the political failures behind famines also present. Third place, however, goes to Anna Leszkiewicz’s biting criticism of the tastemakers who only fully appreciated Taylor Swift when her songs were sung by a man, which was read by more than three-quarters of a million people around the world. Two other web desk members made the top ten: Jonn Elledge, who applied data journalism to the monarchy, and Stephanie Boland, who wrote about the stigma surrounding depression

I’ve blathered on for several years about our discovery that the website and magazine complement each other, rather than compete, and that was obvious this year. In the run-up to the election, the print magazine was able to provide longer, considered reflections on the shifting plates of British politics, while the website covered the granular details. And unlike Yvette Cooper, Andy Burnham and Liz Kendall, our Staggers editor Stephen Bush had a very good leadership election – he was the first person to identify the Corbyn surge (a phenomenon that was initially dismissed by some lobby grandees) and his updated tally of CLP nominations took on the qualities of a hypnotic, hallucinatory piece of performance art. 

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Looking under the bonnet, our readers were – as you’d expect – largely from Britain, then America. Most of our visitors use Chrome (a fine choice), followed by Safari (desktop and mobile), Firefox and Internet Explorer. 

Browser types used to access the NS – dark blue is Chrome; green and orange are Safari, yellow is Firefox; light blue is Internet explorer; everything else is crazy people. (Amazon Silk????)

 

Relaunching our website allowed for a fully responsive design, which is great because as this chart shows, mobile and tablet usage now account for almost as many sessions as desktop:

That’s desktop clinging on at 50.2%, followed by mobile (green) and tablet (orange).

 

And finally, the new site’s updated design has also improved our search performance, although social remains our biggest source of traffic (we have around 120,000 followers on both Facebook and Twitter):

 

What are our plans for next year? Well, web editor Caroline Crampton would probably like a small lie-down in a darkened room after managing the day-to-day process of our redesign (ably assisted by our development team Sam, Chris, Zoltan and Iciar, and Advert Whisperer Cameron), but she’s not allowed one. In the New Year, we will be guilt-tripping those of you who use AdBlocker, relaunching our newsletters and continuing to refine and update the site. But for now, we are retiring to a bunker made from Quality Street until Boxing Day. Merry Christmas!