TTAC Site Tweaks: the Return of the Classic Format, Chat and Downtime
When Frank Williams and I launched TTAC’s news blog, we envisioned an editorial gestalt somewhere between Autoblog (dull but worthy) and Jalopnik (wild but wacky). I reckon we nailed it. We’re cranking-out far more (and timelier) hard news than Neff’s product-crazed army, and creating more pithy posts than Spinelli’s electric cool aid acid test troops. In another sense, thanks to our excellent commentators and snarky bloggers, we’ve established our own unique mindspace. Unfortunately, the feature's done sweet FA for our site stats.
Three weeks after launching the news blog and… nothing. We’re still stuck at about 13k unique visitors per day. Truth be told, TTAC’s site stats have been flatlining for longer than some dead people I know. I mean, knew. On the positive side, we’re sticky stuck; average visitor hang time has risen to an amazingly adhesive nine minutes. Monthly page views have crested a cool mil. Not to put too fine a point on it, Scotty, we need more power!
To that end, once again, still, we’re gonna make some changes’ round here. The first and most important shift: the home page layout. The current home page emphasizes reviews. That’s because we were planning to channel the 33 percent of daily visitors who find us through a search engine towards a car broker. There’s good money in that biz, it fits our branding perfectly and we figured we could bust that market wide open (sucka).
And we still do. But we’re hurting for development resources. So we need an interim plan B to raise those recalcitrant site stats and generate some ad revenues, buzz, whatever.
The simplest and easiest option: stop using big words like “recalcitrant.” Failing that (ipso facto), we’re returning the home page to the classic format. In other words, the home page's main column will once again display all items— news blog, reviews, editorials, podcasts— in sequential order.
The new/old/new format should provide an easily parsed heads-up to our search engine immigrants that TTAC is content rich. In the jargon of the biz, we’re hoping to decrease our “bounce rate,” turning e-gadflies into cyber toadstools. Or something like that.
The “latest news” and “latest editorials” boxes will remain in the right hand column, as the list makes it easy for you (our regular customers) to stay up-to-date with the latest TTAC content. Our old friends at Redwing will add a “latest reviews” box to the right hand column. And they'll remove the TTAC Swag section, which has been less well attended (not to say patronized) than the last Snoopy and The Royal Guardsman concert.
As for the announcement that TTAC’s “set to become a social networking site,” well, um, it isn’t. Again, the development money I glimpsed over the horizon went all mirage on me. But more than that, your comments have given me pause. With your help, I now realize that if Frank and I surrender our ability to monitor comments and ban flamers, TTAC will lose its status as an intellectual safe haven. And die.
So we’re looking into more manageable site enhancements. First out of the box: live chat. But not as it’s commonly practiced. We’ll only activate the function for pre-planned debates, discussions and webinars. Participation will be limited to responsible members of the TTAC community and invited guests.
It should be quite a lively forum. Authors, industry insiders and experts will debate ideas with colleagues, antagonists, TTAC scribes and/or regular Joes.
Meanwhile, Redwing Studios will be making a few overdue site tweaks: a contact button, the ability for subscribers to select categories for their RSS feed, a flame warning next to the comments box, etc. If there’s something that’s been niggling away at your “user experience” enjoyment for a while, now’s the time to share. And speaking of sharing…
Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve hit the wall. Until and unless I get more editorial resources, I can’t maintain my current level of creative output AND assure editorial quality AND keep insanity at bay AND be a proper husband and father. So I’m following the advice of a sage whose name Google refuses to reveal: the key to happiness is to find what it is you love to do— and not do too much of it. So, no more weekend posts for a while.
As a slave to the TTAC brand, which exists entirely in your mind, I appreciate your understanding in this. I promise to reward your patience with even better news posts, editorials, reviews and (yes) podcasts during the week. In any case, thanks for your support and patronage. I couldn’t do this important and entertaining work without you. Nor would I want to.
Ex-dtw on Aug 20, 2007
I came, I read, I posted, and then I didn't so much. The news blog hasn't caught on for me and I am dearly missing the editorial output. So, since it's launch and since the ever so slow trickle of new editorials I spend less time on this site. Just one data point though...
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