RE: The humbling reality of writing multi-page articles

Subject: RE: The humbling reality of writing multi-page articles
From: "Darren Barefoot" <darren -dot- barefoot -at- capeclear -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 12 Sep 2002 15:36:08 +0100


Indeed, I'm quite aware of this issue. I run a Weblog (or 'blog', which
is not to be confused with logs from the Web server) which, of course,
is rife with links. Because I figure that this hypertext element is
central to the way in which blogs work, I intentionally do not have my
links open in a new window.

Conversely, for all business and technical writing in HTML, if I'm
linking to an external site (or even occasionally where I'm linking to a
non-essential local resource), I always have pages open in a new window.

Our Web server logs do provide some (kind of unreliable) "click-through"
tracking. The way HTTP works, I'm pretty sure it tracks clicks
regardless of whether they're opened in a new window or not. Mind you,
as people open and work in multiple windows, I suspect the tracking data
gets pretty fuzzy.

Since you mentioned it, here is the tracking data for Sept. 1 - 11 on my
article. The numbers don't actually reflect the total number of views
we've had (browser or log server issues abound), but here's where people
went to after they read the first page of my article:

1. Exit 258 26%
2. /education/primer/index2.shtml 253 25%
3. (other) 108 10% (whatever the heck that means)
4. /education/primer/index.shtml 101 10% (these would mostly be page
refreshes, I imagine)
5. /webservices/globalweather/index.shtml 46 4% (this is an
open-in-new-window link in the text)
6. / 32 3% (this is the home page, accessed by clicking the big logo at
the top of the page)
7. /education/training/index.shtml 31 3% (from a side-bar article)
8. /google/index.shtml 19 1% (I've no idea how they made it to our
GoogleMail article from here)
9. /education/index.shtml 18 1% (via the top-navigation bar)
10. /education/primer/ 17 1% (via the top-navigation bar)
11. /kb/index.shtml 13 1% (via the top-navigation bar)
12. /webservices/index.shtml 9 0% (via the top-navigation bar)

You'd have to get extra fancy to track individual IP addresses as they
navigate through our site, but it's clear to me that the majority of
people who left came to article and then left the site entirely. Of
course, a subset of these people probably did probably find the content
on one of the externally linked pages more compelling than my article. I
hope the W3C specs I link to don't qualify as more compelling, though.
Thanks. DB.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: bounce-techwr-l-65243 -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
> [mailto:bounce-techwr-l-65243 -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com] On Behalf Of
> Herbert Morgan
> Darren:
> I don't know if someone has mentioned this or if there are
> any studies addressing this, but I notice in my own use that
> I am often "distracted" by hyperlinks within text. If I come
> to a link that interests me, I will click it at the time that
> I read it. And sometimes I become so interested in the link
> I've been taken to that I don't return to the original
> article. Or I may follow links ad infinitum until I don't
> even remember the article from which I started. Then I logoff.

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