Making Your Website Work for You: Knowing What to Track and Why

The most important lesson I’ve learned at Brick Factory is that results matter. What good is a website if it doesn’t help you reach your goals? We work closely with a ton of nonprofits, and when it comes to their websites, our clients are usually focused on two major goals:
  1. Growing their email list
  2. Increasing online donations
You can track these key metrics through your email marketing platform, CRM, or donation platform, but what if you want to look at this data in relation to how users are interacting with your website? Not so easy if you don’t have the right infrastructure in place. If you set your site up correctly, there is a wealth of donation and email sign up data to be mined. Understanding how, when, and why your visitors take action (or don’t take action) can help you figure out what’s working, where to switch things up,
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Last blog standing, “last guy dancing”: How Jason Kottke is thinking about at 20

In 2013, Jason Kottke wrote a prediction for Nieman Lab’s year-end roundup: “The blog is dead, long live the blog.” Kottke was then (and still is) owner of one of the longest continuously running blogs on the web:, founded in 1998. “Sometime in the past few years, the blog died. In 2014, people will finally notice,” he wrote. “Sure, blogs still exist, many of them are excellent, and they will go on existing and being excellent for many years to come. But the function of the blog, the nebulous informational task we all agreed the blog was fulfilling for the past decade, is increasingly being handled by a growing number of disparate media forms that are blog-like but also decidedly not blogs.”, however, is decidedly still a blog. It also celebrates its twentieth birthday this year. I spoke with Kottke about the Continue reading "Last blog standing, “last guy dancing”: How Jason Kottke is thinking about at 20"

The Wall Street Journal shutters eight blogs: “The tools for telling” stories have changed

On the heels of ending its news digest app and fine-tuning its push notification strategy, The Wall Street Journal shut down eight blogs on Monday. Their topics ranged from legal news to the Chinese economy to arts, culture, and entertainment. The shutterings were another condensation of platforms in the Wall Street Journal’s digital strategy, folding coverage of the topic areas into the Wall Street Journal’s homepage. One of the Wall Street Journal’s oldest blogs, the Law Blog launched in January 2006 with a “simple name but a novel approach to legal news in the pre-Twitter era,” the paper’s law bureau chief Ashby Jones wrote in the blog’s farewell note:
Law Blog was the first of its kind at the WSJ and was an immediate hit, attracting readers from all corners of the legal world. Its success helped usher in a sort of Golden Age for blogs at WSJ and Continue reading "The Wall Street Journal shutters eight blogs: “The tools for telling” stories have changed"

The Verge launches Circuit Breaker, a gadget blog-as-Facebook page

Is Facebook the new RSS? Vox Media’s tech site The Verge is trying something that might answer that question: It’s launching a gadget “blog,” Circuit Breaker, that will live primarily as a Facebook page, with posts appearing in the Instant Articles format. The New York Times’ John Herrman, who first reported the news, wrote:
Circuit Breaker will be edited by Paul Miller, a former employee of The Verge who is returning to the company. Mr. Miller said the new page would reach for a “core audience” of hard-core gadget fans. The Verge offers some popular gadget coverage, but Mr. Miller said many of those gadget fans “feel neglected when we’re talking about Netflix” and technology’s role in the broader culture. The page will also steer clear of covering the business of tech, leaving industry stories to The Verge or Recode, the tech news site founded by Continue reading "The Verge launches Circuit Breaker, a gadget blog-as-Facebook page"

The New York Times gets rid of Bits as a standalone blog

The New York Times is shuttering its tech blog, Bits, as a separate destination. From a post Wednesday:
“When Bits was born, blogs were the path toward a digital future. They were the only way for us to publish quickly, without the constraints of print deadlines and production. No more. We now have a home-grown publishing system that allows us to more seamlessly integrate our tech coverage across the web, apps, print, social media — everywhere you find our journalism. So for clarity and simplicity, the blog goes away and all tech stories will now carry the label of Tech. You will still see the Bits identifier on some of our journalism. The Bits email newsletter will continue, as will Bits special sections and daily reports that summarize the big news of the day.”
The New York Times did a big rethink of its blogs in 2014, Continue reading "The New York Times gets rid of Bits as a standalone blog"

The Closest Thing to Free Likes: Re-Posting Old Content

All too often, great content is created, uploaded to a blog, posted on social media, viewed by interested users, and then quickly forgotten. But, if that same great content is posted on social media again later, then it is able to reach a far greater audience. This sounds obvious, right? The problem is, we often fail to take this basic step toward significantly improving the traffic on our blogs. Why is that?
  • Are we afraid of spamming followers with repeat posts?
  • Do we think that all old content is irrelevant?
  • Do we believe that content that performs poorly will always perform poorly?
Sometimes we post the right content at the wrong time. This is what happened when Buzzfeed posted the blue and black/white and gold dress picture on social media. While Buzzfeed’s Twitter followers loved the post, Buzzfeed could not get it to take hold on Facebook. They tried
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Press Publish 15: Matt Thompson on The Atlantic’s attempt to breathe some life into classic blogging

It’s Episode 15 of Press Publish, the Nieman Lab podcast! press-publish-2-1400pxMy guest today is Matt Thompson. Since earlier this year, Matt has been deputy editor of, But you might know him from some of his previous career stops. He spent a few years at NPR, heading up some of its most interesting digital initiatives, like Project Argo. Maybe you know him from Snarkmarket, the influential group blog he led with fellow smart guys Robin Sloan and Tim Carmody. Or you may just know him as a provocative thinker on the shape of modern media. Matt’s one of the key people behind Notes, a new section The Atlantic launched last month that promises to bring blogging back to The Atlantic. It’s an interesting attempt to recapture some of the looser, voicier, more conversational
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