Mines Web: Summary Analytics and Trends 2009-2013
Compiled by David Frossard
5 February 2014
Visits to the primary internal Mines website inside.mines.edu have shown constant and steady growth since our
analytics software came online in early July 2009. This is likely highly correlated with the increasing number of
departments and institutes, increasing number of total web pages, and new services (e.g. Mines Calendar) now
found on that website.
Visits, per day
Visits are cyclical and seasonal, general y peaking on the first day of fal classes each year, with a secondary
peak on the first day of spring classes. Yearly record-high-traffic days show a steady and predictable increase,
more than tripling over the past five years:
Visits to inside.mines.edu on the maximum-traffic day each year
Total visits per year also show a steady, predictable upward trend, more than doubling in this period (see
endnotes for methodological considerations regarding the numbers in this table):
Total visits to inside.mines.edu, per year
Although many other trends could be noted here, the most striking is the skyrocketing access to Mines web
pages via mobile devices – primarily smartphones and tablet computers – over the past five years.
As the table below indicates, mobile visits to inside.mines.edu have roughly doubled each year of the past five.
At this rate of increase, mobile visits would make up the majority of visits to Mines web pages within two years.
For various reasons, we expect this rate of increase to slow (for one thing, since we have no mobile-optimized
pages on inside.mines.edu, navigating the website on a smartphone is a painful experience that discourages
mobile visits). But it is nevertheless quite possible that mobile traffic wil account for more than half of al
inside.mines.edu web traffic within this decade as people abandon old computing paradigms in favor of mobile
Year Mobile Visits % of All Visits % Visits via Tablet
Mobile visits to inside.mines.edu
Although available numbers for tablet computers reach back only a bit more than two years, it appears that
tablet use peaked in 2012 and decreased somewhat in 2013. Thus, the great majority of mobile visits are stil
made on smal -screen devices like smartphones. This promises to remain the case in at least the near term.
Visits to the primary external Mines web site www.mines.edu have shown relatively slow growth since analytics
became available in late December 2008. Visits are typical y fairly constant throughout the year with mild peaks
in spring and fal (when prospective students and parents are looking at the school more closely perhaps) and
slow periods during the summer and winter breaks. Traffic on www.mines.edu is thus less seasonal than for
inside.mines.edu. (Note: The extreme peaks seen from late 2009 to late 2010 are likely, we believe, server or
configuration artifacts and not indicative of record traffic days.)
Visits, per day
The mild growth of www.mines.edu over time is less likely to be a result of new features or pages added to that
website (which is relatively static in that regard) and more likely reflects an increase in interest about Mines,
perhaps driven by our Mines Public Relations, Alumni Association, and Mines Foundation outreach efforts.
Total visits to www.mines.edu, per year
As with inside.mines.edu, over time there has been a striking increase in visits to www.mines.edu via mobile
devices. In fact, a typical visitor to www.mines.edu is substantial y more likely to use a mobile device than is a
typical visitor to inside.mines.edu.
Year Mobile Visits % of All Visits % Visits via Tablet
Mobile visits to www.mines.edu
Why might this be?
First, a visitor to www.mines.edu is more likely to be a new visitor curious about the school (rather than a current
student who accesses inside.mines.edu frequently and has learned not to do so with a smartphone). The more
naive www.mines.edu user does not yet know that our websites are difficult to use with smartphones.
Second, visitors to www.mines.edu are somewhat more likely to be international visitors (17.2 percent in 2013)
when compared to inside.mines.edu international visitors (11.7 percent in 2013). International visitors in general
are somewhat more likely to use a smartphone as their preferred, or only, method of Internet access.
As is the case with inside.mines.edu, tablet users on www.mines.edu (as a percentage of al mobile visitors)
peaked in 2012 and dropped slightly in 2013, making up about 1/3 of al mobile visitors. Again, this is unlikely to
change in the near term.
GENERAL CONCLUSION: THE FUTURE OF THE WEB AT MINES
1. Visits to inside.mines.edu and www.mines.edu are steadily increasing year by year (though significantly more
for the former than the latter). Any steadily growing system may eventual y have sustainability issues. However,
at this time, and for the foreseeable future, we believe that our servers and systems are adequate to handle the
load. A new server cal ed “Incantation” wil soon join Il usion (host of www.mines.edu) and Il uminate (host of
inside.mines.edu) to take up the strain of future load increases.
2. It has been suggested that Mines websites could use a graphical “refresh” soon (the rule of thumb is to update
a particular web design every 5-10 years). However, because they are special y designed sites in a custom
content-management system – rather than stereotypical cookie-cutter Drupal, Jumla, or WordPress sites found
al over the web – the main Mines websites sport a fresh look not found elsewhere. In our estimation, our design
remains unique, modern, and attractive.
Of course, change for its own sake can be good and can help raise brand awareness and excitement about a
website. But arguably, any Mines web redesign should take place primarily not to “freshen” the look, but to
incorporate new, interactive web technologies and services and – most importantly – make our main websites far
more friendly to users of mobile devices who wil make up the majority of our future visitors. (See #3, below.)
3. The most rapidly changing aspect of our web presence is the number of people accessing Mines web pages
via mobile devices. Mines currently makes available special-purpose “Mines Mobile” iPhone and Android apps,
and even a limited mobile website at http://m.mines.edu/, to provide basic Mines information to smartphone
users. Events, maps, campus news, library search, sports schedules, and a few other useful features are
available with these tools.
However, while tablet users (who have relatively large, high-resolution screens) can browse our main websites
pretty much as-is, we have no mobile-optimized way to present al the data from inside.mines.edu or
www.mines.edu to smartphone users. As we in CCIT have noted for several years, this is becoming a problem –
a problem that wil only get worse in the future.
Thus, future web redesigns should focus on presenting al our web pages in formats optimized for different
screen sizes from smartphone to desktop monitor.
Several modern technologies and techniques (e.g., Mobile CSS and HTML5, among others) make this process
easier today than it was five years ago.
Wil new smartphone-friendly Mines websites make apps obsolete? In fact, there is a case to be made for
improving and expanding our mobile iPhone and Android apps indefinitely (while, perhaps, al owing our mobile
website to disappear as unnecessary). Apps – as opposed to websites – can do some interesting tricks. In our
case, apps could be created to provide one particular highly desired feature: secure Banner access. Students
could potential y check grades, register for classes, and even look at their financial statements quickly and
conveniently through their smartphones. We currently have the capability (though not necessarily the staff or
time) to create such apps in-house.
In general, though, mobile is the future. Our websites are sorely lacking when it comes to smal mobile devices.
We need to do better – and soon.
This figure was tal ied during the second half of 2009, after analytics became available on this server. The
true 2009 ful -year figure is probably about double this, or around 950,000 visits.
Due to a temporary misconfiguration of our analytics software for inside.mines.edu, a smal amount of data
from late 2011 was lost. The true number of visits in 2011 is estimated to be about 9 percent higher than the
number shown here, or about 1,842,000 visits in total.
i i Due to a temporary misconfiguration of our analytics software for inside.mines.edu, a smal amount of data
from early 2012 was lost. The true number of visits in 2011 is estimated to be about 4 percent higher than
the number shown here, or about 2,059,000 visits in total.
iv This figure was tal ied during the second half of 2009, after analytics became available on this server. The
true 2009 ful -year figure is probably about double this, or around 4,500 mobile visits.
Our analytic software became able to differentiate between tablets and other mobile devices starting very
late in 2011. Previous to that time, tablet numbers are inconclusive or nonexistent.