So what’s up with USAToday’s traffic?
Obviously, before it’s big redesign, traffic was declining, but it’s fallen off a cliff since the relaunch.
Is the problem the design, or is the UGC/participation model failing, or is it something else?
Before we jump to conclusions that its UGC/participation, look at the past 12 months of traffic for Bakersfield.com:
We (clarifying point: I’m no longer affiliated with Bakersfield.com) relaunched the site in March 2006, with the UGC/participation tools being added a month or so later. As the graph above shows, traffic has been steadily climbing.
Bakersfield.com’s success could be related to improved site navigation, or boat loads of more video or the participation tools. The point is, it’s hard to believe participation tools are hurting USAToday.
WashingtonPost.com, a constantly evolving site, but one that went through some significant home page tweaks in about the same time frame as USAToday’s relaunch, is also showing steady growth:
WaPo is also heavy into user participation and conversation.
Based on just these couple of comparisons, either something is terribly wrong with the USAToday design, or there is some other unknown factor that is hurting USAToday’s numbers.
For sake of one last comparison: NYTimes.com
Again, steady growth (so it’s not an industrywide trend against national news sites).