Site News: Who Do You Think You LR?

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Thanks to all who continue to provide feedback on the new site design. I’ve now made another couple of tweaks, based on that feedback:

  • The background (and text in the “inverted” site version) are now slightly off-white, to reduce glare.
  • I’ve reduced the line-height within articles slightly, to make visual scanning easier
  • To clarify for those who weren’t sure how print stylesheets work, basically just go to the page you want to print and select File > Print. Simple as that – no extra steps necessary!
  • I’ve altered the site so that, in theory at least, if you’re on Windows XP and using Internet Explorer 7, the site defaults to using non-web fonts. This should hopefully make it look/run smoother on older systems and browsers.

Indeed, that last point provoked a thought – how much does the average LR reader know about their fellow reader?

Like comedy, good web design is about knowing your audience. Just as TfL spend a great deal of time and effort determining who uses a particular rail service and what their travel patterns are, a good web designer or developer will pull on all the metrics they have available to build a web experience that is customized around those who will use it. Indeed most major websites analyse and assess this information on a regular basis.

For TfL or Network Rail, gathering such metrics often means passenger surveys, or at least the iconic presence of a man (or woman) holding a clipboard and clicker at a station or bus stop. In internet terms, developers have it slightly easier – for what many users of the internet don’t realise is that, behind the scenes, their browser (and service provider) communicates an impressive amount of anonymous information about what they use and what the they do on the internet.

So if you will forgive the brief diversion away from our core subject (and for reasons only of giving a little bit of insight into you – the readers – which some may find interesting) I thought it might be worth taking a brief moment to share some of those key metrics here.

London Reconnections readers around the world

The above map gives the rough distribution of readership in an average given period across the world. The darker the area, the more readers can be found there. Unsurprisingly, by far the largest proportion of our readership is based in the UK.

Reader distribution within the UK

Again, probably unsurprisingly, much of that UK readership is clustered in England, most notably the South East Corridor. This reader distribution is one of the reasons why we feel discussion of wider elements of the RUS are useful – because commuters are readers too.

Reader Browser Choices

The above image gives an interesting insight into what readers use to view London Reconnections. The percentage using Internet Explorer is far lower than one might expect – indeed although its not shown here, the majority of those users are on later versions of Internet Explorer as well. IE6 and 7 combined only make up about 15% of that IE slice, with the overwhelming majority of IE users on IE8.

Overall, the balance between all the major browsers is far more even than many sites will experience – LR readers are apparently more techno-savy than one might think.

London Reconnection Reader Operating Systems

Windows systems naturally dominate when it comes to the machines used by site visitors. Interestingly, about 50% of that Windows slice is actually Windows 7 users. Macintosh users are again more significant than one might suspect, however, and mobile and handheld platforms are creeping up. This is one of the reasons why we decided to make a conscious effort to make the site “mobile friendly.”

Breakdown of mobile readers by device

To finish, when it comes to mobile and handheld devices, there’s no surprise about which dominate. iPad and iPhone were the two handheld devices I made sure we tested the site on before launch.

Thus ends this brief graphical analysis – again, apologies for the diversion away from our primary subject matter, but ultimately it seemed a good opportunity to give a little bit of insight into what makes up LR and its readers behind the scenes.

Written by John Bull
John Bull is the Editor of London Reconnections. A transport journalist and historian, his writing often focuses on the political or strategic challenges facing London's transport network and beyond.