We’ve had a lot of technical articles lately, and while I think technical articles are the best kind, there is such a thing as getting in a rut. Yes, sheet metal is cool, but after a few articles hammering little details, it does get a little old. There’s a reason why I show the number of views along with the list of articles – so that we all can see what works and what doesn’t. So far I’ve learned that you guys love new stuff (What’s New articles), you love conceptual articles on big concepts like surfacing or multi-bodies, and you love hearing important ideas from CAD celebrities. But I’ve also learned you get bored starting with the 3rd article in a series, that niche articles aren’t always popular, you like reading about Solid Edge company news, and that writing a good title for an article is more important than I would have guessed.
The most popular blog posts judged by number of page visits have been:
This data isn’t really fair for a couple of reasons – first, I can only get 3 months of stats at a time (I’ve been doing this for about 6 months), so articles about 3 months old have an advantage. Stuff older than that is severely penalized (because older visits aren’t counted), and stuff newer than that is penalized a little less (because they haven’t been available for as much time).
I can understand articles on new features being #1. That’s exciting, it’s new information, and it’s important. But how does something as banal as Colors get to be #2? And something as obscure as Virtual Components get to be #3?
I think colors is a topic that needs some development attention, and people might be checking my conclusions against theirs. The Colors functionality in Edge has a lot of potential, but the interface is maybe a bit dated. Virtual Components? I think it’s an area of the software that people think would be useful if they could only understand it.
Blog writers have this tendency to write about themselves. It’s hard to avoid, and readers here haven’t rewarded me when I slipped up and fell into the trap. Writing about personal experience is one thing, but writing about my On The Edge blog or mentioning that I’m new around here didn’t generate much interest.
It’s also important to know what articles were the least popular. It turns out that many of the early posts on Solid Edge University were not very popular. There might have been a lot of reasons for that. The community itself was still young at that point, and the traffic was pretty low. Those who were interested in SEU were probably there already. Extended series also seemed to wane as they got further along.
One of my objectives from early on was to include as many guest bloggers as possible. I’ve learned a couple of things here. First, people don’t want to write unless they are getting paid or are involved in marketing or sales (or your name is Dave Ault). So how do you convince people to write? Most engineers didn’t like writing in school, and like it even less in the real world, especially on a volunteer basis. So I’m going to try to come up with some enticements for you shy people out there. I’m sure a lot of you have something to share that other folks need to hear.
So in the last 6 months, I’ve learned a bit, and in the next 6 months, I’m going to try some different techniques to get folks to participate. Just so you know, there is a movement in the works to improve the design of the site, in particular the navigation and visual appeal, and I’ll be asking you all to help by participating in that coming up shortly. I think aside from providing good articles, discussions between users, and answers to people with questions, having a site that isn’t repellent is an important thing we can do.
As always, your comments are important in driving the direction of what we do here. Please tell us what’s on your mind.