I was reminded tonight how important it is to communicate data in a form that supports its function. Koop and I were poking around some WordPress.com stats over coffee and I pulled up our data for pageviews from iPads, which began the following.
A note about UTC time, which we use for internal stats — peak hours in the US, which our data tends to be highly correlated to, are roughly 13:00-02:00.
First I looked at the daily chart of pageviews from iPads.
I noticed that it didn’t look like most pageview charts, which typically follow long peaks and short valleys for weekdays and weekends, like our aggregate pageview data for WordPress.com.
If you look at the main pageview stat by hour, you see that there are spikes basically when people are at work — during the day in the US, Monday through Friday. This isn’t really news, and it’s very, very common across most websites.
iPad pageviews, on the other hand, look totally different on an hourly basis.
There are two important things to notice here:
- Weekends spike, not weekdays
- Intra-week differences disappear almost entirely after 21:00 (1pm PST/4pm EST)
The explanation for this is actually quite simple — iPads are primarily used outside of work, which is where people tend to be on the weekends and at night. If you were to translate the last chart into a story, it would basically be this:
On weekends, people wake up and use their iPads throughout the day, well into the night, but on weekdays the iPads are stuck at home alone while their owners at work, and thus dormant.
I don’t think this is a particularly important revelation (maybe we should promote iPad stuff on the weekends?) but I do think it’s a cool example of how showing the same data in a different form (line chart vs hourly grid) tells a different and much more useful story. Also interesting is that the use of the hourly grid here is probably not what most people assume it’s good for, which is seeing data on a really granular level. It’s actually the near-exact opposite, it’s the best way to view this data on an aggregate level.
 Though the modifier is dangling, I meant the iPads were dormant, not the people — but I suppose from our overall pageview stats, that may not be completely true.