Mapping WordPress Views

It’s been a year since I started writing this blog. Time, as always, seems to fly by. Blogging here has allowed me to development my writing, communication, and research skills. I thought I’d do something WordPress related to celebrate a year of success and hopefully many more to come. I thought of a quick and easy project to map the geographic locations of visitors to this blog over the last year. It’s always interesting to see what countries people or visiting from and I’m always surprised at the variety.

Data acquisition is simple for this project. WordPress make statistic available so it’s not difficult to acquire the statistics or parse the data since the provided data is pretty solid. The one thing that needs to be done is combining the 2016 and 2017 data into one set since WordPress automatically categorizes visitation statistics by year. Since this blog has only been active for 2016 and 2017, there are only two datasets to combine. This is easily done using a spreadsheet and by having the WordPress statistics available.

The data suggests growth, with 2017 already overtaking the entirety of 2016 in terms of views. It’s also interesting that 2017 is more geographically diverse, consisting of 49 unique countries compared to 31 in 2016. I decided it would be appropriate to create 3 maps, one for 2016, one for 2017, and one combing the two. This would allow one to interpret the differences between the years and see the geographic implications as a whole.

I began by exporting the data into a CSV file to be read by Arcmap. I decided on the blank world map boundaries from thematicmapping.org for a basemap. The previously prepared CSV was then attached to the basemap via the “name” entry which reconciles both data tables with the name of each country. Once the data is on the map it’s over to the quantified symbology to adjust the color scheme and create a choropleth map. I choose to break the data 7 ways and to remove the borders from the country to give it a more natural, pastel look.

In layout view the design touches are added. A title was placed at the top and the map was signed. The legend was added and I used one of the tricks I’ve found useful to format it. First I add the legend with all the default settings and get the positioning correct. After it’s in position I double check that the data components are correct. Then “covert to graphics” is selected to turn the legend into an editable collection of graphic elements. The only downside to this is that it no longer reflects changes in the data so making sure the data is correct before converting is critical. After it’s been converted, selecting “ungroup” will separate each of the graphical elements, allowing the designer to manipulate each individually. I find that this is a personally easier and more intuitive to work with. After editing, the elements can be regrouped and other elements like frames and drop shadows can be added.

Wordpress2016

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Making the 2017 map followed to same methodology.

Wordpress2017

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Combining the two datasets was the only methodological variation when making the final map.

WordpressAll

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At a glance, the trends seem typical. North America is represented in the data as is Europe. There is an unexpected representation in Asia which might be due to the several articles that have been written about China. It’s also neat seeing visitors from South America. The rarest country is New Caledonia, a French Territory in the Pacific about 1000 miles of the coast of eastern Australia.

In the future it would be interesting to create a map that normalizes the number of visitors according to the population of the countries. This would create a map that shows which countries visit at a higher or lower rate per capita. This would illustrate which countries are more drawn to the content on the site.

Here’s to hoping for more geographical variation in the future. Maybe one day all countries will have visited Thoughtworks.