For the past three years now my colleagues and I have been hard at work on the website Making the History of 1989. We are very proud of the site and have been gratified to see traffic grow each month. Our hope is that by the end of this 20th anniversary of the events of 1989 in Eastern Europe the site will be the main resource for those interested in looking back at what happened there 20 years ago.
We began promoting the project to various audiences in August of last year and by the end of 2008 the site was averaging just over 2,700 unique visitors each month. Last month we had slightly more than 6,000 unique visitors. A Google search on “1989” lists the site as the last choice on the first page and one on “1989 eastern europe” lists us third after only Wikipedia (naturally) and a State Department page with a brief description of the events of 1989 in the region. Not bad for a site that just launched officially eight months ago.
One reason our traffic has continued to grow steadily this spring is that we took full advantage of a conference here at George Mason called “1989: Looking Back, Looking Forward” featuring Mikhail Gorbachev as the keynote speaker. The more than 2,400 people who attended the two day event received promotional materials about the website and we saw a significant bump in traffic as a result. Our hope is that those who found us as a result of the conference publicity will continue to use the site in the months and years to come.
Over the coming months we’ll incorporate video from the conference (Gorbachev’s two appearances were recorded by our campus television station) and will link these speeches to the more than 110 different pages in the database dealing with Gorbachev and his career in one way or another.
Although the conference was a tremendous amount of work, it was one heck of a way to help launch a website.