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Metrics

A Conversation With ITIF About the State of Federal Government Websites

At the beginning of 2017, the ITIF (Information Technology and Innovation Foundation) released a report that benchmarked 300 federal websites in four areas: page-load speed, mobile friendliness, security and accessibility. Some sites fared better than others, but the report highlighted that our federal sites have a ways to go (DigitalGov included) in these areas. Looking at these four metrics is important as they directly impact our customers’ first perceptions of the quality of our government’s digital services.

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USA.gov and GobiernoUSA.gov Measure Content Efficiency With New KPI Metric

This post was originally published on the USA.gov blog. After our content team moved to a more agile method of working, we also started to look at the metrics we use to measure the success of our work. To help us with that, our analytics team developed a new metric we’re experimenting with called the content efficiency metric. This metric is a key performance indicator (KPI) that we’re hoping can help guide our content decisions.

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2016/2017 Mobile Analysis: Mobile Device Trends on Government Websites

We’d like to thank each agency and sub-agency for their partnership and participation in the Digital Analytics Program (DAP). The data below represents a view from over 4,500+ executive branch websites and the analysis we conducted wouldn’t be possible without you. Since the introduction of the iPhone a decade ago, smartphone and tablet usage has exploded, with 378 million mobile devices in use in 2015. In fact, 49 percent of U.

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Check out Data.gov’s New Metrics Page

Data.gov recently updated its Metrics{.local-link} page to provide greater detail and transparency to the progress of the Data.gov catalog. Data.gov is primarily a metadata catalog, providing information about, and links to, open datasets made available by federal agencies and participating non-federal sources such as state, county, and city governments. Data.gov features metadata such as title, description, keywords, contact information, and access or download links for nearly 200,000 datasets. Data.gov obtains the metadata from federal and non-federal government sources that maintain their metadata following a specific schema.

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How Facebook Live Increased Reach and Engagement of Scientific Lectures at NIH

Helping patients manage chronic pain has become an increasing challenge for health care providers, particularly in the face of an ongoing opioid epidemic in the United States. In response, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has made funding research on integrative health approaches to pain management—exploring which approaches can be implemented as part of an overall treatment strategy—a research priority.

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Webinar Recap: Measuring Your Mobile Users

The Digital Analytics Program (DAP) offers no cost, hosted web analytics to federal agencies. In November 2016, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued Memorandum M-17-06, “Policies for Federal Agency Public Websites and Digital Services,” which requires federal websites to incorporate the DAP’s JavaScript code for website analytics. The DAP Learning Series: Measuring Your Mobile Users webinar, co-sponsored by the MobileGov Community of Practice, focused on measuring mobile users with DAP’s analytics tools, which are essentially a pre-configured version of Google Analytics.

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New ITIF Report Inspires a Closer Look at Website Performance and Security—Here Is Where to Begin

The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF) recently published a report, Benchmarking U.S. Government Websites, that looks at the performance, security, and accessibility of the top 297 government websites. ITIF is a think tank in Washington, D.C. whose mission is to formulate, evaluate, and promote policy solutions that accelerate innovation in technology and public policy. Over the past 90 days, government websites were visited over 2.55 billion times. According to the Analytics Dashboard, 43.

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DigitalGov University in Review: 2016 Training Trends

DigitalGov University (DGU), the events platform for DigitalGov, provides programming to build and accelerate digital capacity by providing webinars and in-person events highlighting innovations, case studies, tools, and resources. Thanks to your participation, DGU hosted over 90 events with 6,648 attendees from over 100 agencies across federal, tribal, state, and local governments. DGU strives to provide training throughout the year that is useful and relevant to you. One of the most resounding comments from digital managers last year was people wanted to be able to attend all of our classes virtually.

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The Data Briefing: Four Steps to Becoming a Data-Driven Organization

As the Federal government agencies begin the digital transformation journey, becoming a data-driven organization is even more vital. What does it mean to become a data-driven organization? According to one definition, “[a] data-driven company is an organization where every person who can use data to make better decisions, has access to the data they need when they need it.” There are many theories are on how to create a data-driven organization, but few case studies that demonstrate the actual process.

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Dear Search: Reading Between the Lines of Search Data

Welcome to the first Dear Search article, an occasional series where the DigitalGov Search team addresses common search questions. Dear Search, Right now, I am building up user research services that can be offered to product owners on a regular or as-needed basis. So, being able to look at search trends and offer advice to teams seems like a good start. When you are trying to understand user behavior based on search data, how do you typically go about it?

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Analytics Success Series: USA.gov

USA.gov’s Analytics Success: using analytics data to inform design and responsivity to create a better experience for the user Last year, the USA.gov team found themselves facing a challenge. We were in need of a new content management system for our websites, USA.gov and Gobierno.USA.gov, which help people find and understand the most frequently requested government information. We wanted to align the content on those websites with content in the knowledge base used by our contact center; up until this point, the information in those two places had been similar but unique.

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What Is Static Source Analysis?

In software development, we use a variety of techniques to help us understand the software we’ve written, whether it works as expected, and whether it will be easy to maintain over time. One of the techniques we use is called static source analysis, and it can tell us a lot about the maintenance requirements of our code. Static source analysis (also often referred to as simply “static analysis”) is the practice of examining source code while it’s not running and gathering a variety of metrics on the code itself, without regard to how it runs in an active environment.

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The Data Briefing: Twenty Years of USAJOBS

I recently sat down with Michelle Earley, Program Manager, to discuss the new changes for the 20th anniversary of USAJOBS. 1) What are the three big lessons learned from 20 years of building and managing USAJOBS? I think one of the greatest benefits of being an Agile program is that we are constantly learning. In 2013, our team implemented the first phase of the data warehouse which provided agencies with data that could be leveraged to improve recruiting efforts.

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The Data Briefing: The Federal Data Cabinet—Promoting Data Literacy, Cultural Change, and the Federal Data Applications Ecosystem

Last Wednesday, the White House held the first Open Data Summit to showcase the open data accomplishments of the Obama Administration. One of the highlights was the formation of a government-wide “data cabinet.” Announced by Chief Data Scientist DJ Patil, the data cabinet is essentially a community of practice comprising the Federal agency’s data professionals. As Dr. Patil explains, the real issues concerning technical projects revolve around cultural issues. I couldn’t agree more.

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Our New Center for Enhanced Analytics

Analytics and “big data” seem to be the next frontier in a number of arenas. Data researchers can use the large, real-time data sets that are available today to facilitate scientific discovery, improve the flow of traffic, and increase energy efficiency, among many other things. Last year, the White House appointed the first federal Chief Data Scientist. And a few months ago, the federal government released a strategy for big data research and development.

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Analytics Success Series: Health Resources & Services Administration

Health Resources and Services Administration’s Analytics Success: Using Analytics to Reduce Content and Improve User Experience Unlike out-of-town guests, you want your web visitors to stick around. So, if your site continues to see a bounce rate that stubbornly refuses to drop—it’s time to make some changes. That’s exactly what happened to the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Maternal and Child Health Bureau’s (MCHB) website. Last year, in 2015, the site’s average bounce rate was 63% — and more than 70% for some key landing pages.

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Analytics Success Series: USAJOBS

USAJOBS’ Analytics Success: using analytics to create accurate testing strategies. Accurate testing strategies are crucial to ensure quality products. Hi-fidelity approaches ensure QA efforts are testing in a true-to-life manner, similar to real-world users. Inaccurate, lo-fidelity testing can miss situational bugs that become showstoppers in production. USAJOBS is leveraging the Digital Analytics Program (DAP) to form high-fidelity, accurate testing strategies that mimic production site-usage in the most accurate way possible.

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No Longer an Idea of the Future, Artificial Intelligence Is Here and You Are Probably Already Using It

It might surprise some of you to know that artificial intelligence (AI) is already in use and a routine part of our daily lives, but we leverage this technology when we use our smartphones or other devices to ask Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, Google Now, or Amazon’s Alexa a question to get the facts or data we are looking for. Using your voice, you can say, “Where’s the nearest gas station?

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Analytics Success Series: Federal Trade Commission

FTC’s Analytics Success: Making mission-related tasks easier for the user to find In the summer of 2015, members of the Federal Trade Commission’s Office of Public Affairs (OPA) Web team worked with their FTC colleagues to analyze Digital Analytics Program (DAP) Google Analytics data (onsite search queries, landing pages, pageviews, etc.) for FTC.gov. We found that many visitors were coming to the site to perform mission-related tasks, such as filing a complaint or reporting identity theft.

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Webinar Recap: A Look At Google’s Media Tool and Platform Offerings

Suddenly, digital video is everywhereon your social timelines. As a government storyteller, you may be overwhelmed about all the tools available and all of the features each publishing platform has to offer. Facebook, Twitter and SnapChat all offer great video platforms that are free and easy to use, plus they make it easy for you to market to your social followers on those respective platforms. When most people think of Google, they often think of the search engine, but Google also has been on the forefront of creating media and research tools, metric suites and content presentation platforms for years.

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CSAT, NPS, and CES: 3 Easy Ways to Measure Customer Experience (CX)

Have you ever wondered how to measure a customer’s experience? I’ve thought about it, specifically about how to measure the experience with services from government agencies. This is a complex topic because government services can be vastly different from each other. These services range from: issuing fishing and hunting permits, social security benefits, unemployment insurance, job training, business licenses, food inspection, and medical and mental health services to veterans. Honestly, I was overwhelmed.

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Analytics Trainings: 2016 So Far

In 2016, the Digital Analytics Program (DAP) team has ramped up our training schedule. We appreciate all the DAP users that have attended our trainings and we’re happy to provide the material. We’ve had many users ask about video of our sessions, so we wanted to provide you with some of our recorded trainings from 2016 so far. Bookmark this page, but don’t forget about it! Here are some things we’ve covered in 2016:

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Exciting Additions to Analytics.usa.gov

We’ve expanded analytics.usa.gov to include 15(!) more agency-specific dashboard pages. We now offer agency-specific analytics data pages for a total of 25 major federal agencies, and each one is accessible from the dropdown menu at the top of the site. Additionally, we’ve moved the downloadable datasets to their own pages, rather than be located on the dashboard pages themselves. The page to download aggregated data for all participating sites is now analytics.

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Google Analytics Download Data Lower Than Expected? Here’s Why (And How to Fix It)

What’s the best way to track file downloads in Google Analytics? Will the Digital Analytics Program (DAP) help me track PDF/.doc/.xls downloads? Are my download numbers accurate? Why aren’t my file downloads appearing in the web analytics data? The answers to these questions aren’t abundantly clear to even seasoned web analysts. But here’s the good news: If your site uses DAP, we’ve done the hard work, and our code records file downloads on your web pages by default!

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Why Switching to HTTPS Will Make Your Analytics Better

Federal agencies are required to make all federal websites accessible through a secure, HTTPS-only connection by the end of the 2016 calendar year. What you might not have known is that the switch to HTTPS will improve your ability to track which sites are directing web traffic to yours. Recently, a federal colleague reached out to a digital community about a huge jump in referrals from Wikipedia.org to a federal site in late February.

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Using Pirate Metrics to Analyze Your Mobile Application’s Audience

What Makes a Native App Successful? There are over 200 native applications in the federal government with various download numbers. Are the ones with the most downloads the most successful? Is the one with fewer users who are more engaged more successful? It depends on what you are trying to accomplish. David Cooper, the Mobile Application Development Lead with the National Center for Telehealth and Technology (T2) and member of the MobileGov Community of Practice, said during a recent DigitalGov University (DGU) webinar, that while vanity metrics such as page views for websites and downloads for apps make you feel good, they don’t tell you anything about how users like your app or site.

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Additional Data Options With DAP

Agencies can participate in the Digital Analytics Program (DAP) by implementing the DAP script block. It’s a simple line of of code that enables you to take advantage DAP: (Example) You can use this line to enhance the Web analytics solution with additional query string parameters. The query string parameters pass data that enable features within the code. They can also help configure settings in the code. It allows you to leverage more features in DAP or extract more data out of DAP.

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The Content Corner: Social Media Metrics and the Challenge of Effective Measurement

I’ve recently been required to focus more attention on social media from a federal agency standpoint and this has directly led to a greater consideration of content. One of my first steps was to begin sharing various forms of content and gauge the success of each type. In today’s post, I’ll share what I have learned and hope it opens your eyes to how we measure success and whether our metrics are right or completely meaningless.

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Seeing States the Right Way: How to Weigh Data by Population

One large issue my team has run into when analyzing and reporting data across different states is knowing whether sessions within an area are higher due to more interest, or a larger population. Time after time, we see the states with the largest populations show up with the largest amount of traffic, like the graph below. However, creating a useful equation of users vs. population in a given area will likely give more insight into which states are most engaged, instead of which ones have the most people.

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Preliminary Results from USAGov’s Voter Registration Partnership with Facebook

The first phase of our partnership with Facebook included Facebook “megaphones” being rolled out in a handful of states with rapidly approaching voter registration deadlines. Facebook’s megaphone is a featured box that is displayed at the top of all user’s News Feeds. (You may recall seeing these after certain disasters giving users the option to quickly donate to Red Cross or other organizations). We piloted the voter registration megaphone in South Carolina on January 15.

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4 Tips for Analyzing Mobile Traffic with DAP

It’s not a secret that mobile Internet viewership is booming, but according to a ComScore report released last June, 49% of the audiences for the top 100 digital properties are now mobile-only. Additionally, during the third quarter last year, Gartner reported PC shipments fell 7.7% while IDC Research reported a 10.8% decline. The switch to mobile will continue, and for government websites, the trend is no different. For this reason, it’s important to optimize your mobile experience.

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Tips for Adapting analytics.usa.gov from Tennessee, Boulder, and Philadelphia

When we launched analytics.usa.gov with the Digital Analytics Program, the U.S. Digital Service, and the White House last March, we purposefully made it very easy to adapt and wrote language on the website to let people know they could use the code without restriction: This open source project is in the public domain, which means that this website and its data are free for you to use without restriction. You can find the code for this website and the code behind the data collection on GitHub.

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Analytics.usa.gov: New Features and More Data

As of writing this post, 25,225 of the 124,878 total visitors on federal government websites participating in the Digital Analytics Program (DAP) are NOT located in the United States. And as a result of a new location feature on the expanded analytics.usa.gov, you are free to check for yourself how many current users are from outside the country, anytime you’d like. Back in March of this year, DAP released analytics.

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Trends on Tuesday: What Mobile Devices Do People Use to Access Federal Sites?

Mobile users of government websites are growing in double digit percentages and will likely soon become the majority. For some recent internal project research, I dove into some of the federal government-wide analytics looking at mobile usage and found a few interesting tidbits to share: It’s an OS battle of the As. Apple devices slightly edge out Android as the most popular with 49.24% to 44.88% of the audience. There’s no realistic third contender.

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Gov Analytics Breakdown #2: Mobile Is Bigger than Ever

A review of the Digital Analytics Program (DAP) data confirms what many are already saying: Content is being viewed on mobile devices more than ever before, and the percentage of sessions via mobile devices is growing. Three things are evident when looking at the breakdown of sessions on federal government websites across device types over the last three years: Percentage of tablet sessions stayed about the same (~7%) Share of sessions via desktop (includes laptop) dropped significantly (from 80% to 66%) Share of sessions via mobile devices (not including tablet) more than doubled (from 13% to 27%) Within the last year, we saw the combined mobile and tablet percentage exceed one-third of all sessions.

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5 Factors to Building a Successful Government-wide Digital Analytics Program

Launched just three years ago, the Digital Analytics Program (DAP) continues to drive the 2012 Digital Government Strategy’s mission to improve the citizen experience by streamlining the collection and analysis of digital analytics data on a federal government-wide scale. The DAP officially launched on October 15, 2012 with a release of its first version of the government-wide Web analytics code. The first agency to implement DAP was the Department of Interior, on doi.

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Gov Analytics Breakdown #1 – Browsers: Chrome Takes the Cake

If you were visiting a federal government website two years ago, the best odds were that you’d have been using Internet Explorer as your Internet browser. But today, that’s no longer the case. Within just the last year, Chrome has taken over the top spot as the browser most used to view federal websites, according to data from the Digital Analytics Program (DAP), and it seems to show no signs of slowing.

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Optimizing Social at Peace Corps: Not a Zero-Sum Game

At the Peace Corps, we continually try to find new ways to test, measure and optimize our marketing and communications initiatives. Recently, we embarked on a project to design a framework to test and optimize content on the social media platforms we use to engage our stakeholders. This process required us to reboot our expectations in terms of measurement and re-think our social goals, but in the end it has made our decision-making process much stronger.

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NASA + Lunar Eclipse = A Super(moon) Match Made in Metrics Heaven

NASA’s reach over the last 24 hours eclipsed that of the regulars typically seen in government digital metrics. But, all agencies can drive the conversation and accomplish a similar feat with a good content strategy. NASA defines a supermoon, which appears approximately 14 percent larger in diameter due to its proximity to the Earth, as a full or new moon that falls closest to the fall equinox, and is at its closest approach to the Earth.

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Setting Up a Performance Measurement Team

As part of an organizational shift to functional teams at GSA’s Federal Citizen Information Center (FCIC), we created a Performance Measurement Team that consolidates data analysis for our websites, contact center channels, and marketing channels. Instead of looking at metrics within the bubble of each program, we’re beginning to leverage insights across programs. These are the steps we’ve taken so far: Drafted a Plan We came up with a Performance Measurement Plan that describes the team’s role within the organization; identifies high-level goals for each channel; names team members and their areas of specialty; and maps out some specific projects and expectations on reporting.

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Caution: Your Web Analytics Might Not Be Human

A Digital Analytics Program (DAP) user recently contacted me with an observation/problem: The data he had from his website’s independent Web-analytics account was much, much higher than the data he was receiving in the DAP user interface. Theoretically, both tools (in this case, two separate Google Analytics accounts), were trying to measure the same thing, and he couldn’t figure out why the numbers would be so different. When I say different, I mean substantially so.

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Analytics Pitfall: Avoid this Common Implementation Mistake

In large agencies, lots of Web teams touch digital analytics in one way or another, and we have had the pleasure of working with teams both within and outside our agency. For us, hearing from a diverse set of perspectives has been a great learning experience. However, over the course of many meetings, we have also come to notice one critical misconception that has found firm footing in the federal digital analytics space: the belief that you do not need to track visits (or sessions) across subdomains.

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Secure Central Hosting for the Digital Analytics Program

The U.S. government’s Digital Analytics Program (DAP) collects Web traffic and analytics data from across the federal government. That data flows into a very large central account, and some of that data is automatically made public in real time at analytics.usa.gov. To accomplish this feat, participating federal websites need to add a [CODE] reference to a standard bit of JavaScript code. Until now, the only option agencies have had is to host this JavaScript file themselves, like this:

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Analytics Restoration: Improving on a Classic

Sometimes it is important to take a fresh look at a classic. As we digital analysts can attest, the array of software now available to our respective analytics programs has grown tremendously over the past few years. Even as we play catch-up to our private sector leaders, many digital analytics programs across the federal government can now boast an inventory far greater than lone Web traffic or quality assurance (QA) software.

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Need Actionable Analytics Reports? Here’s Help

The Digital Analytics Program (DAP) provides a wealth of standard Web analytics reports within its current Web analytics tool (Google Analytics Premium). Yet, navigating through big data with a standard report can be a challenge and definitely takes a few clicks. To quickly get to the insights of your agency websites’ traffic, building your own custom reports and segments is the way to go. As part of its on-going effort to educate and empower DAP users with Web analytics knowledge, the DAP team has put together the DAP Custom Reporting Catalog with many of the frequently used custom templates.

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Taking a Data-Driven Approach to Digital Marketing at the Peace Corps

What exactly does being “data-driven” mean for digital marketing and communications practitioners in the federal government? It is easy to be awed by the new shiny platforms and services that promise to change how things are done in government. Fundamentally, though, it is thinking about analytics not just from a descriptive mindset but one of experimentation, optimization and measurement. It is about culture change so it is not as glamorous, not as easy, but necessary if you really want to be data-driven.

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Dwarf Planet, Giant Numbers: NASA’s Mission to Pluto Goes Global

Even on a “slow” day, NASA is a pretty cool place to work, but the cool factor gets cranked way up when the whole world joins in the adventure. That’s what happened this week when the New Horizons spacecraft arrived at Pluto after decade-long, three-billion-mile journey through the solar system. New Horizons has already sent back never-before seen images of the dwarf planet, and it is collecting so much data that it will take 16 months to send it all back to Earth.

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Analytics Prove People Care About Space (and Pluto!)

Despite the fact that Pluto has been downgraded to a “dwarf planet”, the analytics of federal government websites prove there are still a lot of people who want to get an up-close look. NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, a project over nine years in the making, flew by Pluto this morning at approximately 7:49 a.m. The project should produce the highest quality photos of the former planet and its largest moon, Charon, that anyone on Earth has ever seen.

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DigitalGov Podcast: DAP Delivers Data for 4,000 Websites

You cannot improve your digital outreach without data. Since 2012, the Digital Analytics Program (DAP) has provided agencies the critical information and metrics that they need to make their public-facing websites better. The buzz around DAP has grown with the release of the Digital Analytics Dashboard, which provides a real-time glimpse into government Web traffic, and Pulse, a dashboard showing the percentage of agencies that have implemented DAP. Both dashboards rely on DAP data to inform the public about government Web activities.

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Using a Hypothesis-Driven Approach in Analyzing (and Making Sense) of Your Website Traffic Data

At the Digital Analytics Program (DAP), some of the most frequently asked questions we get are “how can I get access to the DAP data?” and “what do I do with all this data?” We all know that data is knowledge, and knowledge is power, but once we have access to it and realize that it is, indeed, oceans of data, how do we not “drown” in it, and, perhaps more importantly, how do we make sense of it?

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Updated: Live Blogging the Analytics Dashboard on #TaxDay

2 a.m. EDT, April 16 Looks like the traffic peak for #TaxDay was around 3:00 pm when 194,301 people were on government sites. We’re now less than one-quarter of that traffic, and the more regular patterns of top sites are reasserting themselves. We’re talking about YOU, NASA astronomy picture of the day and that wonderful one-armed spiral galaxy. Welcome back! And, it’s a wrap. Thanks for following along as we explored a day in the federal web.

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Social Sharing Buttons: Location, Location, Location

DigitalGov has seen posts from members of the community who land on opposite sides regarding social sharing buttons. There are those who find social sharing buttons useful (When Sharing Buttons Work and those who’ve found the opposite (To Use Social Sharing Buttons or Not. I’d argue the utility can be found in adjusting how, or more specifically where, you use them. But first… The Basics What are social sharing buttons?

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Why Your Social Traffic Looks Low in Analytics Tools

Part of my job as an analyst on the Digital Analytics Program (DAP) team is to help agency users try to make sense of digital analytics data by using web analytics tools. I love that part of my job, but there’s one question I get asked far too much: “Why does my traffic referred from social media look so incredibly low?” In response, I hope the next sentence brings a sigh of relief to many federal social media managers who are wondering why the heck their hard work doesn’t look like it is paying off when they use Google Analytics, WebTrends, or Omniture to gauge success.

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Turning Government Data into Better Public Service

Every day, millions of people use their laptops, phones, and tablets to check the status of their tax refund, get the latest forecast from the National Weather Service, book a campsite at one of our national parks, and much more. There were more than 1.3 billion visits to websites across the federal government in just the past 90 days. Today, during Sunshine Week when we celebrate openness and transparency in government, we are pleased to release the Digital Analytics Dashboard, a new window into the way people access the government online.

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What is the Digital Analytics Program (DAP)?

The Digital Analytics Program (DAP) is a cornerstone of the 2012 Digital Government Strategy’s mission to improve the citizen experience by streamlining the collection and analysis of digital analytics data on a federal government-wide scale. The DAP, provided by GSA to all federal executive branch agencies, delivers digital analytics tools (like Web analytics and customer satisfaction survey tools), performance metrics guidance, metrics benchmarks, and training, all at no cost.

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Digital Analytics Program Among Finalists for Igniting Innovation Award

The federal government has IT challenges, and innovative federal projects are tackling those challenges head-on. As projects gain momentum, outside organizations have taken notice. Recently, Data.gov and DigitalGov’s Digital Analytics Program (DAP) were recognized by the American Council for Technology and Industry Advisory Council (ACT-IAC), among 30 other finalists for the Igniting Innovation Award. ACT-IAC’s 2015 Igniting Innovation Showcase and Awards recognized tools, solutions, services and programs developed by government and industry leaders.

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U.S. Public Participation Playbook Open for Coders and Designers on GitHub

We released the United States Public Participation Playbook this week, a new open resource agencies can use to evaluate and build better programs that give a voice to the people they serve—and the response was fantastic. Public servants and citizens around the world have shared it, and already are contributing new ideas that build from the work of the team of 70 federal leaders, more than a dozen engagement experts, and citizens themselves who worked together to launch it.

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15 Government Customer Service Trends for 2015

With public expectations at an all-time high, and trust in government nearing all-time lows, agencies need to step up their game. Veterans, seniors, students, taxpayers—all Americans—deserve the best service from their government. Here are our predictions for how the federal government will improve customer service in the coming year: 1. Many agencies will create a Customer Office that reports to the head of the agency. In most government agencies, no one owns the overall customer experience.

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Countdown to 2015 with Our Most Popular Articles This Year

As we round out 2014, we’re reflecting on the exciting year we’ve had at DigitalGov since we launched in February. Our mission is to share information and resources from agencies across the federal government that are working in the digital space, and highlight the services and communities that can help you meet your digital government goals. We look forward to bringing you more great content in 2015, but first we wanted to highlight the most popular articles on DigitalGov this year.

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3rd U.S. Public Participation Playbook Draft Released This Month

The new third draft of the U.S. Public Participation Playbook continues to incorporate changes proposed from more than 100 suggestions submitted via public comment aimed at measuring the performance and improving the development of government programs. It takes the 13 initial “plays” from rough brainstorming and collaborations to a more refined, action-focused presentation that will help contributors understand and identify opportunities to contribute, based on feedback. The U.

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Crowdsourced Digital Citizen Services Summit

In May 2015, we’re hosting the second DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit. This round we are looking to you—federal innovators across government—to help build the agenda. We want to get you the information you need, ignite discussion, foster sharing, build capacity, even get you to challenge and debate each other in the name of delivering better digital services. So, we’ve set up a crowdsourcing platform where you can suggest presentation ideas and vote for your favorites.

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Interior and USDA Talk Social Media Success

When it comes to implementing a social media strategy, determining how to measure success can be challenging. Yes, knowing how many followers and likes you have is beneficial. However, to really get valuable results from the trove of social media data monitor, social media managers first need to understand what they are measuring and why. When you know your goals, you can determine what channels you will use to get there.

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Use Metrics to Drive Success

Would federal employees work on tasks outside their agency in order to support DigitalGov? That’s the question we wanted to answer as we created the Open Opportunities program. We had a built-in test case. When the Digital Government Strategy was released in May 2013, agencies were tasked with building APIs, launching mobile products, establishing digital governance and getting better customer feedback. Our team at GSA was chartered to support agencies, and we were looking for innovators across government to contribute.

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Web Design Changes? Let the Metrics be Your Guide

On September 6, 2013 at 11:27 p.m., EDT., viewers tuned in through the Internet to watch NASA launch its Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft. As viewers logged onto the website, something unusual happened. For the first time, metrics indicated that NASA.gov’s mobile users outpaced their desktop users. 93 percent of their viewers were watching the launch from a mobile device. At the time, NASA Web managers were already considering changing their website.

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Metrics Round Up

We are all collecting a lot of performance data across our digital properties and DigitalGov University has hosted many events on the collection, reporting and strategizing around metrics. DigitalGov has shared many posts on these topics as well. So we thought it would be great to curate these events and posts for easy reference and sharing. Data Collection If you are having a hard time measuring the success of your social media efforts, email campaigns or even your website, these are some of the events that’ll help.

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Secrets to a Dynamite Public Sector Analytics Program

Uncovering meaningful analytics from months or years of Web metrics is daunting, at best. So how do you make great Web improvements using metrics? Whether you’re just getting started in Web analytics or you want to take your program to the next level, you should focus on accurate data, customer service, and concrete goals, said Sam Bronson, Web Analytics Program Manager at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in a Sept.

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What Do Dear Abby and the Federal Government Have in Common?

Lots of people ask us questions. So it only makes sense for us to partner up to answer some of those questions. Since the 1970’s, USA.gov has partnered with Dear Abby to help get free printed government publications on a variety of topics (health, disaster preparedness, caring for aging loved ones, etc.) into the hands of the people who need them most. While much of the work at USA.

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Member Spotlight – Hannah Rubin, Library of Congress

Meet Hannah Rubin, who works in the Congressional Research Service (CRS) at the Library of Congress. She’s the focus of this month’s Member Spotlight. In addition to her “real” job, she’s also currently working as a “20%-er” with the DigitalGov User Experience Program via our Open Opportunities program. What do you love most about your current job/position? CRS has a unique mission: to provide objective, nonpartisan, confidential, and authoritative research and analysis for Congress throughout the legislative process.

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National Cancer Institute Launches New User Experience Lab

Why does a Cancer institute need a User Experience lab? Simply put: To learn about their customers—people living with cancer and those who care about them—and build the best possible products with them in mind. “Cancer has a journey and we wanted to create a lab to capture the substance of that journey, understand what is needed and help design technologies to support people affected by cancer,” said Silvia Inéz Salazar, an Informatics Research Laboratory Manager at the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

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Actionable Web Analytics: A Three-Step Process

As Web analysts, your customers and their needs can vary greatly. One minute you are leading an analysis that will influence strategic decisions, the next you are distributing reports to folks who will never use them, but just have to have them. Sometimes, in the darkest hours, it can become more of the latter. That’s when you risk falling into a routine; when you risk forgetting the real power of Web analytics—effecting change.

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How to Find Your Open Data Hotshots

How can you find the top 5 users of your open data? We were recently asked this question on the Open Data listserv, and while this information can be a good measure of success for open data programs, we also figured some of the answers shared would be of interest to the broader community. This blog post seeks to summarize and clarify those answers. What Defines a Top Third-Party Developer?

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Heat Mapping Case Study: Epa.gov Homepage

Most people relate the term “heat map” with something they see during the weather forecast on the nightly news, those colorful maps that vividly illustrate how hot it’s going to be during an impending heat wave. The word “heat map” may not usually however, conjure up images of a widely used Web usability tool; but for those who manage Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) website, that is exactly what the phrase brings to mind.

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The Power of Email Marketing

If you aren’t currently including email marketing in your digital outreach efforts, you’re missing out. Think about email marketing in the same way you think about tools like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and your website. It’s another digital platform that allows you to reach your customers and achieve your goals. Email marketing can be used in different ways, depending on your communications goals. You can build brand awareness. You can drive action from your subscribers to complete a task on your website.

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Using Analytics to Create Change: USA.gov Usability Case Study

While many people tout the death of the home page, it’s still an important piece of the user experience on USA.gov. In 2013, 30% of all sessions on USA.gov included the home page—that’s 8.67 million sessions. The numbers for GobiernoUSA.gov are even higher—79% of all sessions included the home page. According to Jakob Nielsen, “A homepage has two main goals: to give users information, and to provide top-level navigation to additional information inside the site.

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U.S. Gov Releases New Collaborative Social Media Services

The Federal #SocialGov Community, a collective of almost 700 digital engagement managers from more than 120 government agencies, marked the 2nd anniversary of our program by releasing a suite of new collaborative services to help us better work together and with partners in the private sector to share resources and build public services of the 21st century. The online event, U.S. Federal SocialGov: 2 years of Smashing Silos + Elevating Citizen Services, focused on how collaborative, open participation in the development process will help public services better tackle performance analysis, policy development, accessibility for persons with disabilities, international partnerships and global digital engagement support.

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You Have the Data, Make the Most of It

With Web analytics tools you have the data to see what citizens really want on your website and how well you are delivering. You have an opportunity to make informed decisions on improvements to your site to reflect the voice of the customer and get constituents what they need. Here are three key steps to help you get started making the most of your data. You can also download and use my new quarterly report metrics template, check out other reporting templates, and read up on Google Analytics for government.

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The Golden Metric

Are you looking for the “golden metric” that is the best measure of your agency’s website performance and cross-comparable across .gov websites? If so, stop looking. The concept of the golden metric is a dangerous one because it oversimplifies performance analysis of your website and overlooks the truth hidden behind other, more relevant metrics. Don’t get me wrong—it is easy to fall for the concept of the golden metric.

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Government CX: Where Do You Find the Right Foundational Metrics?

Customer service. Customer satisfaction. Improving the customer experience. These buzzwords have become well-trodden territory among government strategists as a new wave of agencies attempt to ignite—or reignite—a focus on customers. Of course, putting customers first is a worthy goal. But what, exactly, do we mean when we use words like “service” and “satisfaction”? These terms are easily understood in the abstract; however, precisely because of their broad, abstract nature, they can also become roadblocks for pinpointing the specific metrics—and sparking the right strategic conversations—that lead to true customer-oriented improvements.

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Search Engine Optimization for Government Websites

On June 10, 2014, the Metrics Community of Practice of the Federal Web Managers Council and DigitalGov University hosted an event to honor the memory of Joe Pagano, a former co-chair of the Web Metrics Sub-Council. This third lecture honoring Joe focused on search engine optimization (SEO). While commercial search engines do a remarkable job of helping the public find our government information, as Web professionals, it’s also our job to help the public make sense of what they find.

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Overcoming Barriers—DigitalGov Summit Recap

As government innovators, we work to improve public services every day. In essence we are already in a public private partnership. But how can your agency capitalize on existing public private partnerships to engage citizens and enhance services? Four panelists from across government shared their public private partnerships success stories at the DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit last Friday. The three other panels were on performance analysis, customer service across channels, and inter-agency work.

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The Importance of Cross-Channel Customer Service—DigitalGov Summit Recap

During the DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit last Friday, customer service experts from across government came together on a panel to share what customer service means to them and their organization and specific ways they leverage it. The other panels were on performance analysis, public private partnerships, and inter-agency work. The panelists spoke about the strategies they use to integrate multi-channel customer service and the organizational barriers they’ve encountered. The panelists acknowledged that while the the government, as a whole, has room for improvement in providing truly integrated cross-channel customer service, leadership is beginning to recognize the importance and cost-savings, not to mention happy customers, it brings.

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Evaluating Digital Communication: An International Incident

Are you measuring Twitter followers and press release downloads without any clue as to what people are doing with your agency’s products and information? Or do you not even know what to measure, never mind whether that measurement would be meaningful? Fear not, fair government communicator—there is hope! On May 15, top government communication measurement experts from the U.S., U.K., and Canada presented on Evaluating the Effectiveness of Government Digital Communications via DigitalGov University.

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Harnessing the Power of Many—DigitalGov Summit Recap

At the DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit last Friday, Jacob Parcell, Manager, Mobile Programs at the General Services Administration led a panel on the challenges and benefits of Inter-Agency work. The other panels were on performance analysis, customer service across channels, and public private partnerships. “The challenges are real,” said Parcell, who quoted President Obama’s famous salmon quandary: “The Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they’re in fresh water, but the Commerce Department handles them when they’re in saltwater,” Obama said.

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Turning Data Into Action—DigitalGov Summit Recap

At the DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit last Friday, more than 200 innovators across government and industry came together to share how digital services can improve citizen services and reduce cost. Four panels convened to share information on performance analysis, customer service across channels, public private partnerships and inter-agency work. We have a recap of the Performance Analysis Panel below. How do you show and track performance in 21st century digital government?

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DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit a Success

We had a GREAT DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit today. There were more than 200 digital innovators from across government and industry working to build the 21st century government the public expects. The four panels focused on performance analysis, customer service across channels, inter-agency work, and public private partnerships. Here’s what you missed in a short highlight video. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EIWwnomPxo4&w=600]

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Ignite with Us

Have a DigitalGov success?—published an API? Got buy-in from leadership? Changed a part of your customer-service paradigm? Developed a cool dashboard? Got the app out the door? Heck! Have you prototyped a wearable, drivable or flyable? Have a DigitalGov opinion?—think we should be focusing more or less on something? Have an idea on how to improve development? Want to share your digital gov mantra? Internet of things? You are doing and thinking a lot, and we have a place for a few of you smarties to share with other agencies.

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Sign up For DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit, Friday, May 30

We won’t build the government of the 21st century by drawing within the lines. We don’t have to tell you the hard work of building a digital government doesn’t exist in a vacuum or a bubble. Show us social media without mobile, Web without data and user experience without APIs. You can’t? That’s right—in reality, digital government intersects and cuts across boundaries every day in order to deliver the digital goods.

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New Google Analytics for Government Training Manual

Looking for a training manual on how to use Google Analytics for your agency? Here’s your answer. I released a second edition of my Google Analytics for Government training manual. Download your copy today**** (PDF, 4.94 MB, 65 pages, May 2014) and be sure to check out my other resources on creating awesome Web analytics reports. Excerpt from the Google Analytics for Government, Second Edition Welcome to the Second Edition of Google Analytics for Government Two years ago when I set out to write a manual on using Google Analytics to improve government websites, I never imagined how far this manual would travel.

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Analyzing Search Data in Real-Time to Drive Decisions

DigitalGov Search recently rolled out a new open source technology stack, which gives the team access to real-time analytics and dashboards to monitor search trends. The ELK stack consists of Elasticsearch, a real-time search and analytics engine; Logstash, a log management tool; and Kibana, a data visualization engine for creating dashboards. The dashboard-building capabilities surface trends not seen otherwise when buried in the data, Ammie Farraj Feijoo, manager of DigitalGov Search said in a recent article in GCN.

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When Sharing Buttons Work

At the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) we use sharing buttons on our website to help people share content from web pages with their colleagues and friends. With one click, a user can post a page’s link to popular social networking sites or send it via e-mail. The article To Use Social Sharing Buttons or Not looks at some ways that social sharing buttons are actually used. Here’s a look at what works for us.

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Digital Analytics Program (DAP): Oceans of Data

In the last 15 months, the federal Digital Analytics Program (DAP) monthly Web traffic has grown to more than 1.1 billion views gov-wide, providing Web analytics to 29 U.S. federal cabinet-level agencies and nearly 3,000 public-facing government Web properties. The mission of the DAP is to help improve digital citizen services by providing comprehensive digital analytics, training and best practices to agencies. Information reported in DAP Web Analytics is a gold mine for research and analysis for improving the effectiveness, efficiency and relevancy of information and services provided on the government websites.

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Customize Your Own Amazing Social Media Report Infographic

Social Media Community of Practice developed a set of baseline social media metrics to help you assess whether your efforts are achieving the results you want. How do you take the next step and present your data in a way that tells a comprehensive story and grabs your stakeholders’ attention? Sarah Kaczmarek, from GAO, developed an infographic template to help you bring together your data in one amazing report. You can also use the template to help you present answers to seven key questions about your social media channels:

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Creating Awesome Web Analytics Reports and Presentations

Collecting visitor, engagement, and traffic data for your digital channels is nothing new. By this time, you have a lot of data about your website. How do you use and present that data to make meaningful recommendations? How do you use the data to tell a story and grab your stakeholders’ attention? Sarah Kaczmarek, from GAO, has worked with GSA on a series of webinars to answer these questions.

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Top 8 Best Practices for Federal Contact Centers

1. Meet all Laws, Requirements, Policies, and Directives for Federal Contact Centers Understand and follow all Privacy, Security, Disability, and Service Contract Act requirements. 2. Use Performance Metrics to Influence Business Rules and Drive Improvements Develop Key Performance Indicators/Metrics (see Performance Goals). CSLIC could be used as a start. 3. Develop and Use a Comprehensive Quality Assurance Program Monitor quality. Use data to provide feedback to website/content team.

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NPS.gov Use of Digital Analytics Program: Beyond the Numbers

The National Park Service website, NPS.gov, is home to sites for the parks, programs, and subject-related content about the places and ideas that we preserve and protect for the American people. With roughly a thousand content authors dispersed across the country, NPS.gov receives nearly 50 million page views per month during the peak summer season, when visitors are planning their vacations. In February 2013, the NPS migrated from Adobe SiteCatalyst to the Digital Analytics Program (DAP) solution.

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Understanding Your Users’ Needs By Analyzing Search Terms

Analyzing your visitors’ search terms can help you better understand their needs. It can provide valuable data about the content and organization of the content on your site. Create a Semi-Automated Report of Terms Here’s how to create a semi-automated report for analyzing large amounts of search data on a regular basis. A human still needs to review the data for changes and new trends, but this process can save a lot of time once you have a solid understanding of the data and the spreadsheet functions in place.

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Hosting Successful Federal Twitter Chats

One way to leverage Twitter, beyond the basics of sending messages and engaging in dialogue, is to organize a Town Hall discussion, or Twitter chat. New guidance on preparing a live chat is now available, and we need your agencies to contribute your own policies and experiences to make it complete. So let’s start by identifying the key ingredients to most effectively engage with citizens and make your Twitter Town Hall a success.

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Communication is Key in Measuring Customer Experience

As mentioned in previous blog posts, great efforts have been made in creating a Customer Experience program and a Customer Experience (CX) index in our Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies (OCSIT) at GSA. Our office manages well over 10 programs, including websites, a contact center, search services, and other tools. And we wanted to be able to create a picture of how our office is performing as a whole, in the eyes of our customers.

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Digital Analytics Program Goes To The Moon!

On Feb. 15, 2013, a meteor weighing 10,000 metric tons exploded 14 miles above Chelyabinsk, Russia. Users flocked to NASA.gov for info, and we spiked to nearly 12 million page views that day, ~16 times the daily average. Our real-time analytics showed over 300,000 active visitors on the site at peak, about 100 times more than normal traffic. And, not surprisingly, we could see a huge chunk of this traffic was coming from Russia.

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Better Performance and Metric Downloads Now Available From Go.USA.gov

A few weeks ago, the Go.USA.gov URL shortener introduced several new features to improve the user experience. Go.USA.gov now offers users faster speeds and downloadable metric information about their links. The service, which launched in 2009, gives government agencies the ability to provide trustworthy shortened links to their audience. Just a few weeks ago, we finished completely re-engineering the back-end of the site to fix the slow speeds. Additionally, the back-end improvements have allowed us to re-enable the CSV export function that was taken offline back in 2010.

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Getting Started with the Digital Analytics Program

The Digital Analytics Program (DAP) is delighted to announce the launch of a DAP user group and new training program. These initiatives will support DAP users in getting the most from their implementation. The kick-off for this user group will be on Thursday, September 12, 2013, when we will host a webinar to welcome users and discuss how a user group can provide the most benefit. Meeting invitations with login instructions will be sent to directly to these users two weeks before the meeting.

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Digital Metrics for Federal Agencies

Digital metrics are critical for measuring, analyzing, and reporting on the effectiveness of your Web, mobile, social media, and other digital channels. Every agency should have a metrics strategy to measure performance, customer satisfaction, and engagement, and use the data to make continuous improvements to serve its customers. Part 1: Common Metrics: Guidance, Best Practices, and Tools Part 2: Reporting Requirements and Common Tools Part 3: Rationale and Framework for Common Metrics and Measures Part 4: Case Studies, Training, and Additional Resources Part 1: Common Metrics—Guidance, Best Practices, and Tools Agencies should ensure that they collect, analyze, and report on a minimum baseline set of performance and customer satisfaction measures.

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Social Media Metrics for Federal Agencies

Social media is transforming how government engages with citizens and how it delivers service. Agencies are using social media to share information and deliver service more quickly and effectively than ever before. Increasingly, these tools are also being used for predictive and sentiment analysis—using the vast amount of real-time data from these social platforms to predict emerging trends and respond to them quickly (referred to as “social data”).

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API Analytics

Similar to website analytics, API analytics focus on reliably reporting the metrics which are most useful to its stakeholders. There are a many ways of collecting, reporting, and consuming API analytics but all revolve around the industry–accepted norm that some form of analytics are crucial to any API program. The most basic metrics will track the number of API registrations and the number of API requests, but as important as understanding how much an API is used is understanding how it is used.

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Analytics, APIs and Open Content Resources

Agencies have been working away at building better digital services and here, at the Digital Services Innovation Center, we’ve been building resources to help. We have been focusing on three areas, The Digital Analytics Program. We announced this program in early October to help agencies better measure performance and customer satisfaction to improve service delivery. It includes digital metrics guidance and best practices, training and a federal-wide Web analytics tool and support.

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comScore Report, October 2012

In October 2012, comScore, a Web analytics research company, released an independently produced report that analyzes 75 federal agency websites on a range of quantitative and qualitative factors. The report was provided to GSA as part of GSA’s contract with comScore to collect analytics on federal websites. This report focuses on consumer impressions of public websites. comScore gets its data from representative consumer panels, so the analysis does not include business or government users.

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Feds Shed Light on Dark Social

“Dark Social” media took the web by storm this week, unveiling to many the shadows in measuring your social media impact. This accounts for the majority of your traffic and yet lives untraced where standard metrics fear to tread (or simply cannot) — places like email and instant messaging. Alexis Madrigal, senior editor of The Atlantic, proposed last week in a post: “The sharing you see on sites like Facebook and Twitter is the tip of the ‘social’ iceberg.

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MedlinePlus Mobile Evaluation

_Mobile Gov Experiences are agency stories about creating anytime, anywhere, any device government services and info. This entry is a story shared by the National Library of Medicine.__ _ The National Library of Medicine (NLM) launched MedlinePlus Mobile (m.medlineplus.gov) in January 2010 to provide authoritative consumer-level health information to a growing audience of mobile Internet users. MedlinePlus Mobile is a mobile-optimized Web site that contains a subset of the content that users can find on the full MedlinePlus site (http://medlineplus.

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Tell Compelling Stories with Data Visualization

No information is more critical to your work than the numbers that reveal what’s happening, how you’re performing, and opportunities to do better. GovTech provides ten tips for getting the most from your data visualizations. The tips include: Use layers to tell a story Involve users in the design Be aware of multiple platforms Use style to tell a story In government services, the challenge merely begins with collecting vital data.

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