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Analytics

Using Journey Mapping to Streamline Processes Across Agencies

This post was originally published on the USA.gov blog. An agency information sharing exercise to improve the customer experience, as related to the Office of Products and Programs’ Information Exchange Project Some people experience challenges navigating government services – especially if they need to work with more than one agency. Based on this premise, we set out to find out how agencies could share information with one another to improve the customer experience.

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Making Customer Satisfaction Data Actionable at the Peace Corps

For the past couple of years, the Peace Corps has used online-based intercept surveys on peacecorps.gov to measure user satisfaction. The data captured over time has been interesting, but has not varied much month-to-month, which has made it difficult to translate insight into actionable enhancements on the website. In order to get more out of the user satisfaction data, we developed a framework that applies statistical models to the data collected that identify key performance indicators (KPIs) that have the greatest likelihood to increase overall user satisfaction.

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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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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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Letting Go of 85 Percent of Our Email Subscribers

Late last year, Business.USA.gov (BUSA) began transitioning its web presence to USA.gov and with its content, came its social media and email accounts. While transferring ownership of a Twitter account is fairly easy to do from a technical standpoint, transferring email ownership and tools is not. We had to tackle several things at the start of this project: Build new pages where people could sign up to get emails.

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Automatic HTTPS Enforcement for New Executive Branch .Gov Domains

HTTPS is a necessary baseline for security on the modern web. Non-secure HTTP connections lack integrity protection, and can be used to attack citizens, foreign nationals, and government staff. HTTPS provides increased confidentiality, authenticity, and integrity that mitigate these attacks. In June 2015, the White House required all new federal web services to support and enforce HTTPS connections over the public internet, and for agencies to migrate existing web services to HTTPS by the end of calendar year 2016.

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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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Applying Customer Service Metrics to Improve Customer Experience (CX)

Lately, I’ve looked at how a government agency measures a customer’s experience. It’s such a complex topic that I would need more than one blog to discuss the nuances behind it. In my last blog, I examined and brokedown three types of customer service metrics: customer satisfaction (CSAT), Net Promoter Score (NPS), and Customer Effort Score (CES). This one is about identifying how easy it is to work with your organization and discover ways to improve service delivery.

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Social Media Data Deep Dive: Turning Findings into Action

GobiernoUSA, just like USA.gov, is part of a unique effort with a large mission—to guide people to the government information and services they seek. We cover a lot of topics in Spanish via our website, social media platforms, email sends, and contact center. One of the communication channels we focus a lot of attention on is social media, and we routinely measure how our efforts are going. We focused first on our assumed engagement power hitter – Facebook, to learn more from its Insights analytics data.

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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 New Vote.gov: Leaner, Faster and Multi-Lingual

One year ago this week, we launched vote.gov (also known as vote.usa.gov). It’s a concise and simple site with a single mission: direct citizens through the voter registration process as quickly as possible. It was created by a joint team of USA.gov staffers and Presidential Innovation Fellows, all of whom work within the General Services Administration (GSA). Did it work? Yes. In fact, it worked so well that Facebook made it the destination for their 2016 voter registration drive.

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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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The Content Corner: Quality Over Quantity—a Case for Long-Form Content

****Content can be categorized in many ways. While breaking down your website analytics, pay a bit of extra attention to the difference between your short- and long-form content; you may find some interesting discoveries. Let’s first define the two terms: Short – Content that is generally created quickly, and consumed just as fast; e.g., tweets, status updates, short blogs and articles (350 words or less). Long – In-depth content designed to give a large amount of detail and info; e.

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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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Trends on Tuesday: Adoption for Pokémon Go Mobile App Goes Crazy

Augmented Reality games have existed for years, but have mostly failed to catch a mainstream audience; Pokémon Go just changed all that this weekend. The game that launched early this month has exploded in popularity and is close to surpassing Twitter in daily active users, according to Forbes’ Jason Evangelho. “The data gets even more staggering. As of 48 hours ago, Pokémon GO was installed on 5.6% of all Android devices in the United States, and is installed on more Android phones than Tinder (insert “Pokémon is now more popular than sex” joke here),” he cited.

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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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Trends on Tuesday: What Kind of Apps Will Users Return To?

Flurry Analytics, a mobile application analytics company owned by Yahoo!, released a new report about app retention. Unless your app usage is around “gambling”—with cards (game apps), with your money (finance apps), with whether or not to bring an umbrella (weather apps), or with your health (fitness apps)—user retention and re-engagement is often a steep wall to climb. The research shows that top trends across Android and Apple apps are similar, but Android users appear to be a little more choosey when it comes to re-using an app: after 30 days, Android app retention clusters around 10%, compared to 14% for Apple.

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Kids.Gov Reenvisioned

At USAGov, we always put our customers first. In the wake of our rebranding efforts, our desire to create a positive user experience across the organization has pushed us to turn a scrutinous eye toward Kids.gov — a site focused on providing information and resources to parents, teachers, and kids. In a cross-organizational effort, individuals from the marketing, user experience, and performance measurement teams have joined forces to “reenvision” the site’s content and presentation to better suit the public’s needs.

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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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Tag Management: A Digital Analyst’s Best Friend

Tag managers can assist in collecting valuable data about visits to your website. Here at CFPB, we use Google Tag Manager (GTM), which is a free tool that works in tandem with Google Analytics to record and send data on how users interact with your website on an aggregate level, including which pages they view, where they click and what they download. It requires one line of code to be added to your site.

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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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Analytics.usa.gov: Now with Agency-Specific Dashboards

We’ve added agency-specific dashboards to analytics.usa.gov! Starting today, you’ll see a dropdown from the main analytics.usa.gov page that allows you to view the same dashboard, but filtered for websites that are administered by one of 10 specific agencies: Department of Commerce Department of Education Department of Energy Department of the Interior Department of Justice Department of Veterans Affairs Environmental Protection Agency National Aeronautics and Space Administration National Archives and Records Administration Small Business Administration What Do These Pages Show Me?

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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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What Are Your Customers Searching For?

What are your agency’s website visitors looking for? Can they find it easily? How do you know? Search analytics provide valuable data that can positively affect an agency’s Web strategy. This topic was the focus of a recent webinar, Show Me the Data: Leveraging Analytics in DigitalGov Search. Dawn Pointer McCleskey, acting program manager for DigitalGov Search, discussed how agencies can leverage their search to improve the quality of their agency’s website.

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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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Best Practices for Remote User Experience Research

Once simply an idea, remote data gathering is now a very important reality in UCD (user-centered design) work. However, there are some challenges, particularly when your agency serves the entire nation and all of the groups in it. Identifying and finding solutions for these issues will help you best use this important tool. One of the most difficult problems is that you don’t have physical access to your users. In some cases, this is just the way it is—it’s basically impossible to try and observe everyone doing everything.

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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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How to Use Remote Data Strategically in UX

One of the challenges UX practitioners can face is how to communicate much of the data that’s out there. The key word is “communicate.” Since many of us are used to qualitative findings, making the jump to “hard data” can be a challenge. There are tools out there that make this easier, but we still need some explanations and/or translations. First, let me be clear that I am not endorsing any product or technique.

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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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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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Speed Matters: Optimizing Your Website For Maximum Performance

Every second counts, even those precious two or three seconds it takes your website to load. When it comes to mobile, users won’t wait. During a recent DigitalGov University webinar, Jeremy Vanderlan, Technical Deputy for AIDS.gov, explained how even fractions of a second can have a negative impact on a user’s impression of your website. Performance/load time for Web pages has become so important that Google now considers it one of three equal components to good user experience, along with design and functionality, he noted.

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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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Monthly Theme: Learning to Ride the Metrics Wave

We are awash in data. Data in our personal lives gives us information on everything from our nightly sleeping patterns to how many of our friends shared our latest quip on social media. So too in our professional world, where we can see the most popular devices people use to navigate our websites and are told which time of day is the best to send out our communications. All of this data can help us make smart decisions that will ultimately provide our customers with a better experience—but only if we know what our end goals are and what metrics we need to measure to get there.

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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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Journey Mapping the Customer Experience: A USA.gov Case Study

Journey maps are a visual representation of a customer’s end to end journey with your product or service. They are a powerful tool for exploring key interactions and experiences with your organization, programs, and/or services. Journey maps describe a customer’s entire journey, even the parts that occur before and after contact with your organization. They typically contain elements such as the customer’s attitudes, emotions, and needs. We recently updated USA.

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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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The Content Corner: Determining Your User’s Needs

I recently wrapped up a series of user interviews as part of a review of our judiciary-wide intranet in order to provide better digital services to our customers (and yes, our internal users are our customers, not just the general public). As I prepare to delve back into determining user and content needs for a more varied audience and wider platform, I thought it might be helpful to share lessons learned during my recent effort and any new strategies that might be helpful for anyone getting ready to jump into their users’ brains.

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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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Creating a Social Media Report That Matters

As with any communications effort, the social media bottom line comes down to impact. Can you prove that the time, money and effort put into social media helped achieve your agency’s goals? In a world obsessed with big data, it’s tempting to track every detail simply because you can. With more data comes more confusion over what data is important enough be tracked and, just as essential, how to report that data in a way that facilitates decision making.

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DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit: Reflections from Our Livestream Host, and Full Recording Now Available!

The second annual DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit was held at GSA headquarters in Washington, DC on May 21. This year’s Summit sold out early to in person attendees, attracted nearly 1,200 folks to sign up, and for the first time a live stream was offered for online viewers across the country. I was honored to serve as this year’s virtual livestream host for the Summit. We’ve kicked off the #DigitalGov15 Summit with @USCTO @jakegab @gwynnek @PSChrousos!

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#SocialGov Round Up 2015

The #SocialGov Community is coming up on three years of hard work and pushing the boundaries on using social tools across the federal government. I’d like to start this round up by taking a look at the event we hosted last year, State of the #SocialGov 2014: 2 Years of Smashing Silos + Elevating Citizen Services with Social Media. Justin Herman, #SocialGov Community Lead, moderated a talk looking at the work delivered by the SocialGov CoP over the past 2 years and looked ahead to the next year.

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Taking the Pulse of the Federal Government’s Web Presence

The U.S. federal government is launching a new project to monitor how it’s doing at best practices on the Web. A sort of health monitor for the U.S. government’s websites, it’s called Pulse and you can find it at pulse.cio.gov. Pulse is a lightweight dashboard that uses the official .gov domain list to measure two things: Analytics: Whether federal executive branch domains are participating in the Digital Analytics Program (DAP) that powers analytics.

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Mobile-Friendly Park Websites on NPS.gov

Park websites on NPS.gov from A (Acadia) to Z (Zion) are now mobile-friendly. Visitors using phones and tablets to visit national park websites now have a user-friendly experience to enhance their virtual visits. Previously, visitors using mobile devices saw a smaller version of the website scaled to fit the size of their screen. Now, the content will adjust to fit small screens while providing the same functionality available to those visiting the site using a desktop or laptop.

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Meeting Customer Needs Through Social Media

Social media tools can amplify your agency’s message, but they are also a meeting space for two-way conversations. They can be a key tool to resolve user issues and deliver excellent customer service. This is true for agencies in every corner of the government space. In honor of our monthly contact center theme, we reached out to the Social Media Community of Practice to learn more about how social media complements the work of federal contact centers.

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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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Multiple Languages, Single Platforms: the World Digital Library

Multilingual does not always mean multiple accounts or websites. Increasingly, multilingual content is delivered in an integrated way, with two (or more!) languages delivered on the same website, app, or social media platform. The World Digital Library (WDL) is one example of how multiple languages can be incorporated on single platforms. The WDL is a hub for cultural artifacts that includes books, manuscripts, maps, newspapers, journals, photographs, sound recordings, and films.

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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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Using Personas to Better Understand Customers: USA.gov Case Study

Personas are fictional characters that describe an organization’s customer behaviors, emotions, attributes, motivations, and goals. They are an important tool to share customer insights and understanding across an organization. Personas also serve as a check to make sure your organization’s actions meet the needs of the majority of customers, including visitors to your website, contact center, in-person visits, and interactive voice response (IVR) self service customers. Why We Updated our Personas Personas aren’t new to USA.

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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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Trends on Tuesday: More Time-Consuming, Complex Tasks on Mobile Platforms

One of the leading mobile app analytics companies, Flurry, released their annual mobile app growth report with some interesting data showing how audiences are changing the way they engage with mobile applications. Overall, mobile app usage grew 76% in 2014, and the top app categories included: “Lifestyle & Shopping,” growing 174%; “Utilities & Productivity,” growing 121%; “Messaging & Social,” growing 89%; and “Health & Fitness” and “Travel” categories, both growing 89% year over year.

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The Content Corner: Performing a Content Audit

Audit. It’s a word that generally has no positive connotations whatsoever. We hear the word audit and we think of tax audits or timesheet audits, etc. The word normally strikes fear or dread in the hearts of most mortals. But it is also a task that all websites will need to perform from time to time, and hopefully after reading today’s column you can view content audits as positive opportunities and not as dreadful chores.

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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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Avoid Weak ‘Links’ in Your Digital Chain

Users don’t like surprises. Unexpected or unwanted content undermines the credibility of your agency and frustrates users who come to your website looking for specific information. Using links appropriately in your website content is one way to build trust with users, according to an article by Kara Pernice of the Nielsen Norman Group. Here’s a real life example: If the link above led to an article about 3D printing, you’d probably be pretty annoyed right now.

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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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Top 10 Things (We Think) You Don’t Know about DigitalGov

Things you don’t know about this website, DigitalGov.gov, that is. It’s our first birthday, and we’re celebrating by sharing some fun facts with you. A more sober look at our strategy can be read on our 6-month post, but this is a party post! w00t! We’ve published an impressive 480 articles and counting (this post is like #485), and we are learning more and more about you. You still love posts on metrics and on customer service, but “Government Open and Structured Content Models are Here”?

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Don’t Forget the Long Tail: It Can Deliver Value

Top tasks matter. Visitors come to your website with specific goals in mind. Using a top-task methodology can be particularly useful when redesigning your homepage. But, top tasks aren’t the whole story. Our government websites also have a large range of tiny tasks that, when managed carefully, have the potential to deliver value. In The Stranger’s Long Neck, Gerry McGovern explains how, when visitors come to your website, they have a small set of top tasks they want to complete quickly and easily.

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Institutionalizing User Experience: Building Usability into Your Organization

So, you have some systems or tools your customers or employees access. Maybe you want to put together a robust capability to conduct usability testing. How do you start formalizing user experience (UX) into your organization? Brad Ludlow at GSA tossed this topic out on the User Experience community listserv, and I’ve encapsulated the superb discussion that followed below. Here, then, are four easy steps to building User Experience into your office:

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Follow the Clicks: A Look at Click-through Rates on Government Websites

How important is it to show the most relevant result at the top of your search results page? Very. Searchers expect to find what they’re looking for quickly and easily—and without scrolling—when they search on government websites. If a Web page isn’t “above the fold” as one of the first listings on the first results page, the data shows that there is little chance of it ever being clicked. If it happens to fall on page 2 or beyond, it becomes a vanishingly small part of a very long tail.

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Responsive Web Design Challenges Webinar Recap

A website redesign is never an easy task, but when responsiveness is one of your redesign’s key goals, special considerations come into play that can present unique challenges. In the September webinar on Responsive Web Design Challenges in Government, we heard from two agencies who identified coordination, leadership buy-in and content decisions when mobilizing their websites. Marissa Newhall, acting director of the Office of Digital Strategy and Communications at the Department of Energy (DOE), shared the reasons for going responsive with the energy.

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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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Strategy Pivot Yields Results: DigitalGov.Gov Six Months Later

Six months ago, we launched this DigitalGov.gov platform to support federal agencies in delivering 21st century digital services and information to the public. It seems a good time to share some of the thinking that went into the development of the platform, and what we’ve learned so far. Looking back, we knew we had great content for digital innovators. Here at the Center for Digital Government at GSA, we created the go-to references for federal agencies around Web, mobile, social media, challenges and prizes, and were growing API content.

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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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Improving Content, Increasing Participation: A NARA Usability Case Study

Over the years, the staff intranet at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) had become increasingly difficult to use. Old, irrelevant content routinely bubbled to the top of search results, and essential employee tools were hard to find. NARA staff agreed that the site was due for an upgrade: fixing NARA@work was voted a top priority for 2013 in the annual Employee Viewpoint Survey. NARA managers, from the Archivist of the United States on down, supported the effort and helped recruit staff to participate.

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PolicyOps—A Better Way to Create and Implement Government Policies and Programs?

“PolicyOps” is a better way to create and implement government policies and programs through cutting-edge data analytics and new collaboration methods. PolicyOps (“Policy” plus “Operations”) is a new proposal for improving policy making and policy implementation. Based on a cutting-edge IT management method, DevOps (“Development” plus “Operations”), PolicyOps has two major concepts. First, closer collaboration and coordination between policy designers and policy implementers. Second, a single view of the policy environment reality agreed on by the policy designers and policy implementers.

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Digital Government Strategy Milestones Report

Yesterday marked three months since the release of the Digital Government Strategy and agencies have been making great strides in meeting the milestones toward building a 21st Century Government. In his blog, Building-blocks of a 21st Century Digital Government, Steve Van Roekel said: Executing on this vision of government cannot happen alone. To provide the highest value of services, we must rethink from step one how government builds and provides services for the American people.

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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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