Early Childhood Portal Review, October 2013
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Early Childhood Portal Review, October 2013

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This is a report I prepared about the user testing, redesign, traffic, and usage stats for www.chicagoearlylearning.org. ...

This is a report I prepared about the user testing, redesign, traffic, and usage stats for www.chicagoearlylearning.org.

Lots of details-- good info for developers, project managers, and people interested in stats on civic innovation projects.

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Early Childhood Portal Review, October 2013 Early Childhood Portal Review, October 2013 Document Transcript

  •   Chicago  Early  Childhood  Portal  Project  Review     Smart  Chicago  Collaborative   October  2,  2013     Executive  Summary   Chicago  Early  Learning,  www.chicagoearlylearning.org,  is  the  City  of  Chicago's  Early   Learning  Portal,  where  residents  can  easily  find  and  compare  early  learning   programs  side-­‐by-­‐side.  The  site  was  recently  re-­‐launched  after  some  significant   effort:     • Extensive  user  testing  with  Chicago  residents  all  over  the  city   • Development  of  a  new  website  that  incorporated  all  of  this  feedback   • Creation  of  an  admin  tool  that  allows  for  the  maintenance  of  the  data  through   time   • Generation  of  significant  and  site  traffic  on  mobile,  web,  and  text  platforms     Following  is  a  deep  dive  into  the  new  features  and  current  statistics  related  to  our   website.     Formal  and  Informal  Testing   We  did  something  rare  in  this  project:  we  launched  a  pilot  website  in  a  very  tight   timeframe  last  year  and  then  made  it  better.  We  actively  listened  to  regular  Chicago   residents,  dutifully  noted  their  feedback,  and  directly  changed  an  existing,  working   app  so  that  it  worked  better  for  our  target  audience.       We  showed  the  site  on  a  typical  computer  set  up  inside  a  Chicago  Public  School  location.        
  •     We  demonstrated  the  site  at  a  CPS  Head  Start  Policy  Committee  Meeting  At  Zenos  Colman  Elementary  School,  4650  S.   Dearborn.     We  presented  the  site  to  block  club  leaders  inside  the  ward  office  of  as  37th  Ward  Alderman  Emma  Mitts.       We  also  tested  the  site  in  formal  environments  inside  Action  for  Children  locations  in  Chicago.   2      
  •     Review  of  site  features  of  the  new  website   Design   We  completely  overhauled  the  look  &  feel  of  the  site,  making  it  softer  and  more   rounded.  We  moved  from  book  imagery  to  a  crayon/  marker  in  the  logo,  and   removed  the  map-­‐based  homepage  to  provide  more  information  about  what  the  site   does  and  how  to  use  it.       There  are  a  number  of  features  of  the  site  that  we’d  like  to  call  out:     Mobile   Just  like  before,  the  site  uses  responsive  design,  which  means   that  it  looks  great  and  works  great  on  any  device,  reformatting   the  content  automatically.  Here’s  the  homepage  at  phone-­‐size   (at  right).  Notice  that  instead  of  showing  words  in  the  nav,  it   collapses  into  icons.     Text   We  maintained  the  text  feature,  which  was  widely  loved  by   residents  in  testing.  We  made  the  text  phone  number  easier  to   see  and  share  by  giving  it  a  separate  page  with  a  separate  URL.   The  feature  allows  users  to  text  a  zip  code  to  the  number  and   receive  back  a  list  of  nine  locations  in  that  area.   3        
  •     Improved  search   We  saw  that  many  people  started  off  their  search  with  a  location  in  mind,  whether  it   was  a  school  or  a  neighborhood.  We  moved  away  from  a  pure  address  search  and   now  pre-­‐populate  the  search  box  as  the  user  types.  This  short-­‐circuits  the  search   process  and  makes  people  immediately  feel  like  this  is  a  place  that  has  what  they’re   looking  for.  The  “Browse  by  community”  function  provides  another  way  for  people   to  dive  in  without  putting  in  an  exact  address.         Improved  filtering   We  found  in  testing  that  people  did  not  know  how  to  easily  drill  down  into  search   results  and  they  very  rarely  used  the  filtering  feature.  We  made  the  filtering  more   prominent  and  took  up  much  more  screen  real  estate  with  details  of  the  search   results.  Previously,  the  user  had  to  click  on  a  particular  item  on  the  map  to  reveal   details.  An  overall  insight  we  observed  from  testing  was  that  the  map  is  not  the   thing—the  details  of  early  learning  centers  was  the  thing.  We  changed  the  interface   to  reflect  this.     Better  comparisons   One  thing  we  heard  loud  and  clear  from  parents  was  that  they  wanted  to  be  able  to   compare  more  than  two  locations.  In  response,  we  completely  changed  the   comparison  system—changing  it  to  a  more  recognizable  star  /  favorite  system,   displaying  starred  items  in  a  grid,  and  giving  the  user  the  flexibility  to  easily  add  and   remove  locations.     4      
  •       Admin  tool   An  important  milestone  in  this  reporting  period  is  the  creation  of  an  easy-­‐to-­‐use   admin  tool  to  manage  all  of  the  locations.  Previously,  the  site  was  run  by  a  “magic   spreadsheet”  that  was  difficult  to  manage.         The  admin  search  tool  allows  you  to  drill  down  quickly:     5        
  •       6          
  •   And  location  detail  pages  are  managed  through  a  simple  web  form:       7      
  •   Site  usage  statistics   Overall  site  traffic  is  stable  and  growing  with  very  little  promotion       17,437  people  visited  the  site  since  December  1,  2012.  26%  of  visitors  are  return   visitors,  which  is  healthy  for  a  site  of  this  kind,  as  a  resource  that  people  need  to   come  back  to  as  they  are  managing  their  decisions.       Other  good  indicators  are  a  relatively  low  9.8%  bounce  rate  (meaning  that  more   than  90%  of  the  people  who  arrive  at  the  site  perform  a  search)  and  twice  as  many   page  views  as  visits  (again,  an  indication  of  people  performing  searches).       The  average  visit  duration  of  4:45  is  also  promising.  That  aligns  well  with  the  our   tests,  which  indicated  this  is  about  the  right  amount  of  time  to  have  a  search/   review/  print/  share  experience  on  the  site.     Text  usage  is  solid—17%  of  visits  include  querying  the  site  via  text   To  date,  4,069  text  messages  have  been  received  and  9,200  text  messages  were  sent   back  in  response  through  this  service.  With  23,534  visits,  that  means  people  used   the  text  function  17%  of  the  time.  Considering  the  context  switching  (changing   devices  from  desktop  to  smartphone;  moving  from  browser  to  phone  apps  on  a   smartphone),  this  shows  the  popularity  of  the  feature.     8        
  •         Mobile  usage  is  significant—23%  of  all  visits   A  full  23%  of  visits  to  the  site  were  on  mobile  devices,  with  Apple  devices   accounting  for  58%  of  the  visits  (3,157  of  5,426)  and  various  Android  devices  taking   up  the  bulk  of  the  rest  of  the  views  in  data  from  December  1,  2012  to  September  24,   2013.  We  were  surprised  to  see  firsthand  the  myriad  types  of  devices  running   Android—there  were  63  different  device  types  that  accounted  for  10  or  more  visits.     This  number  is  on-­‐target  for  average  mobile  usage  for  a  website  in  the  United  States.   By  comparison,  here’s  mobile  usage  on  other  sites  we  run  at  Smart  Chicago:  34%  for   Connect  Chicago  (where  people  are  actively  searching  for  a  public  computer  center),   26%  for  the  CUTGroup  (where  location  is  not  relevant  to  the  site  content),  and  19%   for  the  Smart  Chicago  website  (which  is  a  content-­‐driven  website  with  no  particular   mobile  context),  and  16%  for  Chicago  Health  Atlas  (where  the  main  activity  is   comparing  neighborhoods).       9      
  •   If  you’d  like  to  be  able  to  log  in  to  view  the  traffic  stats  on  a  regular  basis,  just  send   me  an  email  at  doneil@cct.org  with  a  Gmail  address  and  I  will  add  you  to  the   dashboard.     10