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Using Analytics to Create
Change: A Case Study of
the USA.gov Home Page
Michelle Chronister
User Experience Team Lead, USA...
About USA.gov
What?
Why?
Who?
U.S. government’s official web portal
Help the public find official government
information a...
This is the story
of our home page.
8.6 million sessions
Why is it important?
“A homepage has two main goals: to give
users information, and to provide top-level
navigation to additional information i...
2006
2008
2010
2012
2014
June 2014
June 2014
June 2014
Analytics.
USE ALL THE DATA!
You need it to tell a rich story and find the why.
Make it compelling.
Wiser Women Promotion
● Featured in rotator for 11 days
(243,000 page views)
● Email sent to 300,000
subscribers
Health In...
New
Visitor
New
Visitor
Find Information
New
Visitor
Find Information
Look at
Rotator
New
Visitor
Find Information
Look at
Rotator
Scans Page
New
Visitor
Find Information
Look at
Rotator
Scans Page Search
It’s a marathon
- not a sprint.
How to Use Data to Make Change
Understand it.
How to Use Data to Make Change
Understand it.
Tell people.
How to Use Data to Make Change
Understand it.
Tell people.
Advocate.
How to Use Data to Make Change
Understand it.
Tell people.
Advocate.
Iterate.
Thank you!
Questions?
Michelle Chronister
User Experience Team Lead, USA.gov
U.S. General Services Administration
michelle...
Using Analytics to Create Change: A Case Study of the USA.gov Home Page
Using Analytics to Create Change: A Case Study of the USA.gov Home Page
Using Analytics to Create Change: A Case Study of the USA.gov Home Page
Using Analytics to Create Change: A Case Study of the USA.gov Home Page
Using Analytics to Create Change: A Case Study of the USA.gov Home Page
Using Analytics to Create Change: A Case Study of the USA.gov Home Page
Using Analytics to Create Change: A Case Study of the USA.gov Home Page
Using Analytics to Create Change: A Case Study of the USA.gov Home Page
Using Analytics to Create Change: A Case Study of the USA.gov Home Page
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Using Analytics to Create Change: A Case Study of the USA.gov Home Page

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Presented at the DC, VA & MD Search Engine Marketing Meetup event on May 27, 2014 (http://www.meetup.com/seo-72/events/179245102/).

This presentation is a U.S. Government Work (http://www.usa.gov/copyright.shtml).

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  • You might be thinking that most people enter websites through other places than the home page and you would be right. This is true for USA.gov too.

    But the home page is still the first stop for millions of our visitors every year - in 2013, there were 8.6 million sessions to our home page. That’s 30% of all sessions.
  • Our home page has evolved a lot over the years.
  • We launched in 2000 as FirstGov.gov and launched a Spanish site, FirstGov en Espanol, in 2003.
  • In 2007, we changed our name to USA.gov and GobiernoUSA.gov.
  • In 2010, we redesigned the entire site. There was a lot of political input and pressure. We did not take a user centered design approach.
  • In 2012, we changed the navigation options a little and modified boxes on the bottom of the page to feature more than just mobile apps.
  • In 2014, we made the site responsive.

    Where are we going?
  • This new home page will launch in June 2014.
  • It’s still responsive and works on every size screen.
  • It will be changing in both English and Spanish.

    How were we able to make the case for this new home page?
  • Here’s what we used:
    Webtrends and Google Analytics
    Internal search data
    CrazyEgg
    Customer satisfaction survey data
    Usability tests
  • Next I’m going to show real data we presented to make our case for change.
  • Most people who visit USA.gov are new.

    These numbers are for the site overall, but the home page numbers have almost exactly the same percentages.
  • The comments from our customer satisfaction survey show that people want to find information. They come to the site with a purpose.

    This is created from survey comments from 2013.
  • This was one of the most compelling slides we showed to management.

    Most of these CrazyEgg heat maps are for 20,000 visits or more.

    It’s noticeable how many people search. Why? We think it’s because the content is hidden.
  • This data compares the performance of 2 campaigns we featured in the home page rotator. We also sent emails to our lists about them. You can see the emails generated more clicks.
  • From this data, we can infer that most visitors to the current home take this path or a similar one.
  • We have rich internal search data so we know what people are looking for when they search. Generally, they are looking for the topics we cover in detail on the site. But they have no other way of getting to them.
  • That’s how we got to this new design.
  • We added this box to the top to help set expectations for new visitors.
  • We featured the most popular topics people front and center.
  • Contacting an agency or elected official is also a top task so we made it easy to find this information.
  • We moved the feature area to the bottom since we know that’s generally not what people want. It’s also no longer a rotator - it’s static. It’s also optional. If it’s not present, the email sign up box will fill the width of the page.
  • It can take time to make major changes.

    In April 2013, I prepared a report on home behavior and shared it with my team and boss. It covered
    how people get there
    what they do once they are there
    what they do next

    A coworker and I also prepared a report on what we know about our visitors for another event in July 2013.

    In September 2013, we formed a bilingual project team to design a new home page. We designed, tested, developed, and are ready to launch in June 2014.
  • Understand it - Like REALLY understand it. Live it. Be able to explain it, including the why (or your best guess).
  • Tell people - You might look at the data all the time, but others don’t. Sometimes they don’t know there’s a problem or an opportunity. You have to share.
  • Advocate - After sharing, follow up. Advocate for the data. It can’t do it by itself.
  • Iterate - Even if you do make change, be sure to constantly evaluate it.

    We’re going to launch this new structure in June and then monitor the data to make further changes.
  • Transcript of "Using Analytics to Create Change: A Case Study of the USA.gov Home Page"

    1. 1. Using Analytics to Create Change: A Case Study of the USA.gov Home Page Michelle Chronister User Experience Team Lead, USA.gov U.S. General Services Administration michelle.chronister@gsa.gov @mchronister
    2. 2. About USA.gov What? Why? Who? U.S. government’s official web portal Help the public find official government information and services Over 24 million users in 2013
    3. 3. This is the story of our home page.
    4. 4. 8.6 million sessions Why is it important?
    5. 5. “A homepage has two main goals: to give users information, and to provide top-level navigation to additional information inside the site.” Jakob Nielsen Home Page Real Estate Allocation
    6. 6. 2006
    7. 7. 2008
    8. 8. 2010
    9. 9. 2012
    10. 10. 2014
    11. 11. June 2014
    12. 12. June 2014
    13. 13. June 2014
    14. 14. Analytics.
    15. 15. USE ALL THE DATA! You need it to tell a rich story and find the why.
    16. 16. Make it compelling.
    17. 17. Wiser Women Promotion ● Featured in rotator for 11 days (243,000 page views) ● Email sent to 300,000 subscribers Health Insurance ● Featured in rotator for 9 days (247,000 page views) ● Email sent to 480,000 subscribers Performance of Content in Rotator
    18. 18. New Visitor
    19. 19. New Visitor Find Information
    20. 20. New Visitor Find Information Look at Rotator
    21. 21. New Visitor Find Information Look at Rotator Scans Page
    22. 22. New Visitor Find Information Look at Rotator Scans Page Search
    23. 23. It’s a marathon - not a sprint.
    24. 24. How to Use Data to Make Change Understand it.
    25. 25. How to Use Data to Make Change Understand it. Tell people.
    26. 26. How to Use Data to Make Change Understand it. Tell people. Advocate.
    27. 27. How to Use Data to Make Change Understand it. Tell people. Advocate. Iterate.
    28. 28. Thank you! Questions? Michelle Chronister User Experience Team Lead, USA.gov U.S. General Services Administration michelle.chronister@gsa.gov @mchronister
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