Chapter 6.5: Web Analytics Toolkit

In our increasingly digital world, being strategic about your city’s web presence can help boost engagement, determine what your community is interested in, and build trust and transparency. There are a variety of ways to structure your city’s web presence and the effectiveness depends on what groups you are trying to reach and how you are conveying the message. If you have an open data portal, existing social media profiles, or even a well-used city website, you could be collecting usage data to help you define or expand your web presence strategy with community engagement in mind.

There are numerous free (some of which are open source) tools that can be used to analyze web traffic, including Google Analytics, Lumify, Open Web Analytics, Piwik, and Code for America’s City Analytics Dashboard. GovEx’s Open Data: Measuring What Matters details how cities can build out performance metrics for their open data portals. It also includes a breakdown of data portal analytics from 20 Socrata portals from 2012–2015. Additionally, you can use the US City Open Data Census to view overall traffic stats, page-level traffic stats, site search logs, and browser-agent breakdowns from more than 100 cities around the country to shape your city’s plan and benchmark usage data. Several governments have created web pages devoted to describing and explaining their web analytics (e.g., Boulder, CO; Philadelphia, PA; and the federal government).

By looking at data points from these analytics tools, such as the most popular web pages, reactions to and comments on city social media postings, frequently downloaded datasets, and the number of data portal accounts, your city can glean some information about what data and information are most popular (and what related data would be beneficial to release), how the community is reacting to government action, and who is using and how they are tuning into the city’s portal, website, and social media sites.

Here are some questions to consider when analyzing your web presence data:

  • What pages have the most views and downloads? Why do you think this is the case? Is there more information on this topic you could be releasing?
  • How do your web analytics compare to similar cities? What insights can you draw from that comparison?
  • Are you reaching and getting input from your target population? If not, what new tact could you take?
  • Are you displaying the same information on a variety of platforms to ensure the community has a good chance of seeing it?

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