What happens if I remove 20% of my website?

As I’ve noted, our organization has lost our government contract (they’re taking it in-house). One of the services we provide is that we host a list of approved professionals, the “RASP”. We have several pages on our site on this topic (how to search and how to apply for example), and this accounts for 22% of our landing pages in 2016.

Of all our visitors, 22% start on one of these pages, and while some move to non-RASP related pages, many don’t (these are task-oriented visitors). That’s going to be a significant loss in visitors; but will it impact the rest of our services?

I’m trying to look at our Analytics stats to figure out what we can learn to help new viewers find our website, and to organize and streamline the website. This is part of my Board Report, to show how we will be planning for life beyond the government contract (I also won’t be employed by the much smaller organization, so we want a really streamlined website). So what am I asking from the stats?

  • how do people arrive at our website?
  • what pages do people visit?
  • what pages do people land on?
  • how many people visit the donations pages specifically?

What do we do with those stats once we have them?

  • plan to increase visitors nationally and internationally
  • plan increase visitors from “not Google”
    • Social Media
    • Emails
    • Links on other sites
  • target topics in which to develop or link to more information
  • create targeted GoogleAds

 

This is my starting place: what am I missing?

Facebook is all over the place

It feels to me that our Facebook engagement and reach has steadily risen – more comments, more likes, more attention. In our reports, I mostly report on the number of “likes” we have – it’s easy to measure, it always goes up and people understand it.

Our  average weekly reach (as summarized below), fluctuates wildly, depending on types of posts (anything with Dr. Temple Grandin is popular), what time of year it is, and if I pay to “boost” a post. The reach overall is increasing, as shown in the trend line, which I would expect as our “likes” have doubled in the last two years.

In February, our weekly average reach was 7,000 in Facebook. Facebook sent 299 website sessions (total), which is a fraction of the 9,800 website sessions in February. So is it worth it?

  • If our “likes” increase, can we assume that we are reaching new viewers/users?
  • We clearly “reinforce” our brand (one of the reason we focus on news and training; not inspirational quotes) in Facebook
  • I am still new to conversions, so while I know there were some conversions, I don’t know which of those resulted in event purchases. More to learn!

monthly-fb

 

Desk Discoveries

I found this sticky note – I’m sure it’s an interesting idea, but I can’t decipher some of the key words and the list is a mixed bag of platforms, media and outcomes. What was I trying to work through?!

I’ve experimented with print notebooks, online notetaking, an office whiteboard and of course sticky notes to track ideas and process.

Maybe I should work on my penmanship.

Following the Google Analytics Flow

We’re collecting website stats for our Quarterly Report, and I’ll report on the usual stats: our registrations, where our visitors come from (email/search engine/direct link, etc) and so forth. But I can’t help but start looking through Google Analytics. I have only lightly scratched the surface, and was getting frustrated with the bounce rate, exit and entrance pages. There are multiple ways that people arrive at and use our site and I was getting frustrated drawing conclusions based on an entire site of activity. Our site has many, many pages (too many?) which clouds our understanding of what people are doing and perhaps dilutes our objectives?

So I explored some more, and right now I’m enamored with the Visitors Flow: at a glance it’s telling me where most of my visitors are landing, and most importantly where they go next. I’m also learning that our site is organized in such a way that Google Analytics (GA) sometimes has trouble following. Due to our odd information infrastructure, it’s not making connections that a human makes, and I either can’t or haven’t figured out how change how pages are categorized in GA. Due to the sheer number of pages on our side, GA has categorized most of them as “misc”, it seems. I’m not sure how much of this is due to the fact that our site is built on Joomla, which creates specific nesting of sites and how much of it is our IA. Both, either, that and more?

Regardless, lots of happy browsing ahead. Any advice or suggested readings?

Following the pathways: our flow 

Project management with sticky notes

My job title is: Online Learning Community Project Manager.

And I’m learning what that all means in a BIG way. There are a million* little strands that require my attention. Some today, some yesterday and some on an ongoing basis. And oh, boy, do I get overwhelmed. (Should I admit this online? where current or future employers might see it? Ah well). I can easily get trapped in the putting out fires circle, spending all my time answering questions and running around giving pep talks and troubleshooting every little thing. I can also easily lose track the parts where I’m waiting for feedback, updates or resources from colleagues. It’s not very productive and then I keep picking up and dropping things according to other people’s immediate needs.

So I have a new plan (I love plans. And lists. And colour-coding both).

To prepare, I got a legal sized file folder and some sticky notes. I wrote each major part of the project on a separate sticky note: upgrade software (find virtual server); write handout (review draft #1); finish instructional design for module x. And this is the secret and the brilliance; I put all the sticky notes inside the file folder.  This morning I got to work, looked in side, and chose to focus on ONE task. I pulled out the associated folder (I’m writing an evaluation report on a grant), and have worked on that this morning. It works, it really works!

This is working for me for a few reasons.

  1. I can brainstorm and let my mind find and elaborate on the tasks better with pen and paper.
  2. The individual tasks are hidden in a closed file folder. If they were on the wall of my cubicle, I’d freak out about all the tasks I have to do, and think about each one for 15 seconds on an endless loop. Not productive.
  3. I can move the sticky notes around (like near like) to see which ones feed off each other (very efficient).
  4. I can see the whole project at once to more easily decide what my priority is each day.
  5. It’s beyond easy to update the notes, or throw them out and write new ones as that part of the project advances. It’s also low stakes to update and scribble on the sticky notes.

Do some people keep this all in their head? I can’t believe that. One former colleague has the most elaborate excel spreadsheet that works for her. I tried it for a while, but I got lost updating the spreadsheet instead of work (when it takes two minutes to find, open and update the spreadsheet for a 30 second task, that’s not productive). Another former colleague would write everything in a beautiful notebook (she said, but not in so many words, that beauty begets a peaceful mind). I tried that, but as soon as I turned the page, I forgot about the notes and lists that I’d make. One current colleague has a stack of loose papers on her desk, but that just fills me with anxiety. What if I LOST something? I’m pretty happy with my technique – what’s yours?

* I admit, a slight exaggeration. What about it?! (grin).

My father wants an eReader

I’ve discussed with my sister the idea of getting our father an eReader. He’s interested in one, and I get it. He can download books from the library, it takes up very little space in comparison, it’s lighter… and what else? I don’t know. I’m a confessed book snob. I like my wrinkled Rushdie book that I bought in India, or the book of Leonard Cohen poetry that an old boyfriend bought and inscribed for me. I like moving back and forth in the book, pausing to consider Alice Munro’s marvelous turn of phrase, with my finger keeping my space between the pages. I always look to see what people are reading on the bus – much more difficult on an eReader.

So yes, I agree with Sara Barbour in her June 17th opinion piece. It’s an emotional kick for me, my attachment to books.

However.

I remember first year university: the massive biology textbook, the stack of books for my women in literature course, the mammoth introduction to English text that had poetry by Eliot, prose by Chaucer and short stories by… several authors. It’s a doorstopper that you see in many second-hand bookstores or parental basements. In addition to the sheer weight of these books, there is a culture of lineups at the bookstore, lugging heavy backpacks of books for your reference paper, selling the books at the end of the semester, and deciding how much to mark up the text books (highlighting can help you study, but diminishes the re-sale value). eReaders and eBooks could revolutionize academic textbooks.

Electronic textbooks could be cheaper, cutting out printing and shipping costs to start. Errors or updates could be easily implemented, downloaded from the Internet. The electronic textbooks could be more interactive, with quizzes at the end of chapters, or the ability to share notes or questions as a class. They could include multimedia. For the sciences, this could be a 3D image of DNA, a video of cell division, or an animation to demonstrate the physics of acceleration. For the arts, it could be a video of a First Nations potlach, and audio recording of a poem, or and animation of sequencing of behaviours. Perhaps it could make texts more accessible for students for whom English is not their first language (with links to dictionary definitions), for those with visual impairments (screen readers or bigger fonts), or for those with mobility challenges (less to carry, easier to navigate).

I say “could” alot. It depends on publishers being willing to change their practices, re-evaluation of digital rights management. It depends on accessibility and technical support for students and faculty members. Lots of maybes and questions that are still unanswered, but there are opportunities here.

But I’m still buying paperbacks for myself and others. That won’t stop.