Beyond the pageview: Data will change your web strategy 6.22.11 0
by in Case Study

We’re kinda obsessed with data here at Technically Media.

We’ve helped host a handful of events to harness the power of municipal government data here in Philadelphia — one of the missions of our flagship publication Technically Philly, an online newsmagazine that covers the technology community in our homebase, Philadelphia.

We’ve seen the future folks, and the future is data.

When we’re not busy helping Philadelphia realize the potential of it, we’re getting our hands dirty with data to shape the content and editorial strategies of our clients.

We were smitten when we attended Confab — the first international conference on Content Strategy — when presenters like Claire O’Brien as well as Elizabeth McGuane and Randall Snare [PDF] shared their techniques for using data to shape strategy.

The takeaway? On the web, we’ve got to look past web analytics to make informed decisions about what users want using any data we can get our hands on.

That includes, as O’Brien shared, search logs, task analysis, market profiles, interviews, surveys, anecdotal inquiries, field studies, focus groups, quantitative/qualitative assessments, usability testing, consumer data. And oh so much more.

It was a familiar tune. Earlier this year, we set out on a mission with our client PlanPhilly, a news site that covers the built environment in Philadelphia, to help imagine a complete strategic overhaul of its web operations.

In April, during Philly Tech Week, we demonstrated a case study of the process at BarCamp NewsInnovation.

It included a step-by-step explanation of how we were able complete a careful examination of the organization that included stakeholder interviews, web analytics, operations budgets evaluations, user surveys, qualitative mission assessment, and more.

So, how did we do it?

With the help of PlanPhilly’s internal team, we ripped open the site’s web analytics tool, Google Analytics, with a dissertation-length list of questions we were seeking answers to. We wanted to know how the organization could streamline its budget, retain more visitors, create more engaging content, and learn which users were its most faithful.

From 30,000 feet, we analyzed traffic growth and budget spending over four years. We tracked the storyline of the website and its growth, and where the organization’s content was straying from mission.

We also got micro. By choosing sample days across strong and weak months, we were able to look at metrics on a per-day and per-hour basis to understand how users were navigating the site, when they were doing it and why. We mashed up surveys with the data to understand how the user felt about it all.

It was a content audit to the next level. Phew. So, a dozen spreadsheets later, what were the results?

After a series of recommendations, PlanPhilly has been able to cut the cost of its content creation while increasing capacity to focus on growth, mission, partnerships and more. We’re even exploring how the organization can develop revenue from its content.

That’s business value you can count.

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