Reflecting back on 2018

A new year is always a time of reflection for me. Especially in that week between Christmas and the new year. Although I had that time off of work this year, that didn’t stop me thinking about the year just gone. And when I got back to work this week, I was eager to look at how the last year went and where we will go for 2019.

Overall, as a team we had a pretty good year. It was a hard year, but we made significant changes to the public website, including introducing a new search engine. We also launched a new intranet and we moved many of our microsites into WordPress.

I also got to attend a range of events, starting the year with UK Gov Camp, followed by One Team Gov Global in the summer. We also made a visit to the GDS Empathy Lab. I ended the year with a trip to Birmingham for Local Gov Camp and to London for Intranet Now! All of these events really helped to bring inspiration and excitement to what we do and I can’t wait to head to some of them again this year (UK Gov Camp, I’m looking at you!).

2018 in numbers

It’s always fun to look at the stats for our public websites (if you are a bit of a data nerd like me). So I created an infographic with some of our core information.

We now have (that I could find in our archives) a decade worth of core data for page views, visits (sessions) and visitors (users). Looking at this data we can see that actually, the number of visits and visitors over this time has remained fairly stable.

Page views have decreased overall though. The first dip in 2012 came from moving the website from a page heavy site to one with around half the number of pages. Page views have also been much lower in 2018, something which can be attributed to significant content changes with the transformation of our leisure services.

Whilst page counts and user numbers are important, as a content person, and having spent so much time re-building the website over the last couple of years, the most interesting figures for me are those around page counts and document numbers.

As we moved from our previous website, you can see that the page count increased whilst the document count decreased. Contributing of this was a move towards the use of ‘guide pages’, but also our efforts to remove documents and add content to web pages instead. As you can see, we didn’t make much more progress with removing documents over 2018, but one of the focuses for 2019 will be in this area as we get to grips with changes to accessibility rules.

Top ten pages

Looking at our top ten pages from the year, we can see the importance of leisure information to our customers. From our landing page for the outsourced sites, to The Look Out Discovery Centre, to Coral Reef Waterworld and the Libraries, it features very highly.

Leisure facilities in Bracknell Forest484,764
Home page313,820
The Look Out Discovery Centre197,794
Coral Reef Waterworld195,737
Jobs93,269
The Look Out opening times and prices82,484
Libraries63,807
School closures62,790
Access the online planning register61,728
Book Coral Reef tickets in advance60,527

The school closures page had the majority of its views on the two snow days back in March 2018. I remember that as it coincided with all the school admissions updates, making it a very busy and early morning for content editors on the site as we tried to keep up with all the closure notices!

In mid-2018 we lost some key content on the site. As the majority of our leisure sites were outsourced, this content was removed. We now have a landing page that points out to Everyone Active, so customers are beginning to stop coming to our site to find that information, although many of them still do use our site as a launch pad to that information. Next year this top ten list is likely to look very different.

What’s next?

So, what’s coming in 2019?

Well, for now, we have a lot of work on accessibility to focus on and we have a lot of content, especially documents, to review. We also have a full set of local elections to help publish content for over the coming months, as well as lots of transformation support to provide. Whilst we might not know everything that will come our way this year, I do know that it’s going to be a busy one. Let’s get started then!

Two LEGO figures riding bikes in Swinley Forest.
On the road to an awesome 2019!

Thanks for reading and Happy New Year!

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