Bracknell Forest Digital Services


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Reviewing the (statistical) situation

It’s been over 7 months since we last posted on here, announcing the launch of our website. No excuses, but it’s just been one of those periods where there hasn’t been the time to sit and reflect and blog.

In brief, we’ve been moving from project to project, many of which were time sensitive and demanding. In addition, our team has been changing, with members leaving and devolved editors being merged into our centralised team. It’s been a time of change for the council as a whole as well and our team has been working to keep up.

That said, I’ve finally had a chance to sit down today and look at the stats from our site over the first 6 months. Whilst we’ve been monitoring the site stats, it was the first time I’ve put all the data together to get an idea of the bigger picture. I thought I would share some of that data with you.

Note: Technically we launched in mid-June, but for the ease of reporting, I’m working with data from 1 July 2017 to 31 December 2017.


Sessions

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In 6 months, we had 1,036,510 sessions logged on our site. This is compared to 880,360 sessions in the same period last year on our old site.

Users

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We had 548,475 users of our site during the 6 month period. This compares to 574,506 users in the same period last year.

This is a slight decrease in users, some of which is accounted for in changes to the way we monitor our stats as for our site as we are now blocking internal traffic from being reported.

Pageviews

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In terms of pageviews, we hit over 3 million hits in the half year. This compares to 2,388,654 for the same period last year.

Some of the increase in pageviews is likely accounted for by our move to guide pages. We are now splitting longer and more complicated content into multiple pages to help the customer journey. This means that what was once a single page, a user might need to work through 4 or 5 smaller pages on their journey.

Traffic sources

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We often tell our colleagues that most people use a search engine to find our content, rather than navigate from the home page. With over 70% of traffic coming from organic searches, our new site is certainly proving this.

Even with direct traffic, we see that most customers go to a page they know. Only 12% of our direct traffic is going to the homepage first. This really emphasises that the homepage isn’t necessarily the most important page on the site. This is made clearer still when you realise that our homepage, whilst the second most popular page on the site, is still getting less than 5% of pageviews overall!

Site search

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Whilst we really like using Drupal for our new site, we have had some implementation issues with our search, particularly relating to content within guide pages. This has caused a number of complaints from customers and staff looking for content. We’re looking into resolving these issues as soon as we can, reviewing how we use guide pages to present content.

That said, based on our search report, only 3% of sessions used our site search in the 6 months from July 2017. So whilst it’s key we get our search functioning properly, it’s clear from the stats that most customers go directly to the content they need, generally using an external search.

Devices

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With a responsive site, it’s great to see that mobile traffic continues to outperform desktop usage. We’ve put a lot of work into getting our site mobile friendly and as these numbers continue to increase, it’s ever important to make sure future developments are mobile friendly.

(For those of you who want to know what devices our user’s love, that’s fairly clear: 45.28% of all mobile traffic was from an Apple product!)

Browsers

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Based on the prevalent use of Apple devices, it’s no surprise that Safari tops our browser list with 40.25% of sessions. In addition, Internet Explorer has significantly decreased in usage, although Edge has yet to make the top 5!

Top pages

With over 3 million pageviews across some 2000 pages, our site is well used. However, as you can see from the top 10 below, Coral Reef Waterworld significantly skews our pageview statistics.

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Within the next couple of months, these stats will be radically different. Coral Reef, Bracknell Leisure Centre and Downshire Golf Complex are being outsourced and so 7 of our top 10 pages will be removed from the site.

This is obviously going to have a big impact on our pageviews (and probably sessions in general). In fact, I think we can safely say that our stats will decrease significantly and our next 6 month review will likely tell a different story!


If you’ve made it this far, well done! It might be time for a tea break!

We will hopefully be back before long with more updates for you as to what we’ve been up to. In the meantime, thanks for reading and have a great weekend.

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An end of year round up

With Christmas and 2016 just around the corner (it is Christmas Eve Eve, after all) we thought it would be a good time to take a look over some of the work we have done over the past year, as well as look ahead to some of the work we will do in the first part of 2016.

A look back at 2015

2015 has seen us carry out a lot of preparation for our new website across the content, design and technical work streams. All of this work should put us in a good place to really get going with the re-development in the new year.

Content

In 2015 we did the following content work for the re-development:

  • held 30 workshops, across the five directorates, each one producing a discovery report and key user journey
  • re-wrote 11 sections of content, including bins and recycling, school admissions, and elections
  • launched 10 Treejack surveys
  • drafted our updated content standards

Design

In 2015 we did the following design work for the re-development:

  • drafted 8 sections worth of wireframes
  • completed the procurement of web design services

Technical

In 2015 we did the following technical work for the re-development:

  • set up the Drupal hosting infrastructure
  • migrated 9 of 11 microsites across to new web hosting

Looking forward to 2016

2016 is shaping up to be another busy year for us. We will be continuing the workshops, and have about another 30 to run. We will also continue to re-draft content, working to make it as clear to the customer as possible with guided user journeys.

Excitingly, we will also be commencing work on the design, as well as launching our newsroom site in beta.

In terms of the main public website, we hope to launch our council tax beta early in February, when we will also commence user testing of this section to get feedback as to how it is working for our customers.

Finally, we would like to thank everyone who has helped us with user testing so far through our navigation surveys. If you’d like to be informed when we start user testing for our beta site, sign up now!

The last workshop of the year was supported by Darth Santa himself!

The last workshop of the year was supported by Darth Santa himself!

Have a very happy Christmas  from all the team and we’ll be back next year!