Is what we measure wrong?

Like most bods in government organisations we love our statistics in the webteam and we can get loads of them from Google analytics. But recently we asked ourselves whether we are measuring the wrong things?

Each month we look at the number of unique visitors that come to the website and see how it compares to the same month the previous year. So far there has always been a year on year increase and so we pat ourselves on the back and get on with some content editing, but maybe we should be slapping ourselves in the face.

If we step back and look at the bigger picture we still have alot of people phoning up the council’s services or coming into our offices to see us. We doubt that it is because they are lonely or that it is because the council offices are handy for the Eurostar terminal.

So why is it?

Well we don’t have the answer just yet – that is one of the main aims of the website review, but we are starting to look suspiciously at the way in which services are designed for online delivery.

Like many brick and mortar industries that moved into the online world we have taken our existing processes and made them electronic. In our case we took all those information leaflets, that used to be only available in rotating stands in libraries or council offices and digitised them .

The next thing we did was take all of those forms that previously you had to either fill in a form with lots of tick boxes at the back of the leaflet and send off to request the form you wanted, or go to a special office to pick up, and make them electronic as well.

So now you can have all of the information that was in the leaflet and get access to the right form with a couple of clicks and it saves you on postage too, that has to be better right?

We also have a Plain English accreditation for our website which effectively says that we have done this process rather well. But the question is why is it that every month the number of people visiting the site is at least eight times more than those who are completing an online transaction?

If we had started out as a true internet business then wouldn’t this conversion rate have been the most important thing we were measuring?

That is why one of the main aims of the website review is trying to understand how to put people at the heart of the electronic service design – our next big question is how do we do that effectively? If you have any ideas please let us know.