Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Thinking about ROI on a State Website

The last month has flown by and I haven't had a chance to respond to many of the comments that I have received via email, Twitter, etc. We have made a number of changes to the website based on feedback that we have received. At the same time, we are moving forward now with new services and many other interesting initiatives. I also tend to pay a lot of attention to quantitative data to help determine how to proceed with things and it is no different with our egovernment initiatives. In 2007, we put together a strategic egov plan for the state of Utah with input from across the state. That plan was designed to go through mid-2009. We began putting together the 2009-2012 egov plan over 6 months ago and it is now quite robust. We just haven't had time to put it into a publishable format.

The goals and concepts laid out in the plan have been shared internally with key personnel in state agencies. That gets to the ROI question. How do we determine that the value goals that we set up for our egovernment initiatives are being met and that we continue to move forward, rather than treading water or worse, move backward? We have learned that putting up a nice website is not a guarantee for increasing its use, or more importantly, increasing the use and utility of the services and information associated with it. Here are some things for managers of government websites to ask and measure:
  • Is your web initiative aligned with the policies and goals of elected leaders?
  • What are the utilization trends for your overall domain?
  • How many services do you offer? What is the adoption rate for those services? (percent of the total transactions performed - online and offline) How are the adoption rates trending?
  • Is your site optimized for search engines? Are you using sitemaps and metadata that helps external sources direct traffic to your domain?
  • Do you understand you user demographics? How are you using that information to improve what you offer?
  • Are we making business process adjustments to fully leverage potential efficiency gains?
Once you have the answers to these questions, there are many more that could, and should, be asked. But if you can optimize on these, you will be progressing. And you can't just do it and stop. In 2008, with support from many state agencies, our traffic and adoption both climbed dramatically. In the first few months of 2009, it has declined from 2008. We're not even sure yet what caused that, there are perhaps too many potential factors to completely understand. On the other hand, we are still significantly better than we were in 2007 and know that there are things we can do to improve the statistics.

Here are a few of the tools that we use:
  • Google Analytics
  • Quantcast
  • Alexa
  • custom service satisfaction surveys
  • Social media feedback
  • Press releases

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