Quick thoughts, takeaways from the new federal government analytics dashboard

Source: analytics.usa.gov
Source: analytics.usa.gov

After reviewing the first iteration of the newly-launched analytics.usa.gov, here are some quick thoughts and takeaways:

  • The federal government fails the mobile-friendly test it created two years ago in the White House digital strategy. In fact, most of the top 20 most-visited federal .gov websites do not employ responsive web practices. Especially surprising is that nasa.gov isn’t mobile-friendly.
  • A number of these sites have complementary mobile apps, but given the traffic numbers and the fact that a third of web users are coming from mobile devices, resources allocated to app development is a seemingly wasted investment, especially since responsive web design is a “two birds one stone” approach to digital services. Once the General Services Administration’s Digital Analytics Program exposes that data, we’ll know more.
  • irs.gov is in need of a major overhaul, especially given the number of users who visit the site. This should be the top priority of the White House digital and technology leadership teams.
  • Users are visiting .gov websites for services, not to learn about government. Developers of .gov websites should be asking themselves what the service is citizens need from a particular agency rather than creating a brochure website about the agency or its secretary. Many of these still fall into the latter category.
  • uscis.gov is leading on these fronts.
  • Every .gov domain should have a /analytics pages that redirects to their respective analytics.usa.gov pages.
  • Given its momentum around adopting open source technologies, would be interesting to see government explore the use of Piwik for web analytics.
  • I’d love to see an integration with the analytics numbers to the respective budgets of each site’s development costs. Example: When searching irs.gov on usaspending.gov, you find that from (what appears to be) 2008-2011, more than $62 million was allocated to site development. Given that usaspending.gov is fairly confusing, this type of information would be great to see linked in connection to analytics. We could then see how development costs stack up to actual usage and make a real return on investment analysis on these projects. This would start to get us closer to what a real IT dashboard should look like.
  • There’s been a lot of attention on the big number showing how many users are currently on a .gov website. It’s an interesting visual, but mostly emphasizes how many users are underserved by the federal government’s approach to web design and development.
  • Will be great to see a drill-down of the analytics for all domains.
  • This is incredible work and kudos to everyone involved. The White House should host a cook-out celebration for everyone who helped build analytics.usa.gov. I don’t think most people realize the opportunities into government efficiency, transparency and better serving citizens that will be realized as this dashboard is enhanced.

About Luke Fretwell

Luke Fretwell is the founder of GovFresh. He is also co-founder and CEO of ProudCity. Connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn or email at luke@govfresh.com.

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