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Don't measure everything, says DOE web manager

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It's possible with today's website analytics tools to gather a wealth of data and monitor every detail of user activity. But looking at everything can be a time drain that doesn't always result in actionable information, according to Trish Cozart, senior project leader for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's technology deployment tools team.

"You don't need to measure everything. Figure out what measurements really matter to you and put a plan in place to measure them," said Cozart during a Nov. 1 DigitalGov University webinar.

Cozart manages two websites, Cleancities.energy.gov and afdc.energy.gov, with two very different missions.

"They are two distinct websites with different purposes, and that means they have different metrics," said Cozart, who categorizes metrics as "leading" or "lagging" indicators.

Clean Cities aims to help stakeholders find and join a coalition; so, the leading indicators she's focused on measure the efficiency of that process. Cozart monitors how many new visitors view coalition profile pages and conversion rates of new visitors that visit coalition profiles.

The results, or lagging indicators, Cozart watches are the number of stakeholders in coalitions year to year, the rate of membership increase and the number of stakeholder inquiries coalitions received as a result of website referrals.

Cozart's other web property aims to provide web-based data, case studies, tools, and fuel and vehicle information that will help fleets make decisions. Eight leading indicators are associated with these goals, she said; however, she's particularly interested in four of them:

  • The depth of visit, or the number of page views per visitor;
  • the length of visit, or time on site;
  • loyalty, or the ratio of new to returning visitors; and,
  • referral quality, or the quality of the visitors coming to the site.

"The depth of visit, the length of visit is really helping me show how much visitors are getting involved in my content," said Cozart.

"On my other website, Clean Cities, I care about new visitors, but on this website I'm trying to increase returning visitors," said Cozart. "I want people to come back again and again and use this as a resource."

For more:
- go to the webinar page (includes archived webcast, presentation slides and speaker bios)

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