Using web analytics to explore the common pain points

A common pain point people face when interacting with government is difficulty finding the information they need. The GovX and .gov.au Observatory teams recently collaborated to explore how web analytics data can help us to better understand this pain point.

Why we collaborated

The GovX and .gov.au Observatory teams have different areas of focus and ways of working, but share a common goal: to improve people’s experience when dealing with government.

GovX:

  • focuses on qualitative research methods to holistically map life events
  • analyses interactions with government
  • identifies opportunities for improvement.

The Observatory uses large-scale data to:

  • measure how people interact with government services
  • empower and support teams to provide better services.

We combined our complementary research approaches to uncover a new perspective on the common pain points identified by GovX.

What we discovered

Previous GovX research showed that people have trouble finding information on government websites, so we focused on the common pain point of ‘difficult to find information’. Web analytics help us understand how people use websites and provide insights into the problems people experience finding the information they need.

We analysed Google Analytics data from nearly 40 Observatory subscribers during the first 3 months of 2021. We used some ‘out of the box’ metrics such as average time on page, pages per session, and bounce rate. We also created new metrics, including traffic generated by new users and referrals from other government websites.

Our analysis revealed patterns in the way users interact with federal level Australian Government websites. New and returning users behave differently, with returning users spending more time on page and visiting more pages. People who access sites from a search engine view fewer pages per session, suggesting they find content more directly than people who come from other sources. We also found that a significant proportion of visitors move from one government website to another. You can read our full findings in our research report.

Applying this research

It’s important to think carefully when interpreting web analytics. A user visiting a high number of pages may be very engaged with your content, or they could be having difficulty finding information. A bounced session may have been someone who found what they needed immediately, or someone who came to the wrong place. Web analytics can show us where patterns occur but targeted research using other methods is required to understand why they occur.

The team was mindful that web analytics are most effective when evaluated in the context of a website's function and purpose. One of our project goals was to make it easy for agencies to explore this common pain point in their context. We developed comparative benchmarks for the key metrics we analysed.

Agencies using Google Analytics 360 will be able to use these benchmarks to compare key metrics for their site with the Observatory’s overall subscriber base.

The illustration above shows how your website can be compared to a benchmark metric’s frequency distribution.

If your agency uses Google Analytics 360, you’ll be able to directly compare your data with the benchmarks using the Observatory’s Google Data Studio template. We created this tool to make it easier for you to diagnose this common pain point and identify specific areas on your site where information might be hard to find.

Find out more

We’ve published our full research report on the Observatory’s research repository.

To access the Google Data Studio tool or to learn more about the .gov.au Observatory and the services they provide, please contact observatory@dta.gov.au.

For more information about GovX, the common pain points or life event research, contact the GovX team on govx@dta.gov.au or join our online Life Event Communities.