Health Resources and Services Administration’s Analytics Success: Using Analytics to Reduce Content and Improve User Experience
Unlike out-of-town guests, you want your web visitors to stick around. So, if your site continues to see a bounce rate that stubbornly refuses to drop—it’s time to make some changes.
That’s exactly what happened to the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Maternal and Child Health Bureau’s (MCHB) website. Last year, in 2015, the site’s average bounce rate was 63% — and more than 70% for some key landing pages. And given the non-mobile-responsiveness of the site, it was unsurprising that the average mobile bounce rate climbed even further, reaching nearly 77%.
Those facts alone sounded alarm bells. But then we dug deeper.
Uncovering the Problem(s)
First, we plunged head-first into an analysis of available analytics via the Digital Analytics Program—beyond the bounce rate. We needed to expose all the issues if we planned to fix them.
We looked at three main things:
- Top Content report (to weed out low-value content)
- Search Terms report (to identify high-value content and content gaps)
- Navigation Summary (to understand how users were navigating through the site)
The results told us two things:
- We needed to re-evaluate the organization of our content.
- There were hundreds of low-value content pages. And an overwhelming number were inaccessible to users—instead, buried deep in the recesses of our content management system.
A Course of Action
So, much of the content needed to go. And the rest of it—though clearly popular and valuable—still came with its own weaknesses. Dense, complicated text sprinkled with acronyms and legal jargon.
We divided the content into three piles: remove, revise and develop. The latter being the brand-new content we’d need to fill the gaps. It would be quite the undertaking—568 pages, to be exact.
When all was said and done, we reduced the content by a whopping 91%*. We also moved forward with a complete site revamp by:
- streamlining the user experience with tile-based navigation
- assuring users the ability to use our site no matter their device by switching to responsive templates, and
- improving readability through the implementation of plain language principles and web best practices.
Using information architecture validation software, we surveyed over 90 active stakeholders and determined that our assumptions about the site’s IA were overwhelmingly correct.
Ready. Set. Revamp.
Launching in July 2016, our site has already begun to show improvements—including a gradual lowering of our site’s bounce rate. Given data from previous site revamps, we expect key metrics will continue to show progress over time.
*Caveat: The MCHB site links out to several sub-sites controlled by different contractors. The 91% only takes into account pages removed from our content management system._Christy Choi, Mackenzie Cummings, and Richard Morey work in the Health Resources and Services Administration Office of Communications_ _This post is part of an ongoing series of case-studies highlighting how the federal government is using the Digital Analytics Program (DAP) to improve websites for the end-user. If you have an analytics success story to share, or want to get your federal government site participating in DAP, please contact us via email._
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