One of the greatest benefits of digital communication in general (and the web specifically) is the ability to use data for evaluation. The old adage from John Wanamaker that "Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half," does not apply to digital. In digital, we have the ability to use analytics to accurately measure the ROI of our marketing and communication efforts. But while most web teams do evaluate their web efforts, very few systematically evaluate their web operations. By evaluating your web operations, you will uncover valuable data to help fill in the missing information from traditional analytics. Web operations data helps measure the performance of your site both from a content perspective and a technical perspective, as well as measure the efficiency and performance of your web operations. This data can be broken down into two broad categories:
Quality Assurance Data
There are a number of critical factors that traditional web analytics programs don’t track, including broken links, spelling errors, SEO errors, coding errors, and accessibility issues.
Conformance to editorial style guides and web standards should be tracked over time as well. Sadly, most organizations spend valuable time and effort to create brand standards then fail to implement a process to evaluate conformance to these standards. On the technical side, uptime, response times, and overall technical performance should be documented.
The best reporting format for quality assurance data should include time-based graphs that make it easy to chart progress over time and present information in easily digestible chunks. Look for tools that allow you to aggregate data into customizable dashboards and share your findings with business stakeholders in a language they will understand.
Operational Efficiency Data
The goal for your web operations is to provide ongoing operational support in a cost-effective way. Operational efficiency reports should thus include the following:
- A report that details the resources spent on support and maintenanceIdeally, the system you use for managing daily web operations will include robust reporting functionality. The level of detail will vary depending on your needs.
- A report that details how much time is needed from the date a request is received (and approved) to the date the work is completedThe goal should be that all reasonable requests are completed in a reasonable amount of time.
- An evaluation of your web authoring environmentFor organizations that take a centralized approach, the focus will be on eliminating any bottlenecks. For organizations that have a decentralized approach, the focus will be on quality assurance. Because there is less control in a decentralized environment, developing tools and reports that identify distributed staff who may be struggling with their web authoring responsibilities will help address the situation. Download the info sheet "Centralized vs. Decentralized Web Teams".
As you think about creating a methodology to evaluate your web operations, it is important to find the delicate balance between the need for information and excessive administrative overhead. At some point, you will become inefficient if too much time is spent creating reports rather than performing the actual work.
Remember that all data should be actionable. Reports will not provide value unless they are the basis for decisions. For example, if there continues to be a large number of spelling errors and broken links, then the underlying reason needs to be corrected.
Ready to dig into your web operations’ analytics? Check out the
Web Analytics – Where to Begin E-Book to get started.