Tracking access to your site
There are a number of things you could use for this, the most well-known being Google Analytics. Since the EU Privacy Directive was put in place in 2011 (https://ico.org.uk/for-the-public/online/cookies/) we stopped adding Google Analytics to Citizen Space, unless specifically requested. This article may also be useful for background: https://delib.zendesk.com/entries/21455358-how-does-citizen-space-comply-with-the-eu-privacy-directive
Firstly, a couple of warnings about Google Analytics:
1. It can be quite a complex tool to use, although you may not find it too difficult if you are only interested in looking at some basic data. If you want to go further, this will require a reasonably detailed understanding of web analysis. There is some useful material online to help you learn, mostly provided by Google (you can see this at the bottom of the article), but you should be aware it will require some time and effort!
2. By embedding a Google tracking code in your website, you are giving Google the ability to associate that user with other online activity, and with various bits of data, which all go into creating a profile of that person's internet activity. For many people, this won't really be a concern, as the data is all relatively abstract - but if users are entering what is potentially sensitive and personally identifiable information on your site, you give someone who has access to both a) consultation responses and b) web analytics the opportunity to breach a respondent's anonymity. This risk is quite remote, as there is no one who is likely to both have that information and the desire to do that - but it is worth consideration in terms of your ethical stance on privacy and your data protection concerns.
We can't specifically recommend Google Analytics, but it is by far the most popular tool available for doing this kind of thing - so the chances are you will end up using it, if tracking access is what you want to do.
Google has its own set of articles on how to use the application. They are laid out in easy to understand format in the help pages - we would suggest you read through these to get a detailed understanding of how GA works and what you can get out of it. However, we give you an introduction below on how to use it with Delib products:
Setting up Google Analytics on your Delib app:
1. This Google article explains the basics of setting up an account. On the homepage, click 'Access Google Analytics' (in the top right corner), then click sign up. You will need a Google account (you can do this without a gmail address, see here for how). You will need to create a name for your GA account and enter the URL of the main site you want to track.
2. Once your account has been created, you'll be taken to your home screen, with your tracking code shown below, for example:
If you need to find your tracking code again, you can get to it by going to the 'Admin' tab at the top of the page when you sign into Analytics, then go to 'Tracking info'
4. We'll add this code to your Citizen Space/Dialogue App/Budget Simulator website.
Notes on using GA
There are different levels of permission users can have within one GA account - this article explains more. Essentially you can track multiple sites using one account, and give multiple viewers permission to view the analytic data. You can track up to 50 sites (or 'properties', in Google parlance) from one account. This may be useful if you are running multiple consultations and want to track them all.
It's also important to note that when you set up an analytics account, it will not capture historic data - so if users have already been accessing your site before you implemented analytics, they won't show up in the data.
What can you do with Google Analytics?
The key functionality of Google Analytics is to provide data about the people who are viewing your site. The data that will be most interesting to you are probably:
- How many people have viewed the site.
- How long each of them spent on the site once they were there (called a 'session').
- Where the site has been viewed from (this will be particularly important if you are running a local consultation - you will want to be sure that most of those who are viewing and responding to your consultation are in the area concerned!).
- The 'bounce rate'. A 'bounce' is when a user accesses the site, but then leaves immediately without actually clicking on anything. A high bounce rate might mean you need to work on your homepage to make it more accessible or appealing (there is another phrase, '% exit', that you will also come across in analytics - it has a very similar meaning).
These are the basic data - you may not want to view anything more than this. You will get all of this data when you login, go to the 'Reporting' tab at the top of the page, and then select 'My dashboard', under 'Dashboards' on the left-hand column. You'll see an image like this:
By clicking on 'add widget' at the top-left hand corner, you can add another infographic of your choice to the dashboard, if there are metrics you are particularly interested in.
Note: Checking the 'hits' for a particular consultation
This information should be contained with the 'behaviour' tab on the Google Analytics sidebar. If you scroll down on the sidebar, and open up Behaviour -> Site Content -> All Pages, you will see a list of all the pages on your site that have been viewed by their url. There is a search bar above the list, so you can type in some of the url you are concerned with. You will then see a list of figures relating to that url - 'Unique Pageviews' is the one that roughly translates to the number of hits.
There are also various options to do slightly more sophisticated analysis. These can all be accessed on the toolbar along the left hand side of the screen:
'Intelligence events' - this is basically a functionality that sends you alerts when there are spikes in activity around your site. You can set custom alerts for when particular events happen.
'Acquisitions' - this is about showing you where people are coming to your site from - so, are they coming to it via searching for X council budget consultation online, or are they coming to it through a link on the council website?
'Real Time' - Quite self-explanatory: this will let you look at activity on your site in real time.
'Behaviour' - This lets you look at how users are 'behaving' on your site - how long they are spending on each page, for example (see above)
Learning more about Google Analytics.
There are plenty of useful resources provided by Google itself if you want to get the most out of using its product. Their help pages are very useful if you want to learn more. You can also have a look at 'Analytics Academy' - this is a set of more in-depth, free online 'courses' from Google that teach your more about using GA, and about digital analytics in general. You can access it here.
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