18F builds web analytics dashboard

Who’s online now? 18F builds web analytics dashboard

Marking its one-year anniversary, 18F unveiled analytics.usa.gov, a public digital analytics dashboard for almost 300 executive branch government domains, including every cabinet department.

Like metrics from Google Analytics, the site shows which government pages are most popular and which devices, browsers and operating systems people are using.

The White House said it plans to use the insights gleaned from dashboard “to focus our digital service teams on the services that matter most to the American people and analyze how much progress we are making.”

Among the initial insights are that 33 percent of all traffic to government sites tracked came from mobile devices, up from 24 percent last year.  Seasonal services or unexpected events drive people to government sites for information, which explains why the IRS has the most visited site.

Developed by 18F, the digital services delivery team housed at the General Services Administration, analytics.usa.gov was built in two to three weeks, the team said on its blog. But the group expects to make improvements so that the tool can handle dynamic queries and be easily shared with other agencies.

The analytics.usa.gov dashboard is a static website, 18F said, that is stored in Amazon S3 and served via Amazon CloudFront.  Real-time data is downloaded from the Google Analytics Real Time Reporting API. According to the team, “the analytics.usa.gov dashboard is a static website …The dashboard loads empty, uses JavaScript to download JSON data and renders it client-side into tables and charts.” The group took this approach, they said, because it can “handle potentially heavy traffic to live data without having to scale a dynamic application server.”

In the spirit of openness, all the data used in the dashboard can be downloaded from a menu below the dashboard; code for the dashboard and the data reporting system is available on GitHub.

In the year since its creation, 18F has developed an number of tools including Discovery, the OASIS market research tool; FBOpen, a set of open-source tools to help small businesses search for opportunities to work with the U.S. government; api.data.gov, a hosted, shared-service that provides an API key, analytics and proxy solution for government web services; and Midas, a platform that facilitates collaboration.

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