As I’ve discussed previously, technology and I aren’t exactly in a friendly relationship all the time. By and large, I don’t understand nearly as much as I probably should about computers and websites and other applications. So some of the more technical aspects of Brad Best’s web analytics lecture, such as what exactly Google Analytics measures on different websites and how it measures them, went over my head. However, I was able to glean from it the broader importance of web analytics for websites.
It seemed to me that web analytics would certainly be helpful from the strategic communications and public relations side of journalism, when creating websites to represent clients and help sell a product. I though it would perhaps be more helpful in that regard than when creating a website that provides information on a subject such as those we are creating for our final projects, but I also picked up on certain things that can be understood from web analytics that can help create a better informational, reporting-type website as well.
The reports that web analytics create, such as those that monitor page views and how long a site visitor remains on that particular page for instance, could certainly be an indication of a hidden gem within the journalistic website. If people seem to visit a page that houses a smaller sidebar of the overall story more often than the page that features the intended main focus of the story , this could be an indication to pursue a couple of different actions.
1) Redesign the website to ensure an even larger number of people see the popular page.
2) If the sub-story seems to be garnering a lot of popularity, pursue it further. Turn it into an even larger story that can add to what has already been reported. People have already expressed an interest in it, so even though it was originally only a smaller aspect of the overall story, it is obviously something that would please the audience if they received more.
Web analytics, in this way, are another way in which journalists can communicate with the audience, though this is not a direct communication in the same way that Tweets or Facebook comments are. Journalists can get a further understanding, though, of what types of stories, which aspects of certain stories, what sort of story presentation, etc. audiences enjoy. This information can then be used in the future to pursue other similar things and address the audience’s wants and needs when it comes to news.