January 2007 Archive

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January 29, 2007

clickdensity first impressions

@ 9:01 PM

At the PSF event last week the guys from Flintshire mentioned that they'd had a free trial of clickdensity (external link), the click tracking service from Box UK (external link) which launched last year. I remembered receiving some marketing from them recently, but hadn't followed it up.

I've been planning a front page redesign of ClacksWeb for a long time now, and needed some reliable information about how people are using the existing page. Server logs provide plenty of data, but there's nothing like visualisation for solidifying stats, so last week I signed us up at work for a builder account. 10 quid a month, it records up to 45,000 clicks across one site.

Heatmap of ClacksWeb front pageHere's a sample heatmap from the front page. This shows the clicks made on browsers running at 1024x768. One important note - I took this screen from Firefox, and most of the clicks would have come from IE, hence the slight offset in many of the click locations. Addendum - just found out that I could have used a setting to anchor clicks relative to the object clicked on, thus elimnating any offset or any background noise (e.g. clicks to re-gain focus).

The obvious things are, well, obvious - lots of people search, using both the site search and the postcode finder. Documents & publications and jobs are the two permanent features that get a good level of clicks, while 3 of the 13 main site sections are clearly more popular than the others (Education & Learning, Housing, Planning & Property). The main features block attracts good levels of traffic.

The downside is equally obvious. The graphical buttons get almost zero clicks. They need to go. No-one knows what MyClacksWeb is. The site map isn't a common destination from the front page.

This provides a heap of evidence to back up things that we already knew, or had suspicions about, and will be a real asset when we reassess how the front page should be set up. I'm hoping to find the time to get the work done by the end of February, and clickdensity will help us assess how successful the realignment is. It's a very cool service and can do a whole lot more than just heatmaps. If you're even vaguely interested head over there and sign up for a free account. I'll post more here when the time comes, together with some more heat maps from some online services.

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January 26, 2007

PSF Web Workshop review

@ 2:27 PM

On Wednesday I spent the day in Birmingham with a great bunch of people at the Public Sector Forums (external link) Web Workshop. Personally I had a very good day, and the feedback forms from the event suggest that almost all of the delegates did too. The few gripes about the time-keeping and the catering were well-founded, so we'll learn our lessons should we do something similar in the future.

I definitely shared the frustration about not being able to do the Information Architecture session full justice - it was planned to be the most interactive session, and together with the session on web strategies was one many people had expressed an interest in before the event. In the end time was against us and I had to rattle through it far too quickly. At least we had a bit of fun with the card sorting exercise.

We had a great presentation about Search Engine Optimisation and how it relates to government from Teddie Cowell of Neutralize (external link) and Search Engine War (external link), which I found fascinating. It's already had repercussions on DirectGov (external link), where less than 2 days later the previously obfuscated outbound links to local government sites are now real links, which means Google will love us more than they already do. Definitely a result.

And Jack Pickard (external link) helped me out during the QA session with an excellent demonstration of some of the tests we should all be performing regularly using nothing more than a decent browser and the Web Developer Toolbar.

Most of the delegates were from local government, with a few bods coming from the private sector and other government agencies like Transport for London (external link). In my experience, when I've been a delegate at this type of event, the networking with and contributions from colleagues in other authorities are just as useful as anything the speakers have to say, and I suspect this one was no different. We're still not very good in local government at sharing best practice, experiences or horror stories, even in this internet age, and often it's not until we get in company that we start to open up. The contributions from the floor were top notch, even with the south-west seeming to dominate at times. You know who you all are. ;-)

The wiki (external link) that was setup for the event might help a bit. It will probably go one of two ways - either folk will use it, contribute to it and it will grow into a useful resource, or they will come, take what they need and never darken its door again. Whatever happens I'll continue maintaining the links pages on the wiki, and adding anything interesting or new I come across (like clickdensity (external link), but I'll post about that at the weekend).

If you were at the event there will be an email winging its way to you soon with the wiki access details. If you weren't there, and you think you might be interested in contributing to a wiki loosely focussed (is that possible?) on government web stuff, drop me a note and I'll let you in.

January 17, 2007

@media 2007

@ 7:06 PM

Registration is now open, over at the @media site (external link).

I've signed up, the cast is stellar again, and it will be two streams again. So just like last year the only downside to the whole shebang will be having to decide between Malarkey and Tantec. Sort of like a bizarre web superstarTop Trumps type of thing.

January 14, 2007

Yesterday I was 20

@ 6:17 PM

Wii Fitness age of 20Although I've not been playing with my Wii a whole lot over the past month, only clocking up about 25 hours on Zelda, I have tried to do a Wii Sports fitness test daily. My score's hovered around the 27 mark, but yesterday I had a particularly good session and fooled my Wii into thinking I'm 20.

Back to 27 today, it was nice to be young again if only for a day!

As previously promised I'll post a full review of the Wii sometime soon, once the Public Sector Forums workshop (external link) (now sold out I'm very happy to say, should be a good day) is out of the way. Needless to say I'm still extremely impressed with it, and will miss it when I lend it to my nephew for a couple of weeks, once I've finished Zelda. What a nice uncle I am.

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