Maciej Zawadziński: You work with both commercial customers and the public sector. Do you see any differences between how organizations from the sectors build their websites?
Niels Dekker: What I like about public sector websites is that they give the visitor peace of mind. I always advise to embrace this feeling when optimizing a website. Commercial organizations have different missions to accomplish. They are often forced to push their visitors along the conversion funnel and design their sites with that goal in mind.
Maciej Zawadziński: Commercial brands are all about optimizing their websites to get better conversions and revenue. Is the pursuit of optimization as strong in the public sector?
Fleur Boesenkool: The public sector content managers and communication advisors we meet are very involved with their content. They definitely feel the need to make it better. In general, I think that the public sector is highly interested in optimizations based on analytics data. We’re talking to several parties who are applying this approach in their work, or are exploring the possibilities.
That said, the public sector is still at the start of its journey with data-driven methods.
The public sector content managers and communication advisors we meet are very involved with their content. They definitely feel the need to make it better.
– Fleur Boesenkool
Maciej Zawadziński: Content writers, communication advisors, managers from different departments – there are many stakeholders interested in analytics data in a public sector organization. What does each party want to achieve with analytics data?
Niels Dekker: Content writers, communication advisors and webmasters are looking for the right tools to improve their work. They want to know if the changes they make match the goals of visitors (or target group). They want to see proof that they’re getting it right.
Management is more about maintaining control. They ask questions like: Are we doing the right things with our resources and budget? They are also more focused on trends and predicting the outcomes.
Maciej Zawadziński: As the public sector is at the beginning of its journey with data, there’s probably a lot of fear involved. What are the typical worries and objections of the public sector going into analytics?
Fleur Boesenkool: I wouldn’t call it necessarily “fear”. It’s rather a lack of awareness of how data can improve their work. They’re not data analysts and are not intrinsically triggered by numbers.
If you just drop a cool tool, it won’t work. There’s a profound need for the onboarding and adoption stage, during which public sector partners learn how to use data in their day-to-day work. At the beginning, we especially like to help create “small successes” for our partners – small adjustments that give good results in their daily work. When our partner is curious and likes to tinker, that helps as well. And simple data visualizations are helpful too.
Maciej Zawadziński: As you’ve said, data-driven culture in the public sector is in a very early stage. How do you approach complex tasks and get on the same level as with the commercial clients?
Niels Dekker: That can be accomplished by having a good dialogue with the end users. We always start by having a simple meeting with content writers, present the data for one of their pages and discuss its meaning in a very practical way. Our experience is that the creators can have quite an advanced take on the pages they write and the meaning of the presented data. We help them find what users’ actions stand behind the data and what they can do to improve these statistics.
Maciej Zawadziński: Here’s where Toon Vuursteen’s FTG analytics framework for the public sector comes into play. Toon is a Dutch thought leader in digital analytics for the public sector. Based on his recommendation, you’ve created a special dashboard for the public sector to track their success online. Why have you decided to work with Toon’s framework? What were your motivations here?
Niels Dekker: We certainly see a difference between the online presence of commercial organizations and the public sector. Much of the available frameworks were crafted for commercial companies, so it’s hard to use them in public organizations. The public sector’s online goals are less defined, so the structure of the FTG framework, designed with the public sector in mind, has great value right from the start.
Based on Toon’s ideas, we have built an analytics dashboard to make data more approachable for different people within the municipality. They are way broader than dashboards grounded in analytics alone. By presenting the data in a structured and goal-oriented way, they become much easier to interpret and act on.
Fleur Boesenkool: Municipalities want to be more data-driven. To reach this goal, the data they use has to be made accessible to anyone within the organization who needs it. A framework like the FTG-model translates the overwhelming output of an analytical system into a focused format based on the creator’s practical needs.
We certainly see a difference between the online presence of commercial organizations and the public sector. Much of the available frameworks were crafted for commercial companies, so it’s hard to use them in public organizations.
– Niels Dekker
Maciej Zawadziński: Has the FTG framework dashboards been deployed already? What do public sector customers think about it?
Fleur Boesenkool: Multiple customers use, or are in the process of developing, an FTG dashboard for their communications department. We are working with analysts, content creators and communication advisors to introduce more of them.
Niels Dekker: So far, we have built two dashboards based on the FTG framework for two major capitals in the Netherlands. The dashboards are used by content writers in cooperation with the facilitating departments. The reactions are great, the figures are easy to understand and give a useful perspective on the data.
Maciej Zawadziński: With this initial success, what are you planning to do next? What direction will the FTG dashboard project take?
Fleur Boesenkool: During the development of various dashboards, we noticed content creators and communication advisors alike are interested in the higher levels of the framework, meaning the citizen’s online journey. Different page types, linked in a specific order, create a task. Higher levels of the FTG framework make it possible to score the usability of the website based on various tasks that can be accomplished by visitors.
Niels Dekker: We have started with the lowest level of the FTG framework, the page level. This has given insights on how different pages influence overall website performance. The use of the page-level dashboard has also created the desire for better defined citizen online journeys, which will be the next step in our development process.
Fleur Boesenkool – data analyst at Swink, since 2016
Fleur is involved in data analysis with a focus on web data. She retrieves detailed user data with tools such as Piwik PRO and Tag Manager to map the surfing behavior of website visitors. She also creates dashboards in Power BI for Swink’s customers. With this, she makes connections across different data sources (such as user behavior on their website, their social media platforms and newsletters) and visualizes them.
Niels Dekker – data analyst at Swink, since 2018
Niels performs data analysis. As organizations often have different data flows, his job is to present them in the best possible way on a dashboard. This allows his clients to have all the information at a glance, but also gives them the opportunity to dig deeper if the data raises questions. This way, they can quickly make the right decisions, such as which goals they want to achieve with their organization.