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Governance Project: Website Development
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Reports relating to trillium grant application items relating to the publiccommons.ca database:
What we want to do:
1. build the database capacity to (a) enrich the research data, (b) feature a friendly, simple “How do I...” section in connection with each of the issues addressed and (c) develop a function that allows users to comment and add information, a kind of local version of Wikipedia relating to public commons
The database capacity is unrestricted.
(a) the database can hold a variety of records, including original documents, and imported data in the form of document files (mostly pdf's), links to external websites, pictures, document extracts (such as sections of emails), and widgets (embedded html code from other websites such as youtube). These records are organized into topics (main subjects) or folders (supporting material)
(b) there is a "How do I..." section. This is one of many topics currently in the database, and can be easily expanded. Moreover, the section of home page visible first to users is "Using the Commons", which provides an even more in-depth view of getting involved with public space.
(c) members can add comments to any record in the database. In addition, the editor can authorize certain members (number unrestricted) to maintain blogs on the site. Each blog can have an unrestricted number of blog entries.
In February 2013 publiccommons.ca became "mobile friendly". When it detects a narrow screen it moves the sidebars to dropdowns at the top, making the required width much narrower. When this narrow it also turns off auto preview for link and pdf records to save bandwidth (users are instead given the option of seeing a preview with a click).
How will you know you have succeeded? What measurements will help you decide if you have been successful?
The database will be a kind of local Wikipedia for urban parks issues. It will have a minimum of 300 new searchable, cross-linked records pertaining to the public commons. Matching the pattern of the other two CELOS-run websites, the CELOS usage will have quadrupled the first year, and doubled again the year after.
As of February 11, the database contains the following (a small portion are hidden from the public pending further processing):
Total: 6,985 records. This far exceeds plan.
These records are searchable using widely available search boxes using internal keyword search, or a site specific google search. All records are cross-linked to containers (topics or folders), and in many cases each other (attachments). Records can each be associated with one or more topic or folder, and often are, for easier exploration of the database.
So far the database usage has not expanded rapidly (this is below plan). According to Google analytics there were 530 visits of 215 people viewing 7,991 pageviews (about 15 pages per visit) between Jan 11 and Feb 10, 2013.
From March 12, 2012 (when we started keeping statistics) , to Feb 10, 2013 (about 11 months) there were 4,748 visits of 1,863 people invoking 90,684 pageviews. Almost 40% are new visitors.
We believe that the greatest challenge currently is managing the high volume of content by organizing and annotating it in ways that casual visitors can easily follow and understand. Our past experience is that there is some threshold of content richness beyond which usage and referrals begins to grow more quickly.
In addition, we have segregated two important aspects of the database (although owing to the high volume this work is ongoing):
Given our experience with cityrinks.ca (over 176,000 visits and 365,000 pageviews in the same 11-month period) based on the very practical nature of the information on that website, we expect that over time this organization of publiccommons.ca will positively impact the readership of publiccommons.ca.
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