STATISTICAL COMMISSION andECONOMIC COMMISSION FOR EUROPECONFERENCE OF EUROPEAN STATISTICIANSENGLISH ONLYWork session on Statistical Output forWORKING PAPER No. 19Dissemination to Information Media(Cork, Ireland, 22 - 25 June 1998)An analysis of Bureau of Justice Statistics website usage statisticsSubmitted by the US Bureau of Justice Statistics
Web statistics — Measuring user activityAn analysis of Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) website usage statisticsby Marianne W. ZawitzStatisticianMay 1998U.S. Department of JusticeOffice of Justice ProgramsBureau of Justice Statistics
ContentsSummary1Website activity statistics2Commonly used measures2What web statistics don’t tell us3Comparing web statistics3Analyzing BJS website activity4BJS website findings4Web page activity5Downloads6Publications7Press releases9Data to download9How BJS is using its web statistics12Future developments12Web Statistics— Measuring user activity
SummaryWith the advent of the World Wide Web, statisticsabout activity on websites have proliferated.Webmasters commonly throw out numbers aboutthe number of hits their site receives. But there islittle understanding about what is being measuredand the meaning of the measurement. Most of theexisting measures resulted from the need tomanage web servers and not to manage theircontent. Simple counts of measures that we donot fully understand provide no real information.To further compound our misunderstanding, thesestatistics are used to compare sites when they maynot be measuring the same thing. Most web activity reports are snapshots of what ishappening at a single point in time. Because ofchanges in technology and analysis, eachsnapshot can be taken with a different lens, chang-ing the way we look at the data with each view. Unfortunately, the only way we can draw anymeaning from the data is through long term trendanalysis. In other words, we need to be able toknow that we are measuring the same thing in thesame way each time in order to be able tocompare activity from one time period to the next.Measurement of website activity and the technol-ogy to support that measurement are in the earlieststages of development. New approaches arebeing developed which should provide answers tosome of our questions on the use and utility of oursites. With an overlay of analysis, web statisticscan become the useful tools needed to discoverunderlying patterns of use so that we can improveour sites to meet our clients’ needs. However, webactivity statistics cannot answer all of our questionsabout website use. Additional sources of informa-tion in combination with web statistics are neededto provide a more comprehensive portrait of theeffectiveness of our websites and our overalldissemination strategies.
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