Measuring success: awards and metrics

As 'blog' is only two letters away from 'brag', I'm taking this opportunity to record for posterity that on 16 November the National Library's main website took out the Best New Zealand Plain English Website award at the Writemark Plain English Awards.

The site was judged on criteria including credibility, language, overall layout and presentation, and my own pet cause, link text.

Among the nice things the judges (including Rachel McAlpine) said was that our blogs "make the library seem like a live place containing active human beings".

Come December we'll be making the first evaluation of this and the Create Readers blogs. Comments like those from the Plain English judges will be bound into the evaluation: other things we'll be looking at include the numbers of posts and comments, site visitation, RSS subscriptions, and the staff benefits and costs for running the blogs (e.g. learning a new skill; time spent writing posts).

In a timely fashion, yesterday (via Seb Chan on Fresh + New(er)) I found Avinash Kaushik's post Six Recommendations for Measuring Success of a Blog. As Seb notes, Kaushik's measurements are useful for museums (I'm extrapolating libraries) as they're good for blogs that are focused on rich content and information-sharing.

Kaushik's measurements, in a condensed form, are:

Raw Author Contribution: number of posts, number of words per post, and consistency of posting.

Holistic Audience Growth: trends in site visitation, unique visitors, and RSS subscriptions.

Conversation Rate: How many comments are your posts generating?

"Citations" / "Ripple Index": trends in Technorati ranking, and in the number of blogs linking to your blog (again using Technorati as an analytics tool).

Cost: technology, time, opportunity (what else could you be doing if you weren't blogging?).

Benefit: Return on investment, measured through direct value, "non-traditional" value and "unquantifiable" value.

These are all things we were planning to evaluate, but presented in a far more coherent framework than I'd come up with yet.

By Courtney Johnston

Courtney did almost every job in the web team, and is now out in the world and in charge of everything.

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