After testing out Parse.ly’s analytics in the fall, this spring we used Parse.ly’s report-generating function to compare our analytics data over time and find the best ways to improve our page views and readers’ on-page duration. The reports function — which creates easy-to-read, visually appealing reports in seconds, based on whatever customized factors we want — has quickly become essential to our long-term operations.
Last semester, our concern was a drop in online readership — something we still monitor. My predecessor noted how we had editors track which modes of presentation were most effective, what news merited more coverage, and where our referrals were coming from via Parse.ly beginning in September to combat this issue. This semester, however, with our enhanced knowledge of analytics from the fall, we took our use of Parse.ly a step further, focusing mostly on readers’ duration on the page and whether they moved between articles after being referred to our site.
What we discovered was that duration on the page was heavily correlated with the presence of multimedia — including graphics, videos, photos, timelines, charts, you name it — because our readers ultimately want a visual product. The same characteristics that drew us to Parse.ly — its simple, aesthetically appealing, and informative platform — were keeping our readers on some of our articles, while a lack of visual appeal deterred them from staying on others. We doubled our efforts to incorporate multimedia into our work, expanding our multimedia teams, thereby making room for more students to join our newspaper in the process.
Moving forward, as we plan a website redesign for our paper, we hope to make our site as visually appealing as we’ve now learned it needs to be. We would not have understood that need — what our readers are most drawn to — were it not for Parse.ly’s analytics. In order for us to provide our peers with the best news and in the most accessible way, we need to offer that news in the best possible format. We learned that from using Parse.ly, a now-essential tool for our newsroom.
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