The following is a guest post by Natalie Buda Smith, user experience team supervisor at the Library of Congress.
In recent blog posts, we shared how we continuously conduct usability testing and regularly release enhancements to make Congress.gov easier to use and search. We also use data analytics to understand website traffic, by monitoring visits, popular content, and frequent navigation paths. This insight also helps us optimize Congress.gov and informs our future releases.
Since January 2017, we have seen record-breaking traffic, with the milestone of 1.2 million page views in a single day. For comparison, in 2016 we averaged 43K daily visits. Average daily visits have increased 4 times, to 172K thus far in 2017.
Previously, our highest visits in a day were:
- 250,507 on March 22, 2013
- 111,355 on November 29, 2016
In 2017, the highest days so far have been:
- 1.2 million visits on January 22, 2017 and 847K on January 23, when H.R.193 – The American Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2017 and H.R.586 – Sanctity of Human Life Act, were the most popular content.
- 581K visits on February 5, with H.R.861 – To terminate the Environmental Protection Agency and H.R.899 – To terminate the Department of Education, were the most popular content.
- 548K visits on March 8, 2017, when H.R.1275 – World’s Greatest Healthcare Plan of 2017 went viral on social media and drove many new users to Congress.gov.
Besides the large increases in visits, there are other interesting changes in our web traffic. The percentage of traffic from mobile devices has greatly increased from 27% in 2016 to 52% in 2017, and traffic from social media hit a high of 40% of visits in February 2017, compared to an average of 5% in 2016. Legislation went viral on Facebook, with the bill summary for H.R.861 shared more than 200K times.
The most popular pages on Congress.gov are consistently the home page, search results and the Congressional Record, but legislation has been the major driver of traffic this year, also including (in numerical order):
- H.R.5 – The Regulatory Accountability Act of 2017.
- H.R.392 – Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2017.
- H.R.610 – To distribute Federal funds for elementary and secondary education in the form of vouchers for eligible students and to repeal a certain rule relating to nutrition standards in schools.
- H.R.899 - To terminate the Department of Education.
- H.R.1313 – Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act.
You can find the weekly Most-Viewed Bills | Top 10 at the top of the Congress.gov Home Page.
While we can not be 100% certain that these large increases in web traffic will continue, we can see that legislation is currently of great interest to the general public, and many new users are discovering Congress.gov.