We recently participated in the Analysis Exchange program, a resource mentioned in our Google Analytics Toolkit. It’s a free service that pairs non-profits with a student/mentor teams that work with you on a project to deliver high-value analytics insights. Overall, our experience with the program was positive, and we’d like to share our experience and insights with the LawHelp community, so that you too might consider using this resource.
What’s involved with engaging in an Analysis Exchange Project?
To get started, we wanted to first get a better understanding of the requirements for non-profits engaging in an Analysis Exchange Project to make sure we had the internal bandwidth. We had our AmeriCorps VISTA, Patrick Reynolds, complete a review of the requirements. They were outlined pretty clearly by the Analysis Exchange and estimated only a few hours of time investment by the non-profit. Here are the steps (which should take about three weeks):
- Join the analysis exchange, which involves filling out a short profile about your organization
- Create a project by briefly outlining your project goals
- Select one mentor and one mentee who have expressed interest in the project after reading their Analysis Exchange profiles
- Arrange a time to meet with the mentor and mentee to discuss the project and timeline
- Meet with the mentor and mentee for a presentation of their analysis to your organization
- Evaluate your mentee and mentors efforts on the project
Our Project Process
For our project, we decided to focus on usability, specifically how users navigate the national lawhelp.org and lawhelp.org/es homepages. We hoped to get a better understanding of how Google Analytics could help us see this navigation, and ultimately identify areas of need around site usability improvements. This took about an hour of work to articulate a project goal.
Shortly after submitting our project, there were a handful of possible mentors and mentees who expressed interest in our project. We were really impressed with the caliber of mentors and mentees who asked to be on our project and ended up working with Aaron (our project mentor) and Rosa (our project mentee).
We then moved quickly to arrange a time to virtually meet and introduce ourselves. For this meeting, we created a structured agenda that included introductions, an overview of our organization, our LawHelp.org program, our LawHelp.org site, our experience with Google Analytics, and an introduction to our project goals. We felt it was very important to do some context setting to provide Aaron and Rosa with the background they would need to successful execute the project. During this discussion, we also defined some concrete outcomes we hoped to see after verifying the scope of our project was workable from Aaron and Rosa’s perspective. The meeting prep and meeting itself took about two hours total.
After a few days processing our discussion, we worked with Aaron and Rosa to arrange a time to review their work. It took Rosa and Aaron about two weeks (during the holiday season no less!) to complete the project for our review. Aaron and Rosa were very prepared – they had a PowerPoint presentation prepared that was structured nicely and full of information. We needed to take time as an organization to digest their recommendations and how they fit into our larger technology plan, but Aaron and Rosa were very open to follow-up questions about additional resources, clarification points, etc. after the presentation. The final step was completed mentor and mentee evaluations. The final review, internal debrief with our staff, and evaluations took about three hours.
In total, we invested about six hours of time into the project; our mentee invested about fifteen hours of her time and our expert worked on the project for about 12-14 hours of his time. Additionally, throughout the process, the Analysis Exchange sent check-in emails and was quick to respond to any questions or concerns that we had.
Outcomes and Next Steps
The final result of the project was a set of comprehensive, expert recommendations to help our program staff and tech team make improvements to our Google Analytics profile. These improvements will help us more accurately configure our Google Analytics and provided us with ideas for implementing changes to help us better understand user behavior on the site. These steps may ultimately lead us toward usability improvements on LawHelp.org and LawHelp.org./espanol.
Based on our experience, here are a few lessons learned and considerations for LawHelp community members interested in the Analysis Exchange:
- Check out the Analysis Exchange’s additional resources, such as their video explanation on how to create a project, their Opportunities and Expectations Handbook, and their blog for case studies.
- Define your goals carefully. It is the key to a successful project. Make sure that the scope is not too broad, and make sure the goals lend themselves to concrete outcomes and steps you can take.
- Take time for introductions. Introduce your organization, website, website strategy, and project goals to your mentee and mentor for larger context. Don’t forget to find out more about their interest in the project too!
- Clarify concrete outcomes you hope to gain from the project. This will help to set expectations around the project final product and provide you with concrete, implementable next steps.
If you are interested in learning more about our experience with the Analysis Exchange, or might be interested in starting your own project, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org!