The CHC Website: a Tool to Promote Preservation
Once a website is up and running, how can you tell if it’s doing its job? Traffic to and around websites can be tallied and tracked, letting you know how many people have been visiting your website. Knowing the numbers and what they mean is valuable information for your County Historical Commission (CHC).
For example, Post Oak CHC's website has 100 views a month—60% of the views are on the historic buildings subpage but only 5% of the views are on the historic cemeteries subpage. Below are possible reasons that explain this inequity and solutions that may enhance the performance of the website.
- Viewers of this website are more interested in historic buildings than cemeteries;
- The historic building web pages provide information that is frequently requested, generating more traffic to those pages;
- The historic building web pages do a better job of balancing text with images, making them more interesting, visually speaking, than the cemetery pages;
- People have not been appropriately directed toward the cemetery section of the website, so people may not even know those web pages exist; and/or
- The CHC hosts events that highlight historic buildings, creating public interest for those resources.
Tracking website visitation numbers enables the CHC to compare activity levels from month to month. Waller CHC's website, which has received rave reviews from the public and county leaders, has received more than 500 website views in one month. In this case, 500 views in one month indicates high activity for Waller CHC's website. This tracking information suggests that there is a strong demand for the information Waller CHC is including on their website. If your website generates a high number of visitors, you should share this information with your judge and commissioners to demonstrate the importance of this particular aspect of CHC work.
To find options for tracking website activity, search the internet using the words, "website analytics." Visit the web links provided in the search results to view several basic and free options. Look for a product that will provide statistics for the following: how many people are visiting your website, which pages of the website are visited, and the average time someone stays on each page. If the county manages the CHC website, ask the county IT department to share this data with you. This information will help you to get the most out of your website—remember, your website is a promotional tool.
Using the CHC Website as a Reference Repository
Fully developed websites become repositories for history- and preservation-related reference material, such as historical marker lists, historic resource inventories, local survey information, and cultural resource management reports. Collin CHC has incorporated a county’s historical assets survey into its website under the “Historical Asset Survey Program.” The survey allows the public to locate existing and demolished resources on a map. Creating this type of visual map demonstrates how rich the county is in historic and cultural resources.
Experiment with posting several types of reference material and tailor the website to meet the needs of your county. Consider posting archival material that the public frequently requests. Include your website address on all handouts, brochures, social media, and business cards.
The website is a reflection of your organization; therefore, consider it an investment in the future of the CHC.
Thank you Waller CHC and Collin CHC for generating interest for county history through your websites!
Examples from Waller and Collin CHCs were gathered from annual CHC reports for the 2013 year of service.