As the year draws to a close, we thought we’d look back over what we’ve done in 2018. The projects, the challenges, the things we learned, and what we’re looking forward to in the new year.

Here’s what we picked…

What’s something you learned?

Tess

Working out a completion time on a purchase path.

As part of the Royal Academy’s move to Tessitura, we helped set some KPI’s to measure the project’s success. As part of this, we wanted to see if users completed purchases quicker on the new purchase path. This proved to be quite complex (having to save a timestamp in a cookie and deduct that from the time a purchase was completed) and while the solution has a few wrinkles, it was a fun one to work on.

Credit goes to Julian from Measureschool who had created a similar solution that we adapted.

Chris

One thing?! I think at some point this year I pointed out that pretty much every project we work on has something new about it. That’s not a complaint, by the way. On the technical side of things, I brushed up on my SQL and learned a little Python. I got my head round how to make Data Studio community connectors too.

I’ve also been

What’s your favourite thing you worked on?

Tess

Towards the end of this year we’ve worked with Cogapp on various projects. One of which involved setting up website analytics for The Visual Commentary on Scripture. I really enjoyed this project as it’s always nice to work on a project from scratch, as you can organise the tracking exactly as you want it. From setting up the tracking to creating a clear, concise report with Data Studio. Plus Cogapp are great to work with!

Visual Commentary on Scripture | VCS.jpg

The other favourite thing I worked on is a bit of a random choice. It involved analysis of ad campaigns for a festival of innovation. It was a relatively small piece of work and, due to some issues with the data, the insight wasn’t as clear as hoped. However, the problem solving and delving into the detail was really rewarding.

It might sound odd, but it’s not often we get to do that kind of deep analysis. A lot of the time we work on auditing, setting up tracking, and creating dashboards and reports so that our clients can do their own analysis.

Chris

Oh, too many to mention really. We worked on some really good stuff this year. If pushed, I’d say I did a lot of interesting things for the V&A this, and maybe the tracking for their newly added sitewide search functionality was my favourite. That involved:

  • Finding workarounds for some of Google Analytics’ site search limitations

  • Tracking four different search instances - the ‘normal’ main site search, autosuggest, and specific search for shop and collections

  • Working with the Digital Media team to add data layer values and data attributes to make all of the above possible

  • Discovering that emojis display in Google Analytics

I also really enjoyed getting back out and speaking at events after taking a year off from that sort of thing. The Arts Marketing Association’s Digital Marketing Day was good, not least because I got to show a spreadsheet on a massive screen.

What was the trickiest thing you worked on?

Tess

At the beginning of the year the Royal Academy relaunched its shop on the latest version of Magento. The RA shop sells merchandise as well as high end art products, with the two types of products sharing the same purchase path. It’s difficult to work out separate conversion rates for the two types of products within Google Analytics, but it’s important for the client, so that’s what we did.

Royal Academy of Arts Shop.jpg

There have probably been trickier projects this year, but I’ve chosen this one as it’s a solution that’s extremely helpful across other clients too, with more and more clients using single purchase pathways but wanting an understanding of more specific conversion rates.

Chris

This one’s easy. In-gallery interactives. It’s not easy to debug data on a machine where you can’t access the dev console or preview a GTM container, or when a session times out after 30 seconds of idleness.

What’s more, the same question came up a couple of times this year. How do you get usage data from in-gallery interactives to Google Analytics (or similar) if the machine itself isn’t connected to the internet? It turns out it’s not impossible, but not easy either.

What was your cultural highlight of the year?

I was lucky enough to go to Paris last weekend and went to various tourist hotspots including Atelier des Lumières, Fondation Louis Vuitton, Pompidou Centre, the Botanical Gardens (Shining a light on species), and the Eiffel Tower. While they were all brilliant in their own way, I’d say the Atelier des Lumières was the most fun. A Guardian article explains it better than I can:

Using state-of-the-art visuals and audio, artists’ works are transformed as images of their paintings are projected (using 140 laser video projectors) on to (and across) 10-metre-high walls over the vast 3,300 square metre surface area of the renovated 19th-century building. These images provide an immersive and panoramic show throughout the space, to a sound track of music by Wagner, Chopin, Beethoven and others, using an innovative “motion design” sound system, with 50 speakers programmed to complement the 3D visual experience.

Chris

I’ve not been to out very much this year (having a baby will do that to your social life), but seeing lots of César Manrique’s work around Lanzarote was good.

What are you looking forward to in 2019

Tess

Continuing to work with Royal Museums Greenwich and helping them with their collections project. It sounds like an exciting project to help with, and great to be able to assist from the very start to finish with the user research and analytics.

Chris

I’m expecting 2019 to be a really interesting one. We’ve got some great consulting work lined up and we’ll be working for some fantastic institutions in the UK and USA. Our Analytics Baseline service has been getting a really good reaction too, so I’m looking forward to being able to devote more time to that.

And that’s a wrap

Thanks to everyone we worked with in 2018. Have a good Christmas and New Year and here’s to more good stuff in 2019.