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Storytime: Brexit, Big Ben, and Birmingham

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Analytics, Content design, Open, Social Media

It's month two of our commitment to using words to talk about our numbers. February, despite being a short month, brought with it some successes we'd like to share. As always, comment below or chat with me on Twitter. All opinions welcome.

Let's start with blogging

As we get into our stride with a dedicated Blog Editor and some changes to our quality assurance processes, it's good to see that the PDS blog continues to grow its audience.


Visits were up by 65% on last month, and we published 14 posts, 4 more than in January. Visits to the blog homepage increased by 28%, and the jobs page by a rather impressive 192%.

There's still lots more to do.

Real life stories

Photograph of a page of a book with all words blurred out except the words 'real life'
Licence: Creative Commons Attribution Krystian Olszanski

We're continuing to balance between project updates and human stories. And it's human stories that are proving most popular.

Tori Baker spoke candidly about the importance of openness and diversity. Nik Spicer told her story about being part-Product Lead, part-Play-Doh Lead.

Our audience responded with plenty of retweets, positive comments, and encouragement. That's great to see.

All things social


We've been experimenting with our social cover images recently. We spent some time designing one ourselves in January, but it didn't go down particularly well. People didn't like the colour choices and some said it was hard to understand what it had to do with Parliament.

So, we did some research and found that comparable accounts tend to favour photos over graphic. This is the approach that we're taking to.

Traffic from social platforms to have significantly increased. Referrals from Twitter have increased by 87%. Facebook by 33%.

Also in our social world, we're happy to say that 3 out of the top 4 Instagram posts for us in February were user generated content. We're planning to work with followers to produce future cover images.

Brexit brings all the boys to the yard


Our recent blog post about Brexit proved popular, but the interest doesn't stop there. Onsite searches for Brexit information has increased, and the pages we've recently been working on have seen an increase in traffic of just over 25%. Also, bounce rate has dropped by just under 20%.

Not too shabby.

Meet the Lords

CYP delegates and representatives of Commonwealth Diaspora communities in the UK debated in the House of Lords Chamber, with Rt Hon. Baroness D’Souza CMG, the Lord Speaker, sitting on the Woolsack. Commonwealth Youth Parliament 2011 Commonwealth Parliamentary Association UK Branch This image is subject to parliamentary copyright

Visits to the House of Lords section of the website increased by over 80% in February. It's encouraging to see that readership is growing. As a content team we'll continue to work on how we can help further improve those pages.

Oh, and the new series on BBC all about the inner workings of the House of Lords started this week. You can find out more and watch it again on BBC iPlayer.

Bye bye for now, Ben

During the week of 18 August Parliament’s Great Clock, also known as Big Ben, underwent essential maintenance. Further information on the cleaning of the Clock can be found at Image: UK Parliament/Stephen Pike This image is subject to parliamentary copyright.

Since the Elizabeth Tower closed its doors, it seems our beloved Big Ben has had a fall in popularity. Visits to the Big Ben pages are down by 20%. If you want to show Ben that you still love him, pop along to the Parliament shop and browse all manner of handsome Big Ben-related items.

Parliament on your high street

Wide shot of the inside of Birmingham New Street Station. People and shops are visible, and in the middle left of the image you can make out the Commons green bench that tours the country promoting the work of parliament.

Parliament developed the Birmingham #onyourhighstreet campaign to engage with new audiences by physically sending Parliament teams to Birmingham. It seemed like a good idea to mirror this by doing the same digitally.

We put £50 behind 4 facebook posts promoting various events across the week. All posts targeted to the Birmingham area.


  • 99,500 people reached
  • 2086 post likes
  • 412 link clicks
  • generated 122 new page likes for UK Parliament
  • 78 comments and 108 shares

We certainly reached and engaged with new users and developed our UK presence. It's worth noting that the Boston/Brexit post promotion generated more comments than the 4 Birmingham posts combined. There's more digital interaction and engagement when you give people something meaty to talk alongside promoting an event.

We'd love to know if these posts are of interest, what you'd like to see more of, and what you'd like us to do better. Comment below or talk to me on Twitter.

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  1. Comment by Hugh Glaser posted on

    Nice blog.
    Just a comment about putting numbers in the words talking about the numbers!
    All your web traffic is in percentages. I think we have all learnt to be wary of percentages, if they don't show the underlying value too. I always ask "it may be a big percentage, but is it a big number?"
    So maybe you should do something like put the numbers in parentheses after some of your percentages?

    • Replies to Hugh Glaser>

      Comment by Louise Duffy posted on

      Hi Hugh,

      Thanks for your comment - very true! We'll definitely take this in to account for our future updates.

      Best wishes,