I have been the Bartell Theatre Foundation’s webmaster for BartellTheatre.org since January 25th, 2015. Among the top priorities since assuming this responsibility was to ensure that the Bartell Theatre Foundation was able to utilize the data generated by users as they navigate to, within, and from the website. This has allowed the Bartell Theatre Foundation to have insight into how it performs in its web presence. The custom website I developed was designed with this priority in mind and many specific design decisions have led to a remarkable amount of insight.
The research at the time yielded Google Analytics as the platform of choice for collecting this data. After this decision was made, it was simple to apply the provided Google Analytics code into the header.php file that would be served on each page on the website.
Google Analytics was installed and started collecting data on February 21st, 2015.
Having a career in Business Intelligence Consulting has allowed me ready access to some of the best software for visualizing data. I have experience using Tableau Desktop, Microsoft Power BI, Qlikview, and D3.js along with experience being demo-ed several others. As is often the case, Tableau Desktop is the tool I reached for when wanting to express the data from Google Analytics into dashboards that would help the Bartell Theatre Foundation and the Participating Theatre Companies (PTCs) understand the behavior of BartellTheatre.org users.
Due to Google Analytics API limitations to having access only to the most recent ~2 years of data, Tableau Prep was used to union previously pulled Google Analytics data over 2 years ago to the most recent 2 years of Google Analytics data. This helps provide a complete picture of user behavior since the day Google Analytics was implemented.
Stephen Few has defined a dashboard as “a visual display of the most important information needed to achieve one or more objectives; consolidated and arranged on a single screen so the information can be monitored at a glance.” While I generally closely adhere to this definition (especially for my professional work), I wanted to show the data less at a glance and more in an investigatory fashion. This allows users to comb through what they feel is important. It also meant designing something that could answer many questions, even questions that I had not anticipated. And since what I built are not reports, scorecards, and not even Faceted Analytical Displays, I’ve settled on the term Dashboard to describe this assembly of data visualizations.
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These definitions will help those unfamiliar with the Bartell Theatre Foundation understand the rest of this article. These definitions are also written for an audience that may not have a thorough understanding or vocabulary in data concepts. These are written in an order where a later definition may use a word defined earlier in the list.
This is a strictly enforced concept that describes a relationship between two entities where only one object for an entity will relate to only one object of the second entity and vice-versa. For example, the relationship between a person and their Social Security Number is one-to-one (or at least should be). A person may have only one Social Security Number and a Social Security Number may have only one person associated with it.
Each unique publicly available event that is held at the Bartell Theatre is provided its own page on BartellTheatre.org. There is a one-to-one relationship between a unique event and its page on the website. An event may happen multiple times, but in essence is the same event. For example, the Strollers Theatre production of Misalliance is its own unique event that was performed multiple times, but is only a single unique event. Events do not span years. Annually reoccurring events are to be considered unique in the year they are held. For example, the annual Bartell Theatre Awards will be considered multiple events for the number of years it is held. There are fringe cases where this definition is not nuanced enough to describe each event at the Bartell Theatre, in which case the one-to-one relationship between a web page and an event may be the determining factor of an its uniqueness.
Each unique event will have a unique opening night. In other words, there is a one-to-one relationship between an event and its opening night. The opening night is defined as the very first date for which a unique event is held.
The Bartell Theatre Foundation is unique in the nation for its co-op structure. It is was founded by several Madison, Wisconsin theatre companies and continues to run by a group of theatre companies. Those theatre companies tasked with helping run the Bartell Theatre Foundation are called Participating Theatre Companies or PTCs for short.