Monday, January 21, 2013

Removing Library Jargon from our Home page - what Google Analytics tells us

In January I tend to catch up on all my statistics collection for the last year - and if I can, do some cursory analysis.

I've been using Google Analytics Campaigns to track the use of links on the Library's home page - which was  revamped around this time last year after usability testing with students.

After finally biting the 'less library jargon' bullet. Here are some of the changes we made and the differences in clicks between 2011 and 2012.
The Catalogue and the more meaningless Tropicat were replaced by Books, DVDs & more.
Hits up 10%
Bounce rate steady
 Reserve Online replaced by Readings & Past Exams.
Hits up 100%
Bounce rate down 25%
Databases replaced by Journal Articles
Hits up 90%
Bounce rate down 60% (but meaningless as most links are to external sites in the old target page)

Interestingly in the case of Databases we restored some button navigation labelled Databases at the request of some academic staff. Hits about a third of  the number of the Journal Articles link. Overall use of our static listing of databases has dropped around 5%. Rather than go straight to the A-Z listing of databases the new link lists a number or resources and tips (including the A-Z).

The focus of this phase of review/redesign was very much on undergraduates, particularly first year.

Our user testing showed confusion about article searching with significant numbers going to the eJournal portal (an A-Z listing from Serials Solutions) browsing for a likely journal title, then browsing the issues for a relevant article.

Reserve Online had users thinking it was about reserving books, and students didn't draw the link between video materials and our catalogue.

Our corporate CMS template forces us into four columns - previously the column header for these links was 'Finding Resources' - which we trimmed to 'Find' which gave some added context to the link names and hopefully amplified our goal-based approach.

Overall the bounce rate for all home page links dropped 21%, a fair indication that users are having more success in finding what they are looking for when selecting a link.

We also have a Summon search box as the default centrepiece of our home page, its use continues to grow strongly.

2 comments:

Cecily Walker said...

What a great idea. Would you be willing to share the variables and values you used to track this information?

Alan @JCU Library said...

Hi Cecily

I don't know how familiar you are with Google Analytics - but with the Campaigns function you add a suffix to each link that contains information on the source of the link (home page in our case), the medium (link or button) and the target (or campaign) - Google even provide a tool to help you build the URLs

Google analytics allows you to examine this data via the standard dashboard.

If you have already set up your site to use GA, this is very simple way of identifying what path people are following to get to certain services/resources - we've begun using it Library blogs, university orientation week materials and listserv emails - to try and get a handle on what works.