Assessment Initiative: Investigate Website Usage Patterns

Project Leads: Dan Benedetti & Brendan DeRoo

Introduction

The Libraries’ Assessment Committee has added Google Analytics to investigate the use of key web pages on the libraries’ websites.  This helps the Assessment Committee develop a better understanding about user behavior so that specific improvements can be recommended to create a better discovery and delivery experience. Tracking user behavior can lead to continual improvements to the libraries’ websites for users.

Google Analytics is used most effectively when answering questions such as: What are users looking for? How can we help them arrive at it more easily? The Assessment Committee will develop targeted questions, align questions to data, and interpret the data.

Purpose

The purpose of this initiative is to improve the Libraries’ websites based on data collected by Google Analytics. These improvements will be based on usage patterns. Comments on the 2012 Graduate Student Library Survey showed that many users are not aware of the vast resources the libraries offer. The Committee intends to look for use patterns that might suggest better navigation or organization that could promote discovery and use of eresources. Finally, the Committee will look for relevant usage patterns that could be used to improve collection development.

Results

The project will result in a written report for the Web Committee about usage patterns. The report will include recommendations for possible changes in navigation and organization. Whether or not the recommended changes are implemented, the leaders will continue to track the data, developing new questions as necessary and providing occasional reports to the Web Committee on findings.

Timeline

Winter, 2015

  • Identify specific questions to answer such as:

    • Can we track external links and usage of Search through Google Analytics?

    • Are there links that aren’t used on the home page?

    • How (and how often) are students using research guides and tools?

    • What do search terms and traffic patterns indicate about which resources students are using most frequently?

    • How efficient are the menus throughout the site?

  • Identify broader questions to answer, such as:

    • Does the site anticipate what users are looking for?

    • Are users finding key resources and services?

    • Are users finding resources easily and quickly or only after many clicks

In Spring, 2015

  • Set up reports to answer the questions developed by the Assessment Committee.

  • Identify several paths and set up goals to track. Possibilities include:

    • Track how often course reserves forms are accessed, which could help identify peak usage times.

    • Track which bibliography management systems are accessed most frequently, which could lead to the posting of one or more direct links on the home page.

    • Track outgoing links on the Libraries’ databases page. This would identify the most heavily used databases.

  • Observe for a semester or some reasonable length of time period.

Outcomes

Improvements to the Libraries’ websites based on usage patterns.