Redesigning any website is a disruptive process and the last thing we want to do is make it harder to find what you are looking for on the library website. One of the first things we looked at when decidding what should get prime real estate on the homepage was what people use alot and what they were searching for on our site.
We looked at website traffic for an entire year (June 1, 2016 - June 1, 2017) to capture the different busy periods thoughout the year.
There were roughly 1,600,000 visits to the library website last year. Many of those visits began on the library homepage (around 760,000), but it is interesting to note what else people are seeking out on the website.
- The ejournals search is one of the top pages with 256,000 pageviews in the last year. Making sure this search was quick and easy to find went to the top of our list of "must-dos" for the website.
- Student Learning Services, home of writing, math, and study skills help, the PAL Peer Mentors program, and campus Learning Communities is also extremely popular with over 81,000 views.
- Four of our branch library pages also made up the top ten: Health Sciences (66,000 views), University Archives & Special Collections (42,300), the Murray library (30,800), the Law library (22,700), and the Education and Music library (20,300).
- The Find It / Get It page that directs library users to search tools, collections, policies, and services like interlibrary loans and course reserves was also popular with 21,000 visits last year.
What about things our site does not do well (yet)? To identify things that people are looking for but struggling to find in the navigation, we also looked at the search terms people are using on our site. Many of the top search terms were for specific databases or journals (Science Direct, Nature, The Lancet, and PubMed were all in the top ten search terms for the past year), but there were also a few surprises.
Pharmacy was the top search term in our site search (separate from USearch and the catalogue search boxes), and the iPortal and Emergency Medicine were also frequent searches.
In USearch, databases and journals were again some of the top searches along with research topics and citation searches. I was pleased to see that the search terms entered in this box were almost exclusively for items in our collection and not pages on the website. This indicates that library users understand what this box searches and are using it successfully.
Putting together all of this information, I see a few patterns:
- The popularity of these pages leads me to believe that people who use our website are frequently using our search tools and the ejournals search is important
- Website users are looking for student learning information and we should make sure all of the services they provide are clear and easy to understand.
- Users do visit the individual branch library pages. Some have more traffic than others which could be a reflection of the size of the college they serve, although the popularity of the Law website show that a website geared to the needs of it's user community is valued.
- The iPortal was difficult to find - this has recently been added back to the old site main navigation and it will be easier to find on the new site as well.
- In addition to ejournals, our library users are looking for databases - perhaps a search tool for databases would be as popular as the ejournals search?
All of these numbers give us a place to start thinking about what should be on the homepage and in the main navigation to meet the needs of our library users. Of course, current numbers only tell part of the story. Check back for the next step of the design process where we talk to Library staff and faculty to find out what they see library users struggling with on our website and what their pet peeves are about the current design.