Library Analytics (Part 5)

Another day, another Library Analytics post… Today, a quick glimpse at another popular content area on the OU Library website, the “Subject Resource Collections” that dangle off http://library.open.ac.uk/find/eresources/.

Most Popular Subject Resource Collections
The distribution of visits to subject resource collections is pretty flat, as the following report shows:

That said, the most popular categories are:

  1. the law/law collection:

  2. the Law_legislation page:

  3. the Psychology collection;
  4. the Education collection;
  5. the Science – General collection.

Thinking back to the previous post in this series, and the example of using Many Eyes to visualise multiple data dimensions at the same time, a similar technique might be useful here just to check that each resource is attracting similar usage stats in respect of time on site, average pages per visit, bounce rates, etc.?

Just by the by, if we look at the Entrance Source for traffic that ends up on the selector page for Psychology eresources, we can see that most of the traffic is coming in from the VLE.

The College of Law appears to be providing most of the Law/Law traffic though…

Going forwards, it would probably be useful for the collections whose traffic sourced from the VLE to try to identify which courses were providing that traffic. This information might then provide the basis for “KPIs” relating to the performance of particular Library resources on a particular course.

Onsite Search Behavior
One of the optional reports on Google Analytics (that is, one that needs to be enabled) is tracking of onsite search behaviour using the website’s own search tool. Popular search terms identified by this report may well indicate failures in support for navigation-through-browsing – in the case of the OU Library site, it seems that information about “Athens” isn’t the easiest thing to find just by clicking…

The following report is particularly interesting from a trends point of view:

The step change at the end of March, with the higher incidence of internal search terms prior to then, suggests a change in user behaviour (given that all the other reports have been showing pretty steady traffic numbers over the whole period). I’m guessing – and this is checkable – that there was a Library website redesign at the end of March, although step changes (particularly in the case of users segmented by course, if such a thing were possible) might also be indicative of participation in scheduled Library related activities within a course in presentation. I’ll try to post a bit more about that at a later date…)

Another informative report describes the proportion of visits in which the user engages in onsite search. Users tend to navigate websites either by browsing (clicking on links) or by search. A high incidence of serch may indicate weaknesses in navigation design via clickable links. So how does the Library website appear do?

Well – it seems that users are clicking their way to pages rather than searching for them… (though this may in turn reflect issues with discovery and design of the search page…!)

The Help Page
Another source of information about how well the site is working for visitors is to look at usage around the Help page. I’m not going to go into this page in any depth, but here’s an inkling of what sorts of information we might be able to extract from it…

Who’s looking at how to cite a reference?

Seems like Google traffic is high up here? So maybe another role for the Library website is outreach, in the sense of informal education? And maybe the “How to cite a reference” page would be a good place to place a link to the free Safari info skills minicourse, and an ad for TU120 Beyond Google? ;-)

Author: Tony Hirst

I'm a Senior Lecturer at The Open University, with an interest in #opendata policy and practice, as well as general web tinkering...

One thought on “Library Analytics (Part 5)”

  1. Hi

    Regarding Subject pages, your results are similar to ours at Sussex

    The following is for the academic year 07/08.

    26989 http://www.sussex.ac.uk/library/subjects/law.php
    6711 http://www.sussex.ac.uk/library/subjects/psychology.php
    2457 http://www.sussex.ac.uk/library/subjects/english.php
    2236 http://www.sussex.ac.uk/library/subjects/socialwork.php
    2101 http://www.sussex.ac.uk/library/subjects/anthropology.php
    2053 http://www.sussex.ac.uk/library/subjects/biology.php
    1827 http://www.sussex.ac.uk/library/subjects/sociology.php
    1820 http://www.sussex.ac.uk/library/subjects/philosophy.php
    1814 http://www.sussex.ac.uk/library/subjects/education.php

    Law is always way ahead and psychology is a clear second. Though nothing hugely shocking.

    We use ‘google university search’ for our library search engine. This used to provide nice daily reports of popular search terms. Recently it no longer seems to show these (various error messages, no replys to my emails asking about this, but then is a free service). Certainly ILR/ILL interlibrary requests were popular search terms and the influenced me in trying to make ILR easier to find.

    Also noticed many people trying to search for books/journals, I stuck an ugly message on the search results warning people that it was not a catalogue search (and pointed them in the right direction), but was also aware of reading to much in to this and over reacting to it!

    Regards
    Chris

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