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User Experience Tools for Beginners

A guide to help you find the right tools for the right situation

web analytics

Typically web analytics tools tell you the following for each page of your site.

  • how many users
  • how they are finding your website
  • how long they stay on a page
  • what they are searching while there
  • users' operating systems

How to use Web Analytics

Google Analytics is a free and easy to set up option for gathering web analytics about your site.  It also has the added bonus of having a large number of users; so online help is easy to find.  To set up

  1. Register for an account.
  2. Embed the tracking code on your site.

Then you simply sign into your account to view the data.

Features

  • Tag Manager allows you to track users across domains, such as from your website to your LibGuides
  • Campaign lets you create unique URLs in order to see when people are following links from direct emails, online marketing campaigns, classes in your LMS, or wherever.

Other Options

There are many other options out there.  Take a look at this Inc. article on the 11 Best Web Analytics Tools.

Analyzing and Using the Data

It can difficult to figure out what to do with the information.  Here is some food for thought about the data collected.

  • Bounce Rates (how long a user stays on a page) may not be so important on library web sites, because many of them are designed to get users off the page and into the resources they need (databases, subscriptions, etc.).
     
  • However, bounce rates can point to problematic pages.  Unfortunately the data can't show you what the problem is.  For that you'll need to employ some of the other user experience tools.
     
  • Delving into the (often circuitous) paths people take through your site can be very interesting, albeit time consuming, and show you where you have dead end pages.
     
  • Watch out for referral spam! If strange URLs are showing up as traffic sources, they might skew your data.