UND School of Graduate Studies Blog

Happenings at The School of Graduate Studies at the University of North Dakota

Analytics observations #1

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A couple of weeks ago, I posted some data from a complete year of tracking our web site using Google Analytics. Collecting data is easy enough, but knowing how to use that data or determining what it means is another proverbial ballgame. Looking at the raw data such as the total number of pages viewed or the total number of visits can be rather impressive, but there is so much information we can glean from analyzing how people find our website and then, once there, how they use it. Looking at behaviors can drive decisions we make daily on the information we push up front, or the structure of our web site. Taking one example today, for instance, I can make the following assumptions:

Top Content

  1. /dept/grad/
  2. /html/admissionshome.html
  3. /html/programs.html
  4. /dept/grad/html/programs.html
  5. /dept/grad/html/admissionshome.html
  6. /html/landingpage-connect.html
  7. /
  8. /dept/grad/html/forms.html
  9. /dept/grad/html/landingpage-connect.htm
  10. 10.  /html/forms.html

The Content refers to the pages most visited by users of our site. The highest rated here is our homepage at 18.32% with the next four most frequently visited pages directed to the programs we offer and the admissions information for these programs. Of the ten most visited, eight are directly recruitment related – that is to say, providing information for prospective students on our graduate program offerings, admission requirements, and the process for inquiring and applying to the program.

The above “programs” hyperlink example is a significant one. This link on our navigation bar alphabetically lists all of the graduate programs by department. That makes sense. However, the hyperlink bounces away from our site to the department. This means for a visitor to find the appropriate information on our graduate program, that link has to be directed at an “external” link – ie: one which we have no control over and one that we hope is maintained and provides consistent information. We also risk losing their attention once they “bounce” from our site. This becomes a consideration for restructuring the site: change those hyperlinks to go to fact sheet information where we control the information.

Also rating in the top ten pages is that where we hold all of the forms for current students and faculty. These include all of the “business” items like programs of study, scholarships and graduation. Since Forms ranks so highly I am reminded of our internal processes!

To put the top 10 content links in context, Google Analytics has measured 472 pages on our site to date. And just for interest’s sake, the next 10 most frequently visited all relate to prospective students. If I am to base some assumptions on this activity I could argue that the greatest number of users of our website are searching for information designed for prospective students. This could influence HOW we present that information in a website redesign, making it more prominent or comprehensive. Furthermore, I can look at the least visited content and decide what prominence it should have.

Before making any major website structure changes, it will be important to look at the traffic pathways of those most visited pages: As an example, I’ll look at the same “top 10” and determine whether those visits come from direct sources, referred sources or search engines. But that’s next time!

Written by School of Graduate Studies

February 2, 2010 at 8:07 pm

Posted in data analysis

Tagged with , ,

One Response

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  1. […] almost been a year with My GradSpace — a great year, in fact. Traffic through our sites has been fantastic, students are gathering all the information they request and store it in one […]

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