Today I gave a talk to HighEdWeb about Analyzing Real-time Visitor Searches. It served as an insight into how we use data to drive design decisions. Many of the changes to wayne.edu are driven directly from what we learn from analyzing user searches. The audio should be up soon and I plan to add it to the slideshow.
Higher education websites always have a steady supply of visitors. It’s great to see the numbers in Google Analyics fluctuate each day and trend upwards over time, but are your visitors finding what they came for? This talk is a high-level-to-in-depth look at tracking what visitors are searching for in real time from your site. We’ll go beyond the consolidated “popular keywords” list to an actual trend list with grouped phases and pages. The goal is peer into the visitor’s mind and figure out why they are searching for “address” on the Contact Us page or “Professor Smith” on the Faculty Information page. Higher education websites always struggle to accommodate two audiences, internal and external. Search results based on location don’t lie, it’s easy to combine real internal searches with reasons why quicklinks and extra menus may or may not be functioning as optimally as they should. It’s time to go beyond pageviews and user paths and look at real-time search analytics.
Associate Director of Web Communications, Wayne State University
Nick DeNardis is the Associate Director of Web Communications at Wayne State University. As host of the video blog, EDU Checkup, he reviews higher education websites from the point of view of a first-time visitor, while critiquing the design, information architecture and code of the sites. He is a staff writer at .eduGuru, a higher education marketing and Web development blog. He takes an active role in the higher education Web community by sharing his thoughts and real-world analysis in the Wayne State Web Communications Blog. He is also an officer for Refresh Detroit, a group of Web professionals whose goal is to promote Web standards, usability, and accessibility.