With the new website being live for 4 weeks now is the ideal opportunity to dig into the stats to see how things are going. Given the cyclical nature of university recruitment we have compared analytics data for the first weeks of the website going live to the same period last year.
Here’s what we found…
Taking on an entire website rebuild was an ambitious target, but it gave us the opportunity to wipe the slate clean. Following the extensive research and discovery phase, we built a new structure focused around user needs. Mapping content into this structure enabled us to identify a large amount of redundant outdated content that could be archived.
The early indications on this approach are promising…
The number of unique page views have increased by 12.5%. This comes despite the new website having under half the number of pages as the old website. In addition, there has been a reduction in bounce rate of 25% and marginal improvements in the time users are spending on the site.
Mobile traffic continues to grow. Last year in the same period 53% of visitors were on desktop with 39% on mobile. We’ve seen this change to 47% on desktop and 46% on mobile. Add in the traffic on tablets and we can see more of our users are accessing the site on handheld devices than desktops.
A key part of the project was implementing a new search solution; Funnelback. Since launch the use of search across the website is up 51%. Looking at the graph below there is an initial spike, which is to be expected with a completely new site, however this has settled down and is now generally tracking above the curve.
Part of this could be down to improving the visibility of search.
During research it was identified that the core aim for users visiting the website is to a find a course. With this in mind course search occupies the primary real estate on the homepage. There are also separate landing pages for a central, undergraduate and postgraduate course search within the website structure. Bounce rate on search result pages is also down by 15% which indicates that the results being returned are more relevant for users.
Looking at the undergraduate landing page, unique page views are up 45%, but bounce rate has increased from 13% to 23%. Although, as a general rule of thumb, this is still low it is moving in the wrong direction. The story for the postgraduate landing page is very similar.
Digging into heatmaps we’ve had running shows us where users are interacting in the page. Course and subject links have proved to be the most popular across all devices, as shown below in an example segment of one of the maps.
Across the board the aim is to provide easily navigable content based on what the user wants. We’ll digest these results and look into what tweaks to the content we can make and test over the coming weeks.
More research and more testing!
There have been some promising initial indications but we won’t be resting on our laurels. The stats overwhelmingly reinforce the opinion that course and subject is key for the majority of users on our website. We want to explore the behaviour on course and subject pages to see what users are doing, what kind of content they are engaging with and what they are trying to do. The more we understand that, the better we can help them to get there.
The website has a number of different audiences which reflect in the University’s plans for growth in areas such as online, B2B and research. We’ll be looking into the type of content users in these audiences are looking for. When we have an improved knowledge of this we can plan a new structure and content for these areas.