Version 0.15 October 2012 (working draft)

Intended audience:  research managers and researchers, information managers and professionals

Understanding how a repository and other websites are being used is important to understanding whether they are working for your institution and for end users (wherever they are) in the ways that were intended. By analysing how sites are being used, and how easy they are to use, information will be gained which provides the basis for decision-making. This decision-making may be in matters of detail, such as the structure of the site, or it may be strategic, such as what is the cost-benefit to the institution, or what types of research outputs will deliver maximum impact for stakeholders.

Website analysis has been written about a great deal. There are also many software packages available to provide analysis. The ICT-KM Program of the CGIAR has produced a helpful guide to the whole area which can be accessed here.

The main areas covered by the Guide are: 

1.  The website as part of institutional strategy

What is the website for? Know why you are developing it and what you want from it. Define its’ purpose, is it: information and knowledge sharing; public awareness; branding; PR; resource mobilization – attracting funders; marketing; and so on? For each part of the site think through why it is there, what you will gain from it, and the results you hope to gain from any initiative such as a marketing campaign. 

2.  Measuring usage

From usage analysis you can learn:

  • Is the site working properly?
  • Where are your users coming from?
  • Are the users doing what you want them to do?
  • Is the site easy to navigate?
  • Is your information useful and are users staying to access it?

This information has great value in management decision-making concerning further development of the site. 

3.  Measuring usability

Is it easy to use the website? Does it do what users need it to do? 

4.  Measuring usefulness

This area addresses the interaction between the user and the content. What are they getting out of the site? Is the information of use to the different groups accessing it? This will be at the core of your assessment of whether you are providing content which is of real value to your user groups. The key analytical tool here is testing by user surveys, which is a low cost way of obtaining valuable information.

There is also an introduction to the use of Google Analytics as a tool.