Web Analytics for HelpDesks and Trainers

If some of you have been wondering if I have perhaps dropped off the face of the earth, wonder no more.  Between parenting responsibilities and accepting a new position within the my university, I have had my hands full.  But now that the dust has settled, I am finally able to get back on track and work on some thing that I really love to do.

One such thing is getting on my soapbox and preaching good documentation and training materials.  I’ll be presenting a session on this topic this week at Penn State’s Network of Trainers Summer Event and a “Talk Documentation to Me” poster on it at High Ed Web. (If you happen to provide user support or training at your university, you’ll want to check it out.)

Web Analytics is a part of what I talk about when I take my documentation talk on the road, and here are some of the metrics helpdesks and trainers may find useful…

  1. Visitors & Pageviews are only noteworthy when you look at trends over time.  Are there peak times of the year (eg. start/end of a semester, upgrades of CMS and LMS, after marketing helpdesk and training services, etc.) when these numbers are higher?
  2. Top Content/Content by Title will show you the topics being accessed the most.  Maybe some of these topics should be used in training sessions.  Maybe these are the topics you start with when doing a major update of your documentation.
  3. Top Landing Pages will show which pages are being used to access your content. Users don’t just access a site from the home page; what other pages to they use as gateways to your documentation and training materials?
  4. Referring Sites show who is sending visitors to your documentation and/or to evaluate how well you have marketed them.  Do you get increased traffic when you post links to Facebook or Twitter?  Are there other sites on campus that link to your information? How can you work with the departments whose sites link to yours?
  5. Keywords tell you what language your visitors use to search for documentation.  You can use keywords to refine your titles and headings so that user can find what they want.
  6. Advanced Segments allow you to filter for specific questions like “What content do people with specific browsers or devices access?”.

…And remember: Web Analytics give you quantitative data.  HelpDesk calls, user comments, and focus groups give you detailed qualitative data.  To get the whole picture of what’s going on, use both.