Saturday, 18 September 2010

Analytics, site search & understanding user behaviour

A selection of podcasts and interviews in which experts outline the least you should be doing with your webstats. Also, how understanding and acting on search patterns can significantly improve your site. The final podcast includes a fascinating case study.

These interviews, podcasts and transcripts cover the advice and opinions of some of the foremost people in the fields of information architecture and usability. Some great tips and an awful lot of sense.

An intro for people who aren't sure where to start. Gerry Gaffney interviews Brian Donohoe, covering when, why and how to use web analytics. It's a little old now, but the principles are sound (technology may move on quickly, but user behaviour doesn't) and includes some useful links to other resources.

Web Analytics: an Interview with Brian Donohue - podcast and resource links from Gerry Gaffney (UXPod)

On-site search - some big mistakes to avoid. I'm sometimes a little wary of Jared Spool's approach to search - he considers it the last resort in many cases, believing most people prefer to navigate which doesn't totally ring true for me and my observations of users - but nevertheless, he's done a lot of usability tests and seen a lot of awful search experiences. He's in conversation in this podcast, covering:
  • Why are your users searching your site?
  • What separates the best search experiences from the worst?
  • What can be done to improve search results?
  • How can you tell Search is succeeding on your site?

Usability Tools Podcast: On-Site Search - Jared Spool in conversation for

IA masters interviewed in 2010. Louis Rosenfeld and Peter Morville wrote the book on information architecture - Information Architecture for the World Wide Web - otherwise known as the polar bear book.

Peter Morville talks with Jared Spool, answering listeners questions. He gives examples of typical user behaviours on specific sites, and comments on advanced and faceted searches, amongst other things.

Leveraging Search Patterns and Discovery - Jared Spool in conversation with Peter Morville

Lou Rosenfeld shares how the search terms used on your website can reveal a lot about your users. This conversation with Paul Boag is probably the best of the bunch (assuming you've been using Analytics for a while and the Brian Donohoe stuff is old hat).

Lou Rosenfeld on Search Analytics - interview with Paul Boag; podcast and transcript

And probably the best thing about Lou's interview is when he talks about a site search analytics case study, providing links to a presentation and resources. This is also a plug for John Ferrara's book on site search analytics, but it's absolutely fascinating and I'll be trying this out in the near future.

Case study of site search optimisation: presentation and spreadsheet tool - John Ferrara

Post follow up

Since I wrote this post, Lou Rosenfeld has released an excellent book which builds on John Ferrara's approach. In this post, Lou Rosenfeld discusses the main themes of the book and there are links to free chapters.

Search site analytics - Lou Rosenfeld interviews

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