Web Services

The effectiveness of research | Web services blog

We have put website search at the heart of the project to replace the website, as mentioned in our blog post “Searching, looking for content”.

A key goal we wanted to achieve from any search system was to allow people to get the correct information faster without getting tired and leaving the site. The question is: have we achieved it?

If we compare January-April over the past four years, we can see that for 2021, when the new search tool was the default, more people search, perform fewer searches per visit, and fewer exit search without clicking on a result .

This indicates that the new search tool is more effective at presenting the correct results and that people use the search more because they trust the results.

Visits Searches Look for exits Searches by visit % Search Exits (Search Exits/Visits)
2018 (January-April) 139,593 317.020 30.017 2.27 21.45%
2019 (January-April) 135,360 312,588 31,824 2.31 23.51%
2020 (January-April) 134,790 297.110 32.151 2.20 23.85%
2021 (January-April) 141,890 276,559 24,438 1.95 17%
Research analysis from 2018 to 2021

So early indications are that the work we’ve completed so far benefits our users and gets them the information they need quickly.

Our legacy search tool is updated once a day, while our new search tool updates within minutes of creating new content, so users also get more real-time results as the website is constantly changing during a normal working day.

When you use search on the new website, you’ll be looking for structured, filterable content that allows you to query the results to better find what you’re looking for.

For example, if you were looking for a course, you can select Course, Course Level (eg Degree) and Available Start Dates from the filter options.

Update 2023

Visits Searches Look for exits Searches by visit % Search Exits (Search Exits/Visits)
2021 464,174 895,784 79,991 1.93 17%
2022 489,556 814.060 86,505 1.66 17%
2023 (January – March) 123,936 181.340 21.088 1.46 17%
Research analysis from 2021 to 2022 and from the first quarter of 2023

For the last six months of 2022, we’ve been working with our hosting partner, Acquia, to improve search. We can see that people search less per visit, which indicates that the results are more relevant.