Leeds University Library

Library website survey: results

Published Tuesday 6 December 2016

a hand writing in a notebook, next to a mouse and laptop computer

Summary of findings from the website survey in October 2016

The Library website survey ran from 20 September to 30 October, to inform the Library website project. This project will create a new mobile-responsive website for the Library. This involves changing the technology that runs the website and a complete review of content and navigation.

We received 932 responses in total. The majority of replies were from taught students (88%), with 6.5% from staff and 5% from research postgraduates. Most respondents (57%) used the website several times a week.

The key message we are taking away from the survey to feed into the new website project is "Don't break it!", as much of what we are doing works for users.

However, that isn't an excuse for us to rest on our laurels! Many respondents wanted us to update the look and feel of the site, and focus on improving navigation and content discovery. This is what we will be working on over the coming months.

So what else have we learned from the survey? A summary of the results is below.

You want to search

When we look at the type and frequency of activity on the site, the overwhelming majority of respondents across all user groups are looking for resources. This is typically using Search@Library to find books and articles. This is not a surprising result as it is a core business of the Library.

A lot of respondents were concerned about the availability of resources and how Search@Library functions. Although these comments are outside the scope of the website project, they will be useful to inform future development of Search@Library.

You prefer laptops, but mobile use is growing

The results showed that most respondents rely on laptops and desktop computers to access the library website. Taught and research students preferred to use laptops, whereas desktop was the first choice for staff.

This may be because the in-depth research activity that the library supports is better done on a larger screen or with a keyboard. For example, literature searching, locating resources such as journal articles, reading material and writing notes.

However, mobile use of the site is still significant:

  • 69% of taught students said they use a phone to access the website
  • 15% of taught students chose mobile as their first choice of device
  • 30% of taught students put mobile as their second choice

The site analytics confirm this result, showing a steady increase in mobile use.

Some Library website activity is highly task-based and well suited to mobile. For example locating a book on a shelf might be easier on a mobile phone that can be carried around the library until the shelf is found. Our Library mobile survey is designed to examine this area more fully.

Tablet devices aren't favoured by respondents, with high proportions not using tablets at all to access the library site.

Most popular pages

After Search@Library, the most used pages were referencing and Skills@Library resources and workshop bookings.

Taught students made up the majority of respondents. These results reflect their needs: to find resources, learn how to reference and develop academic skills. But these pages were also frequently used by PhD students.

Finding particular items (specific books and journal articles), checking opening hours, looking up subject resources and doing wider research were also reported as frequent tasks carried out on the site.

Don't break it

The large majority of respondents (82%) found what they were looking for the last time they visited the website. 87% thought that there was nothing missing.

Respondents also reported a "good" level of satisfaction across the different aspects of the site: design, ease of use, speed, quality and depth. The overall rating of the site was 19% Very good, 65% Good, 15% Average, with just 1% thinking it was Poor or Very Poor.

What should we improve?

The free text responses to: "Is there anything missing from the Library website?" and "What would improve the Library website for you?" contained some great suggestions for library service developments.

Many respondents requested an easy way of knowing how many seats are available in library buildings. Also, to make room booking information much easier to find. The latter we should certainly be able to tackle with the new website, the former may be a more difficult nut to crack, but we'll certainly consider it outside the website project.

Some comments referred to things we already supply, for example, having better maps of the library and information on where to find books. We have worked hard to create interactive maps of the library and these are currently available on the website. So, this tells us we need to publicise them better and/or that we need to find out if they are meeting all our customers' needs.

The main area for improvement from the free text responses was improving and modernising the design or look and feel of the site (166 comments). This was strongest for undergraduates and taught postgraduates, but was less of a priority for researchers and staff. Improving general navigation and finding content was the next area (123 comments).

Making the website more mobile friendly was mentioned in 31 comments and improving the speed of the site in 43 comments. Our website project will tackle both of these.

Want to get involved?

If you've read this far, you must be pretty interested in the website! So, would you like to get involved in our user testing panel?

Email library-web@leeds.ac.uk with your name and email address.

You'll receive brief project updates every month or so, as well as invites to the user testing we're doing to make the new site as good as we can for all our customers.