RISE search interface
April was the month that saw a lot of the technical developments come together. The RISE search interface went ‘live’ at http://library.open.ac.uk/rise/ in the middle of the month just before Easter. We’ve managed to pick a fairly quiet time of year to launch it, but that’s the way things go with a short project, you can’t always pick the best time of year to launch. But since the launch we’ve already had over 300 page views and 95 unique visitors.
RISE and Google Analytics tracking
We are using Google Analytics to track use of the search tool. By using a Custom dimension we are able to track how many times each type of recommendation is being used as you can see from the screenshot below.
The three types of recommendation we are making (relationship, course and search) are all identified separately. Analytics tells us how many times each are being clicked on and also gives you the ability to be able to segment the results with different options. So, for example, you can see how the behaviour of new and returning visitors differs.
We have also setup Google Analytics so we can see which recommendations are chosen by users from the list. See the screenshot below. Unsurprisingly the top recommendation is the most commonly used for course and relationship recommendations. But for search, the second recommendation is most commonly used. We’ll be doing some detailed analysis of what analytics tells us about the behaviour of users of the recommendations later in the project.
RISE Google Gadget
We’ve also completed the creation of our RISE Google Gadget. This is a slightly cut-down version of the main RISE interface to fit into a gadget-size but it includes most of the key features, as you can see from the screenshot below. In the main we have simply reduced the number of recommendations and search results that are shown to users. So users will see five search results rather than ten for example.
There’s an abbreviated results description so you just see the first part of the search results title and we will be interested to see how much of a disadvantage that might be. When we tested the full interface with library staff initially we had some feedback about what information beyond the title they thought it would be useful to see.
We have also dropped the ability to rate recommendations from the gadget as it was tricky to develop and likely not to be very intuitive to use.
The gadget is currently being tested with library staff and will be made available for wider use very soon.
Evaluation and testing
Now the developments have been completed we are working more on the evaluation and testing stage. Our research with students has been approved by the appropriate panel and we’re expecting to be able to start contacting people for our evaluation shortly.