The way users do things…

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Higher Education, Research, Usability, Web | Posted on 12-14-2007

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I’ve been tracking a recent stat in Analytics that keeps popping it’s ugly head up, so I had to do some research. Here’s the deal. Our admission site is http://go.butler.edu, not http://www.go.butler.edu. Regardless, a lot of end users still feel the need to put a www at the beginning of absolutely everything.

Not a problem, right? Wrong. Looking at the top 2 browsers, people use, 1 of 2 things would happen to them:

1) Internet Explorer — The bad url would direct to a Microsoft search engine that showed http://go.butler.edu as the top result. The user would then click that link, which would report in Analytics that they came to the site via search engine with the string ‘www.go.butler.edu’. Turns out, it was our second most popular search link last month with 101 people doing this.

2) Firefox -Nothing. ‘Server not found’ error would display. User ends up thinking site is down, or worse… “Well, there must not be a site here.”

So let’s look at the numbers.

So if 101 users using IE did this, we can extrapolate the number of browser users to say that approximately 21 Firefox users did this as well (on the other hand, we could also say Firefox users are more tech saavy and would do this less, but let’s just keep it simple.)  Using the math that 101/130 = 77.69%, if there were 130 people to search www.go.butler.edu, 101 of them would be the IE users, and .1646*130 = 21.4 users, with the remaining 8 users using Safari/other browsers.

SO. Here we are with 21 users a month (252 a year) who for sure aren’t getting to the site, and another 1,212 that are having to go the extra step to get to the site, assuming they even want to do that. That brings us to 1,464 potential website viewers who are just not getting straight to the message.

Luckily, this ended up being an easy fix.  We told IT  our problem/suggested solution, and they emailed me back within a week saying that http://www.go.butler.edu would now redirect to http://go.butler.edu.   And we will now have 1,500 more visitors who get straight to the site every year.  Hooray!

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