Closing the loop: the importance of enquiry analysis
To have a successful digital service, we need to continuously close the loop between what our users need and what we’re actually publishing. Enquiry analysis can help us do that.
Designing for user needs
Web content should never be static. It needs to grow and develop to meet user needs as they change over time.
The ethos of content design is to publish content that users genuinely need, in the best way possible for them to consume it. But how do we do that? First we need to understand what our users need, then design content based on the evidence of those needs.
At a minimum, we need to know:
- who they are
- why they’re coming to our website
- what tasks they’re trying to complete
To gather that evidence we need user research.
There are many types of user research, some of which require the help of a specialist. But even if you don’t have the luxury of a research specialist, there are still lots of ways to gather insight on your users.
Enquiry analysis is one of the simplest forms of user research, and you don’t have to be an expert to do it.
You can quickly find out what users need, and how your content is performing against those needs, with some basic data analysis. If you then make content changes based on that insight, you’re doing it – you’re closing the loop.
But you have to do it regularly. Rolling out continuous improvements is what keeps your content alive and ensures that it’s genuinely useful.
Gathering enquiry data
The easiest way to gather enquiry data is to set up an online contact form in EdWeb. This was one of the first things I did when managing our Covid-19 content for prospective students.
It was the quickest way to find out:
- who was looking at our content
- what they wanted to know
- what we weren’t delivering
Once the form was set up, all of the enquiry data was automatically captured by EdWeb.
Data can be accessed via the Webform > Results option in editing mode. It can then be downloaded into Excel, across any date range, when you’re ready to analyse it. If you haven’t set up an EdWeb form before, you can find guidance on the EdWeb Support wiki.
Analysing enquiry data
I set up the Covid-19 form to categorise enquiries by:
- audience type
- application status
- country of residence
- study level and mode
This allowed me to gather data that could be quickly segmented by one or more of those categories. With the use of a few basic queries, I was able to analyse the data to find out who our main audiences were and what they wanted to know.
It’s important to be strategic when analysing your data.
You can’t design content for every single enquiry that comes through. Instead, try to look for trends in the data and let those guide you towards the overarching user needs. Find out what you can publish on your site to help the majority of users to self-serve rather than hit the ‘contact us’ button.
Building a backlog
By analysing the Covid-19 enquiry data on a regular cycle, I was able to quickly build a backlog of user needs that our content designers could begin to tackle. I set this up in Monday.com, our project management software, allowing us to provide a transparent view of what we were working on.
Closing the loop
Working with subject matter experts (SMEs) across the University, we’ve been able to improve existing pages and quickly develop new content, to meet those user needs. We’re closing that loop!
By designing content that’s easy to find and understand, we’re also encouraging users to self-serve, and reducing the number of enquiries coming in.
It takes a bit of time to analyse data, but it’s time well spent. It’s far better to invest your effort in enquiry analysis, than to waste your effort creating content that nobody needs.
Getting in touch
If you want to chat about our Covid-19 enquiry analysis, please get in touch.