No Snow Days for the Digital Branch

So – who uses your website? Are they your “regulars” – those customers you see in the building every day? Or are they people you don’t normally see?

Ask that with no data behind it, and I’m sure you’ll get a variety of responses. But add in a bit of data, and it gets interesting.

For example, the above graphic is from my library’s Google analytics info – it’s showing the number of website visits we received in February. And it shows a normal arc of use – those dips you see are Friday – Sunday. Nothing looks out-of-the ordinary.

But guess what? We were closed one of those days because of snow. Can you guess which one from the graph? Probably not – it was the far left dot – Tuesday, February 1.

We had 1714 website visits that day. It was actually the website’s busiest Tuesday in February. On a snow day.

So what’s that mean? Hard to say, really – but here are some thoughts [update – just added/edited some points]:

  • your website users and your in the building users are two different user groups.
  • Customers inside our building aren’t our primary catalog users. Which makes sense – inside the building, customers can browse the shelves (on Feb 1, we had 793 visits to the catalog – 587 were referrals from our main website).
  • Perhaps we need to actually promote our catalog and our website … inside our building???
  • Said another way – Your primary website users are your online customers.
  • How are you supporting those online customers?

One thing it does show – there are no snow days for the digital branch. Your customers are visiting you, and using your primary services … whether you are open or closed.

How are you reaching out to, and supporting, those customers?

  • Anonymous

    Far left dot seems to be one of the highest. I wonder what the psychology of that is? Are people browsing for books because they are bored and not going anywhere on a snow day, and if you looked, you’d find that many browsed books were then checked out over the following non-snow days?

  • Lysistratagirl

    Or those snow day stats could be both staff and customers checking the website, sometimes repeatedly, waiting for the closing announcement to be posted and then checking back to see if the library would be open the next day?

  • Andromeda

    “your website users and your in the building users are two different user groups.”

    I don’t follow the logic here.

  • davidleeking

    You’d do different things to attract the different groups. Ex – catalog an search are more useful to your outside customers, so quick helpguides, easy access, etc is important.

    Inside the library, people are checking stuff out, but aren’t necessarily using the catalog – they’re browsing (or using your PCs and not your books). So you’d Set up your shelving differently, maybe don’t need too many catalog PCs, etc.

    Do different stuff for different user groups.

  • Andromeda

    Ah. Yes, that I get. I thought you were concluding from the data above that the groups consisted of different people, and I couldn’t see how you could draw that conclusion.

  • Martin

    An alternative explanation: Your in the building users are hitting the website harder on the snow days because they can’t get to the physical builidng? Hence the abnormally high spike. It’s not necessarily that they are different users. I do agree, however, that most users don’t look at the website or the catalogue as much while in the building as they do when accessing the digital library. Just not that they are necessarily a different audience.