New feedback form for our research guides

Research guides are the primary finding aids that we produce for Discovery, our catalogue. There are over 350 of them, covering a diverse range of subjects; they contain useful tools such as subject-specific search filters, lists of relevant terminology, and examples of what the documents look like. They’re heavily used by both the public (25% of users who visit our website look at a research guide) and our record specialists, who resolve large numbers of enquiries by directing users to the guidance they need.

In the digital team, we’re interested in finding out if there are improvements we can make to help users locate assistance in research guides before they are obliged to contact us via phone, email or web chat (or abandon their journey). We have stats about which guides are viewed, but we currently have no means of gathering qualitative feedback at scale about whether or not users have located what they were looking for.


A gif showing the research guide widgetWe’ve been working on a way to collect this qualitative data by creating a feedback widget, which now sits on every research guide page. This widget allows you to quickly and anonymously let us know whether you found the help you needed.

It’s a quicker way for users to send us feedback while they’re using the research guides – as opposed to filling in a survey, or contacting us – and it’s less intrusive than a pop-up. It’s also a permanent fixture of the page for as long as we need to collect data.

The feedback is then added to a data dashboard, which we’ll then look at on an ongoing basis to make decisions about improvements. For example, we might discover that large numbers of users say they’re looking for something that we know is contained in a different guide. This would mean that we might need to look at research guide navigation or the naming conventions that led a user to click on the guide they chose. However, if we find that users are struggling to locate guidance that’s actually included within the page they’ve landed on, we might need to change how the information is presented to make it clearer. We’ll blog again when we’ve looked at the data and have some conclusions to share.

We haven’t made a feedback component for research guides before, so we will also be paying close attention to how the widget is working in case we need to make any amendments. It’s currently located in the right-hand column of research guides and moves depending on the volume of content in this column (and whether you’re viewing on mobile or desktop) so we want to make sure users are noticing it and understand what it’s there for.

If you use the guides, please fill in the form and let us know how we can help! And if you’re interested in learning more about our web development and data analytics, let us know.

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