Discovering Digital Library User Behavior with Google Analytics

  • Kirk Hess, Digital Humanities Specialist, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign,

code4lib 2012, Wednesday, February 8 2012, 09:15-09:35

Digital library administrators are frequently asked questions like "How many times was that document downloaded", or "What’s the most popular book in our collection?" Conventional web logging software, such as AWStats, can only answer those questions some of the time, and there’s always the question of whether or not the data is polluted by non-users, such as spiders and crawlers. Google Analytics, ( , a JavaScript-based solution that excludes most crawlers and bots, shows how users found your site and how they explored it.

The presentation will review tracking search queries, adding events such as clicking external links or downloading files, and custom variables, to track user behavior that is normally difficult to track. We'll also discuss using jQuery scripts to add tracking code to the page without having to modify the underlying web application. Once you've collected data, you may use the Google Analytics API to extract data and integrate it with data from your digital repository to show granular data about individual items in your Digital Library. Finally, we'll discuss how this information allows you to improve the user experience, and summarize some of the research we are doing with our digital repository and the data gathered from Google Analytics.