New York University (NYU) Libraries is a global organization that advances learning, research, and scholarly inquiry in an environment dedicated to the open exchange of information. As the library of a prestigious university in the 21st Century, their proactive focus on technology enables them to actively reach users at their point of need, wherever that may be.
Today, the number one goal in NYU Libraries’ strategic plan is to “create a user experience that is high quality, consistent, and robust regardless of the user’s location, access method, or objective.” Obviously, their website serves as a critical component in reaching that goal.
As head of user experience for NYU’s library division, Nadaleen Tempelman-Kluit manages their online conduit between the university’s vast number of diverse users (from students and faculty to researchers and staff) and the massive amounts of information available. Here, Nadaleen explains their move to Swiftype as their primary site search and how it has improved their user experience.
What prompted you to look for a new site search?
Nyu.edu uses Google Site Search, so we were using that as our library’s site search. We didn’t have a lot of ability to customize the search, so we wanted to move away from that and get our own solution. We wanted to have more control.
What control did you need?
We didn’t have access to the analytics, so we didn’t know what was possible. We didn’t know all of the things we could do until we deployed Swiftype, but before we weren’t customizing anything. We wanted to gather data to improve both the search experience and how we were presenting our content to the users.
Did users notice your lack of customization?
Yes, for sure. We also had the old search kind of buried, so users had a tough time even finding it. But now our [Swiftype] search is front and center across all of our pages because now we understand our users better and recognize what they’re looking for.
How long did it take to implement Swiftype?
It was just a day. We worked with our CMS vendor, Siteleaf, and they recommended Swiftype. So we took their recommendation and it was ready to go almost immediately.
What types of analytics are helping you improve the user experience?
I tend to look at search queries, and that’s been really helpful. Swiftype’s synonym insights are also great. I can look at queries, see what people are searching for and what words they’re using, then add those keywords to our site. That’s been pretty huge.
We have a service called The Avery Fisher Center for Music and Media, where students get DVDs and watch videos, but most people spell it ‘Fischer.’ So there were a ton of people searching for Avery Fischer and not finding anything. That’s a perfect example. Another is a service called E-ZBorrow, which is spelled e-hyphen-z, but people obviously search for “e-a-s-y.” So we put in ‘E-Z’ and the synonyms ‘easy’ and ‘Easy-Borrow’ and so on. That’s been helpful, and it’s a great way to learn your audience.
Where have you seen improvements since deploying Swiftype?
Just looking at the number of searches, it’s much higher than I expected. It’s become very clear that site search is a big deal for our users.
What’s the Swiftype feature you just can’t live without?
The search queries. That sounds basic, but I’m looking for the percentage of people who succeed in finding something. As the head of user experience, that’s incredibly valuable to me. When I see queries where people didn’t find something, I want to jump in and resolve that.
Want to learn more? We have other great stories about how Swiftype has helped other organizations accomplish great things with Site Search. Check it out now!