Homepage survey findings

Lewis Wake
Friday 9 November 2018

In order to inform the refreshed design of the University of St Andrews homepage, the digital communications team wanted to establish what the top tasks were for all users of the current University homepage. The survey was also an opportunity for the team to gauge contextual information about how internal audiences currently use the University website.

Participants included current students and staff at the University of St Andrews, prospective students, alumni, parents of current students, members of the public, and other higher education institutions.

Participants were asked what their current satisfaction of the University homepage was. The focus of the survey was to identify what the top tasks of the University website are. All participants were also asked to provide examples of tasks they struggled to complete using the current University website.

The survey was run from Friday 27 July to Monday 3 September 2018, and in that time it amassed 269 responses. The survey was promoted from the University homepage.


Participant information

Of the 269 respondents, responses were generally balanced across different audiences. As as standalone audience, responses from current undergraduate students were slightly higher than the rest, closely followed by current members of staff.

Based on the homepage analytics, 35% of all sessions throughout the duration of the survey were from St Andrews.

Internal audiences made up the highest ‘turn out’ (59.7%), compared to external audiences (40.3%).

Answer choices Responses
a current undergraduate student at St Andrews 25.7% 69
a member of staff at St Andrews 22.7% 61
looking to study at St Andrews 19.3% 52
a current postgraduate at St Andrews 11.5% 31
a St Andrews alumn 6.3% 17
Other (please specify) 5.9% 16
a parent or guardian of a current student 4.5% 12
a member of the public 2.2% 6
working within the higher education industry out with St Andrews 1.9% 5
Total 100% 269


Those who selected ‘other’ included:

  • a St Andrews alumn working within the high education industry outwith St Andrews
  • incoming students
  • retired member of staff
  • parents of alumn


We asked this question to identify the current levels of overall customer satisfaction with the University homepage. Are users currently able to complete their tasks effectively and with ease?

All respondents answered this question.

On average, survey respondents rated the current University of St Andrews homepage 8 out of 10.

The chart below shows the breakdown of respondent’s choices.

Rank Responses
10 42
9 51
8 77
7 38
6 20
5 15
4 11
3 6
2 3
1 6

This positive incline indicates that the homepage is currently satisfactory, but there is still room for improvement.

When comparing the responses between internal and external audiences, the graph is very similar.

Top tasks

What are the main tasks you currently use the University of St Andrews website for? Please select five options.

220 participants answered this question and 49 skipped it.

Out of 52 possible answers, 51 were selected at least once. The only option that wasn’t selected was “making a complaint”.

The main findings from the top task question was that the majority of users used the University homepage to look up course information. This response ranked highly among prospective students, current students, and staff.


Top tasks for all audiences (220 respondents)

Answer choices Responses
Looking up course information 82
Accessing MySaint 79
Accessing the student portal 70
Looking for courses and subjects 60
Accessing MMS 51
Reading University news 48
Accessing Moodle 45
Checking tuition fees 42
Checking University events 38
Checking semester dates 37


Top tasks for external audiences (77 respondents)

Answer choices Responses
Looking up course information 42
Looking for courses and subjects 39
Checking tuition fees 26
Reading University news 24
Learning about scholarships 22
Checking University events 16
Finding study abroad information 15
Searching the University website 14
Finding out about the University and its traditions 13
Information on visiting St Andrews 12


Top tasks for internal audiences (128 respondents)

Answer choices Responses
Accessing MySaint 75
Accessing the student portal 60
Accessing MMS 50
Accessing Moodle 43
Looking up course information 35
Checking semester dates 27
Accessing the staff portal 24
Accessing email 22
Reading University news 21
Looking for courses and subjects 19

Key findings

  • On average, survey respondents rated the current University of St Andrews homepage 8 out of 10.
  • The overall top tasks reported using the website for were:
    • finding information about courses
    • accessing MySaint
    • accessing the student portal
    • looking for courses and subjects
    • accessing MMS
    • reading University news
    • accessing Moodle
    • checking tuition fees
    • checking University events.
  • The two largest respondent audiences were current students and members of staff at the University, totalling 48.1% of the survey’s respondents. For both audiences, the primary use of the University homepage was to access the student and staff portals respectively.
  • Prospective student respondents overwhelmingly voted that their primary use of the University homepage was to look up courses information. It is worth noting that this was also found to be a top task for current students.

Recommendations for the St Andrews homepage

  1. Due to the high number of respondents choosing ‘Looking up course information’ as their top task, the inclusion of a search banner on the University homepage would be a quick fix to cater this requirement.
  2. Due to the increased priority of requirements from internal audiences, links directly to student and staff resources should be included on the homepage.
  3. Quick links to prospective students essentials, including tuitions fees, scholarships, and visiting days information, should be featured on the homepage.
  4. Trending University news and events should be clearly displayed on the homepage.


The University homepage was updated on Wednesday 10 October 2018 in light of this newly acquired data. With over 250 respondents, and one lucky winner of a £40 Amazon voucher, we gathered a reliable source of data which aided in easy-to-implement design decisions that we hope provide more satisfaction to our users.

In order to gauge the success of these changes, further rounds of usability testing will occur and user feedback will be gathered.

For further reading regarding the updated University homepage, please see an earlier blog post: Updates to the University homepage.

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