Data and Findings

We began the Discovery Phase by gathering all the information we could about who uses the homepage and how they use it. Data sources included:

  • Market Research
  • Google Analytics data
  • Hotjar heatmaps and user interaction videos
  • Case studies and digital design publications

In parallel, we interviewed stakeholder groups from across the university to better understand their communications goals, their biggest challenges, and the role that the homepage plays in their work. We complemented this with a review of case studies and research done for other websites and institutions.

The goal was to determine who to target with the homepage design, what the university needs the homepage to communicate, and how we can serve that audience and accomplish that mission. We knew that we would need to work with - not against - the needs of the homepage's users in order for it to be a success. 

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Market Research

The highlights:

  • The McGill name is not as well-known as we thought, particularly abroad
  • Distinguishing factors include McGill's strong international reputation, high rank among Canadian institutions, and the high quality of a McGill education
  • Montreal is a major selling point for McGill and an integral part of the McGill experience


For more information: Leger Marketing - Market Research Executive Summary (PDF) (detailed quantitative and qualitative reports available by request).

Google Analytics reports

The highlights:

  • Most of the traffic to the McGill homepage is from users outside of McGill; much of it is from first-time or infrequent visitors
  • Over a quarter of homepage traffic comes from mobile or tablet devices (this is the annual average; at certain times of the year, it's closer to one-third mobile)
  • McGill community members most often use the homepage as a way to access their email (roughly 36% of all clicks on the homepage), myCourses, Minerva and myMcGill
  • After the internal services listed above, the other most-clicked links from the homepage are related to recruitment and academics

For more information:


The highlights:

  • Users overwhelmingly hover (look at) and click regions of the page related to the links above; a large number also interact with the search field, About and Campus Life links
  • Users pay relatively little attention to the main slideshow, secondary slides, "give now!" link, news and events (although interaction with the main slideshow and news areas can vary based on the content)
  • Most users spend very little time on the homepage

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Stakeholder Interviews

In an effort to gain a better understanding of how McGill community members felt about their interactions with the homepage and other McGill sites, we conducted a series of interviews with staff and faculty members in June 2018. Feedback from these stakeholders revealed several common themes that have served as a baseline for the Web Evolution Program.

For details, consult the key findings of the stakeholder interviews.

Prospective Undergraduate Student Journey Mapping exercise

We took a deep look into the user journey of prospective undergraduate students, with the help of representatives from different areas of Recruitment and Enrolment Services. This gave us insight into what these users are thinking, feeling and doing at each step of their decision-making process, and helped us understand the role of the homepage and McGill websites more broadly.

The exercise identified a number of challenges and revealed opportunities (through the web and elsewhere) to simplify their journey.

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Case Studies

We skimmed through a large volume of data about how other institutions and companies handle their redesign. Some of the more memorable ones include:



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