What we’ve learned about how the Right to Remain Toolkit is being used (part one)


Photo of website statistics on a laptop by Carlos Muza on Unsplash

Last year we were delighted to announce that thanks to funding from the Legal Education Foundation, we were embarking on a new chapter in the life of the Right to Remain Toolkit. Our digital transformation project would enable us to take a deep dive into website statistics, talk to organisations across the UK, and hold community interviews with users of the Toolkit, and potential users.

Eight months on and as we come to the end of the first phase of our user research (thankfully with all the planned community sessions of this part of the project already completed!) we want to share some of what we’ve learned.

The Toolkit

The Right to Remain Toolkit was initially developed in 2011, in response to a consultation of refugee and migrant support groups and communities across the UK. The clear demand from the consultation was that, in the face of drastic legal aid cuts and diminishing support services, members of these groups needed information on how to navigate the legal process and take action to be able to establish their legal right to remain in the UK.

Since then, the uptake of the Toolkit – particularly in its online format – has soared with many thousands of people using our resources (the Toolkit and our legal updates blog) every month.

The project

This project has enabled us to set aside time, headspace and money to hear from people who already use the Toolkit, get to know about people’s digital behaviour (people’s online habits and actions) more broadly, and think about how the Toolkit can be even more accessible and help people understand their legal situation better and take appropriate action. 

We’re a small organisation, with just two of us working on the Toolkit, amongst many other things. All of the work on the Toolkit is done in-house, so we’ve learned a lot along the way and can quickly adapt to the oft-changing legal context. 

The first aspect of the “user audit” phase of our project was to take a closer look at our website statistics to see what we could learn about people’s use of the Toolkit and how that might suggest things that we could do better.

Google Analytics

Website analytics gathers data on people’s use of different websites.

Google Analytics categorises the website statistics it captures into three main areas:

  • audience data
  • acquisition data and
  • behaviour data.

These areas are not mutually exclusive and overlap with each other.

Audience data is information about visitors to a website, including their geographic location, the language they have their internet browser set to, and technology use (e.g. which browsers and operation systems they use, whether they are using a mobile phone, a tablet or a desktop computer), and information such as whether the visitor is new to the website or have visited before.

Behaviour data is information about visitors’ interactions with the website, such as which pages of the website they visit, the average time people spend on a page, behaviour flow (the path of page views through a website from the first page they arrive at till they exit), as well as key “events” such as downloads, video views and clicking on external links.

Acquisition data is information about how a website has acquired its visitors through different channels such as direct URLs (people writing the URL into the address bar), referral domains (people clicking through from links on other websites), organic search (search engines), paid search (search engines but when paid ads have been used), e-mails, and social networks.

This kind of information can be very useful for finding out what you need to do to reach new or more people, whether or not you are succeeding in keeping people looking at your website, and understanding how people interact with the website we spent so much time developing and continue to spend a lot of time updating!

One issue we quickly became aware of, however, is how much Google Analytics is focused on things like sales targets. This means that things that Google Analytics thinks are important goals may not be when your purpose is online learning (without trying to sell people things) like ours is. For example, Google Analytics encourages you to increase the amount of time that a visitor spends on a webpage, as this presumably makes them more likely to buy something. But if we are making information more accessible, for example, by having a short video for someone to watch rather than large amounts of text, we will have improved our effectiveness by time spent on the webpage decreasing.

What we’ve learned

  • We already regularly noted the number of users of the online Toolkit, but we’ve been looking more closely and more regularly at the numbers. For the first three months of 2020, we had an average of more than 11,200 unique visitors to the online Toolkit each month (this is just to the Toolkit, and doesn’t include visitors to our legal updates blog).
  • Over 80% of Toolkit users come to the website via a Google search. This matches what we learned in our community research, where Google was reported as the most popular way of finding information. We’ve been doing a bit of work to improve our “SEO” (Search Engine Optimization, meaning how high we show up in Google search results) but it’s a big area with lots of conflicting advice!
  • Nearly 75% of Toolkit users have their internet browser language set to English, suggesting this is their first language. That the figure for English is so high is not a surprise, as the Toolkit is primarily an English language resource. Last year, we introduced more translated resources and will be prioritising producing more translated material in the year ahead. In the meantime, a recent innovation has been the addition of a Google Translate bar in the header of every Toolkit page, which we’ve tested out in the community and seems to be working well. toolbar and learning on gt from interviews, and more translated material.
  • Nearly 85% of Toolkit users are based in the UK. Again, this is not surprising, as it’s a resource solely about the UK legal process!
  • The most used sections of the online Toolkit are 1) Human Rights (Article 8 family and private life) 2) Removal/Deportation 3) Appeals 4) Judicial Review and 5) After a Home Office Refusal.
  • The average time spent on a Toolkit page is around 3:05 minutes. Some people of course spend much longer on a Toolkit page but this is counteracted by other people, for example, landing on a page that they realise isn’t what they want and instantly navigating away. Nonetheless, this may be a metric that we try to improve – with the caveat we mentioned above, that less time spent on a page might demonstrate success in making information more accessible!
  • While we think it’s a good thing if people land on the most relevant page of the Toolkit to them first time, the asylum and immigration system is very complicated and we believe that in order to properly understand your legal case, you are likely to need to read more than one Toolkit section. In the first three months of 2020, the average number of pages per “session” was 2.07 which is a bit of an increase from the same period in 2019. A “session” is basically the period of time spent by a user on your website, which cuts off at 30 minutes when a new session will be counted.
  • The majority of Toolkit users look at the Toolkit on a mobile phone. We already knew this about our website users, which is why Michael, our coordinator who did all the website design, made it as a “mobile up” website meaning you start with how something looks and functions on a small screen. Over 60% of users are using a mobile, nearly 35% use a desktop computer and less than 5% use a tablet.

In our next post, we’ll take a look at what we’ve learned from our survey of Toolkit users and community interviews and focus group sessions.


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