March 2012

Request:

a)  How many hits on the website ordering page?
b)  How many or what percentage of hits were converted into requests for estimates (counting unique users per day rather than simple page hits)?
c)  How many or what percentage of requests were rejected out of hand with a standard message?
d)  How many or what percentage were rejected with a relevant, helpful reason?
e)  How many failed and led to complaints?
f)  Of   e) how many were from countries primarily English-speaking?
g)  How many led to estimates for whole documents?
h)  Of   g) how many estimates for whole documents were fully taken up by the customer?
i)   Of   g) how many estimates for whole documents were requested in part by the customer?
j)   Of   i)   how many partial orders from estimates for whole documents were allowed to be copied?
k)  Of   j) what reasons were given for denial and were these at variance with the guidance quoted at "Whilst viewing your
estimate..." at (ii) above?
l)  How many led to estimates for partial documents?
m)  Of   l) how were the ranges determined?

Outcome:

Partial success, some information provided. Cost limit applicable to part of the request.

Response:

This request has been handled under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The FOI Act (section 1) gives you the right to know whether we hold the information you want and to have it communicated to you, subject to any exemptions which may apply.

In response to question a) In 2011 The National Archives had 265,939 hits to our website ordering page.

This figure also includes customers making repeat visits to the catalogue and then returning to the ordering page. Meaning that one customer may make several visits to this page while considering or in the process of placing an order.

In question b) you specifically ask for unique users per day. The software we use for monitoring our web pages tracks the number of visits to a page. Therefore we can provide the following figures for 2011 (note that a visit is a series of actions that begins when a visitor views the first page from the server, and ends when the visitor leaves the site or remains idle beyond the idle-time limit):

• There were 85,174 visits to the ordering page (average 233 per day)
• 30,453 visits to the receipt page (average 83 per day)
• Therefore making the conversion 35.75% based on visits 
 
In relation to questions g) - m) we can confirm that in 2011 (January to December) we received 25,433 requests for estimates via the website. From these requests approximately 30% were converted into actual copy orders, totalling 7,554.

To clarify the difference between the figures for the visits to the receipt page (this is the webpage which informs you that an order has been placed and a successful transaction has occurred) and the number of copy estimates received from the website occurs for several reasons. The main reason being that a customer may visit the page more than once in the process, thus making this figure higher than the copy estimates we receive.

In answer to your questions e) and f) we recorded and handled eight complaints, since June 2010 relating to estimates and abandoned requests. Six complaints - including your own - arose from abandoned requests for estimates, and a further two also arose from abandoned research requests. Of these complaints five were from the UK and the remainder were from France, Bulgaria and Germany (one from each) but all written in English.

In questions b) - d) and consequently g) - m) you requested figures that relate to unique users per day rather than simple page hits. As mentioned we are unable to break these down into the itemised information you have requested for 2011.This is because to breakdown this down further and answer the specific questions above would require significant analysis of data. Our software tracks and monitors the number of visits to the website and so we can provide these figures. To provide details relating to unique users would require us to process and then analyse a whole year's worth of log files, which we estimate would take up to 15 working days. This is because we only have access to the previous month's logs after such time the log files are zipped up and archived. These archived files are huge and we don't have the storage space to unzip a year's worth of logs and analyse them in one go.

We therefore estimate that the cost of locating and retrieving this information would significantly exceed the £600 fees limit. The National Archives is not obliged, by virtue of s12 (1) of the Freedom of Information Act, to comply with a request where the appropriate limit of £600 would be exceeded, and given the significant time it would take us we are unable to provide the information. Guidance on this can be found at www.justice.gov.uk/guidance/freedom-and-rights/freedom-of-information/fees.htm