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How to create a better reading experience: Personalisation via secure single sign-on

AvatarBy Beth Rutter
Category - Blog

Tuesday 16th January 2018

Publishers, platform providers, and other teams that deliver content services to readers spend a great deal of time and effort in designing for the optimal user experience.

To help readers discover and digest relevant content, publishers have developed services that:

  • Allow easier access to their search and browsing history
  • Make recommendations based on their area of interest
  • Enable readers to annotate content

User-focused resources have a key feature in common: the ability to connect preferences and behaviour to individual readers’ accounts so that individuals can return across different sessions. Ultimately these services can lead to higher engagement and satisfaction as readers return to personalised resources much more frequently.

While IP-based access provides a simple way for readers to view subscribed digital content, personalisation options are very limited. The platforms they use can track their access back to an institution or department, but not to a specific individual. This represents the difference between displaying article recommendations based on an entire research team’s browsing history, versus being able to target papers to a specific researcher’s search history. And if readers want personalisation features they would need to create separate user accounts for each publisher resource they subscribe to.

By implementing federated single sign-on (SSO) solutions such as OpenAthens, publishers can make personalisation an automatic feature within their platform. This is because each reader is treated as an individual, whilst protecting their identity via a non-personally identifiable unique ID. Readers can log-in and benefit from personalisation features using just one access method without the need to create multiple accounts.

This allows you to customise the readers experience to a much higher degree and present highly-relevant content based on the reader’s individual history and browsing context. For example, as well as saving an individual’s search results and basing recommendations on the resources they’ve used, a publisher can identify the academic department a reader is affiliated with and highlight additional resources that are available to them through their institution.

This enriched experience offered by federated SSO solutions has clear benefits for the user, and has been demonstrated by publisher experiences. For example, following adoption of OpenAthens, IEEE saw IP recognition-based access to their resources fall by more than 45%. Other publishers such as Elsevier and ProQuest have taken full advantage of SSO-based personalisation features for resources such as ScienceDirect and Refworks.

You can find out more about personalisation at our webinar ‘Are you giving your users the best online experience?’ on Thursday 15 February. Register here for free!

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