V&A Collection – Trends Report 2016

Digital Media
December 19, 2016
Hill Top by night, Beatrix Potter, 1913, BP.294
Hill Top by night, Beatrix Potter, 1913, BP.294

UPDATED Post (17 Jan 2017):

A slightly revised version of the top 20 searches from 2016. The initial list from before Christmas counted page views for a search, so a visitor paging through 100 pages of results for “Shoes” would be counted as 100 searches. For a different view of the data, this list is based on search sessions, so the same visitor searching for “Shoes” paging through the same 100 pages of results would now only be counted as one search. Additionally we’ve tried to consolidate searches with different spellings or search options, e.g. “William morris” and “William Morris“, “imagetext or “image only”, etc.; there is a limit to how much we can assume with this though (for example, is a search for “Morris” intended for “William Morris”, “May Morris”, “Jane Morris”, or some other artist called Morris).  Finally we’ve removed the searches that started from the main collections landing page, as this are not natural searches but are guided by our choices . All this gives us the following top 20 (out of 1,116,683 other searches – we have a very long tail of searches!) :

  1. William Morris (2921 searches)
  2. Dress (1962 searches)
  3. Art Deco (1596 searches)
  4. Fashion (1439 searches)
  5. Embroidery (1237 searches)
  6. Corset (1212 searches)
  7. Shoes (1171 searches)
  8. Furniture (1069 searches)
  9. Art Nouveau (1006 searches)
  10. Chair (1003 searches)
  11. China (997 searches)
  12. Toys (973 searches)
  13. Jewellery (959 searches)
  14. Wallpaper (955 searches)
  15. Kimono (921 searches)
  16. Beatrix Potter (850 searches)
  17. Glass (834 searches)
  18. Underwear (808 searches)
  19. Meissen Figure (807 searches)
  20. Ceramics (787 searches)

Some of the individual searches “Thomas Rowlandson“, “Chanel“, etc have moved out of the previous list as they had fewer individual searches (but clearly more dedicated searchers paging through the results, which raised their page counts). Interesting to compare the similarities and differences with Europeana‘s Top 20 as mentioned by Adrian in the comments.

Original Post:

Welcome to the annual V&A Collection search trends report for 2016, providing newspaper columnists and social media pundits the opportunity to fill the Christmas period with questionable data interpretation and spurious trend spotting.

As it now seems to be obligatory to provide end of year reports on what people have spent the year searching for (on the web, not in life; assuming there is still a difference), we thought we should publish our own top 20 list of the most popular search terms on the V&A’s Search the Collections site. (Search the Archives will have to wait until next year when we have a full twelve months’ data to provide total statistical accuracy.)

  1. William Morris
  2. Art Deco
  3. Art Deco (image only search)
  4. Fashion
  5. Corset
  6. Thomas Rowlandson
  7. Shoes
  8. Dress
  9. Indian Company Paintings
  10. Beatrix Potter
  11. Mantua
  12. furniture
  13. constable
  14. Chanel
  15. Constable
  16. Fashion
  17. embroidery
  18. Kimono & 18= wallpaper
  19. art nouveau

Deep interpretation of the results is left to the reader. Many of the searches are of course for topics and collections the V&A is renowned for (including the great man himself in the top spot). But there are some curiosities in the list; for example Thomas Rowlandson tip-toeing ahead of shoes (but just behind a corset), possibly prompted by our colleagues at the Royal Collection’s exhibition earlier in the year?; the sesquicentenary celebrations marking the work of Beatrix Potter, who would have not likely been seen in a mantua dress; and the continued appeal of designers and artists from Constable to Chanel (other letters of the alphabet are also available).

About the author

Digital Media
December 19, 2016

Is a web developer at the V&A interested in data and systems, and the complicated connections between them. ORCID: 0000-0002-3177-1313

More from Richard Palmer
5 comments so far, view or add yours


Numbers of searches for each would help us interpret the list. And why does Constable appear twice?

In answer to both your questions, the same terms appear twice due to different search options being selected (e.g. Image only results, image and text, etc) Obviously this doesn’t make much difference to us but for the analytics it considers them to be totally different searches.

I’ll update the post in the New Year with consolidated results, removing the duplicates.

This is a good post. This post give truly quality information. I’m definitely going to look into it. Really very useful tips are provided here. thank you so much. Keep up the good works.

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