The more and more the web progresses, so does a person’s expectation of a website and what it should do for them. While we of course want our websites to look good, we also need to ensure we are giving our users what they want and how they want it, and one way to do this is by looking at our website’s analytics, to see what users are actually doing…
Choosing your sample
Once you have Analytics set up for your site, choose a date range to sample the representation of a typical user’s behaviour. The date range you choose will depend on your number of visitors, but around six months is a good figure.
First we need to identify if and where the website is falling short. Once you’ve set your data range, start by looking at how many pages are being viewed on an average visit, how long the time spent on a page is, and what your bounce rate is. If you’re a content-based site and have just a few seconds spent on each page, then you perhaps need to evaluate your content quality.
The bounce rate is normally shown by a percentage, and this means how many people are landing on the site and leaving without interacting with the page at all. In an ideal world we’d all like to see 0% for each page, but the lower the % the better.
The key to good analysis is investigation. Once you’ve identified some statistics of concern, turn detective to find the root cause. Analyse the pages that have higher bounce rates than others and look as to reasons why. Are there too many links? Is the layout confusing? Set the objective for the page and then work up a different layout.
When undertaking new web projects, such as a complete redesign and build, analysing the current site through Analytics is a great place to start, and really helps to inform data driven decisions.
Try to think of websites as a collection of components, such as a slider, newsletter sign up form, latest news feed etc, which build up a page. To find component performance information in Analytics, head to ‘Behaviour’ and then click ‘In page analytics’. Changes could be as simple as adding a title to the newsletter sign up form or improving the homepage slider to encourage click-throughs. If a lot of time and hard work has been invested in the slider component within the page, and you don’t want to delete it, perhaps consider moving it to another location to see if this helps interaction.
Test and retest
When conducting a body of work like this, it’s important to look at the same data after you’ve made changes. Have the changes made an impact? If they haven’t why not? Make more changes, then retest again.
Your website needs to constantly adapt to the needs of your customers. Understanding your users, what they are doing and how they are doing it, will create experiences that will lead to quicker conversions.
This article was originally posted on the Absolute Design blog here: www.absolute-design.co.uk/services/web-design/how-to-use-analytics-to-improve-website-user-experience