Crunching the numbers...

Web Analytics

  • When and why

    Google Analytics tells us what users are looking for through the search terms they use and what content they look at on the site.


    The analysis gives a guide on what tasks they want to achieve on the site and what they actually achieved, although, of course, it only shows what people did, not what they failed to do – the absence of a click on some material doesn’t tell us why it wasn’t clicked. When used with usability testing, analytics tells us the ‘what’ to enable the testing to focus on the ‘why’. As part of an information architecture project, the analytics enables us to identify user goals and  top tasks – and gives a clue as to how successful or otherwise the site is at enabling users to achieve these tasks.

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  • Our approach

    We approach web analytics in a way which ensures that we’re analysing the degree to which the needs of the organisation are in alignment with the needs of the visitors. We can then spot problem areas where the two diverge and suggest improvements. We concentrate on measuring what matters.

    Measuring what matters

    Google Analytics contains a wealth of data, much of which may be irrelevant and confusing. We start with the broader picture of the strategic aim of the site and identify the data in Google Analytics which can provide insight into the success of the site.

    Action oriented process

    Where possible we involve the key personnel in the preliminary discussions of what we will be measuring. We will also draw on the finding from usability testing and user interviews when available. It is common for us to configure Google Analytics Dashboards and Custom Reports to make it easier for clients to continue to monitor the data. The purpose of these is to spot whether continuing changes either to the site or to the audience are making things ‘better’ or ‘worse’ — and then take action.

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  • How we do it

    Web Usability uses analytics to understand why users are visiting a site, and then to understand their behaviour within the site.

    Inbound visits

    • Compile evidence about the needs of the users based on where they come from (sources such as search and referring links) in combination with the pages on which they land
    • In the case of search visitors, analyse the keywords they used in their search as prime evidence of their needs

    Behaviour on the site

    • Check the data for the presence of common issues such as identical pages being counted separately because of inconsistent case and irrelevant parameters
    • Use Google Analytics ‘Goals’ where possible to measure the relative success of visitors in achieving their purpose and the aims of the site (we may seek permission from the client to set up extra goals and views of the data if appropriate)
    • Use Google Analytics ‘Segments’ to examine the different groups of visitors based on the origin of their visit and/or their behaviour on the site
    • Analyse the relative use of the various content areas of the site to determine which seem to be most important. Include in the analysis any areas which previous user research/feedback has revealed as areas users have had problems finding.
    • Analyse the on-site search terms and the pages from which the search began for evidence of the user’s needs
    • Examine the entrance pages and the most common routes then taken onwards in to the site (user journeys)
    • If the data is suitable, use In-page Analytics to examine the choice of links on the most popular pages


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  • Outputs

    Web Usability would compile a report covering top tasks, sources of visitors and activity on the site. The report would typically draw attention to relative success or failure of the site in meeting the needs of different groups of visitors, in order to draw lessons which can be used to make improvements to the under-performing areas.

    In addition we would often set up Custom Reports, Custom Dashboards and Custom Segments within Google Analytics to make it easier for clients to continue to work with the data using the same approach. Where appropriate, and with permission, we commonly also configure extra ‘Goals’ and ‘Views’ within Google Analytics to give greater detail and insight for the future.