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.
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.
- 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