Analytics to drive your Website’s Experience

In Nielsen Norman Group blog, Five Essential Analytics Reports for UX Strategists, Jennifer Cardello describes how analytics inform UX goals, strategies, and concepts. These are five examples that are essential:

1. How Fast Is Mobile Access Growing?

This information is helpful when you are planning, pricing, and comparing approaches to making your site mobile friendly. How much should you spend? What level of priority and resource dedication should mobile initiatives receive?

To contrast how mobile traffic quantity changed between two similar periods of time: take the current number of mobile visits divided by total visits = % of all visits via a mobile device. Then take the same time period one year ago mobile visits divided by total visits = % of all visits are via a mobile device. If mobile use currently accounts for less than 10% of unique visits, but it has increased by about 40% between these two time periods and this rate remains consistent, almost 45% of users would be accessing via mobile in 5 years.

2. How Much Do Social Networks Impact Our Ability to Meet Goals?

This information is helpful when you research and plan content strategy, to determine where your content gets traction and what content, is shared most often. With this information, you can conduct some manual categorization to make higher-level determinations of what topics and types of content build awareness and deliver traffic.

Run a report that lists specific links/content to determine which content types and topics attract site traffic. It’s almost always true that a small number of key topics are much better than others at stirring the social juices.

3. What Sources Drive the Most Conversions?

Look for reports that can provide granular data on how specific channels contribute to acquisition, how the visitor who come via those channels behave on your site, and how those channels contribute to meeting your goals. This insight helps content and marketing teams make decisions about the amount of effort, resources, and budget to dedicate to specific channels.

Look at goal completions and not simply count the number of users arriving from each channel. Some sources of traffic are notorious for mainly sending low-value visitors who are unlikely to do business with you. Know your target audience! For example, if your target audience is business professional then visitors coming from LinkedIn are more valuable to you then visitors coming from Facebook.

4. How Many Visits Does It Take for Visitors to Convert?

When evaluating and planning website experience, many Experience Design teams create customer journey maps for their target personas. These maps detail the interactions that prospects are likely to take (online and offline) along their path to becoming a customer. A ‘Path Length’ report indicates how many visits to the site occur before transactions take place. It shows this as percentage of total transactions and percentage of the value of those transactions. For example, you can quantify the value of conversions that occur after 1 visit to the site versus 6 visits.

This report can help in defining a realistic range in number of site visits before customers convert or take desirable actions (as defined by the goals that you set up in your analytics system). This statistical data can be used in concert with qualitative user research generated from methods such as interviews and contextual inquiry.

5. What Desirable Actions Do People Take on the Site?

Use a report to determine what actions visitors take on the site (besides moving from page to page). This can help in predicting potential hurdles with major shifts in site purpose and content. In order for this report to be useful, the site must be tagged for Events. Events, in analytics lingo, represent actions that do not result in loading of a new page (e.g., playing a video, pausing a video, downloading a document, and filling out form fields). In the past, event tagging required working with developers to add tracking code to specific elements throughout the site.

Developing a sound UX strategy requires access to behavior data and information. Analytics provides a wealth of information to help you answer both high-level and detailed questions regarding how your site serves users and meets business goals.