Google Analytics can provide valuable insights and strong, fact-based evidence to inform your strategic decisions. This can help you to make your website more relevant to your ideal customers. In order to create a good user experience, it’s important to gain this insight and understanding into who is using your site and what their goals may be.
There are a number of different tools that will provide you with different types of data about how people use your website. These include:
- Web Analytics: for collecting data from the internet, detailing how a website is being used.
- Heatmaps: for tracking user behaviour on a specific web page.
- User Session Recording: for watching how people navigate the pages on your site.
I use all of the above when conducting my research, but today I’ll focus on web analytics. My team uses this data when evaluating who is using the site, how they are finding content and which content they prefer. Web analytics also highlights content that isn’t doing very well and gives us insights that we may investigate further with user testing. Analytics can be overwhelming when you first use the software; so I’ve put together a list of my most used areas, to help you get started.
Where to look in Google Analytics to...
...uncover information about users:
- Audience > Mobile > Overview
- You can use device split, to show the percentage of visitors using desktop compared with mobile and tablet. This can provide valuable information on how behaviour differs between devices. For example, it may become clear that pages with address information are more popular on mobile than desktop, indicating that users are trying to find you. If the user experience is inconsistent across devices, this could have an impact on the site’s performance.
- Audience > Behaviour > New vs Returning
- Analysing new vs returning visitors will tell you how well the website is supporting new customers compared to returning ones. From this, you can establish whether there are ways to improve engagement and encourage return visits.
- Customisation > Custom Reports > Sessions > Hour
- Checking what time of day/week users are visiting your site will help to uncover many patterns. These may mean that you change your marketing strategy to suit your customers.
… find information about what content people are consuming:
- Acquisition > Search Console > Queries
- Search terms are used to help us understand what content people are looking for and how users refer to things when searching. Identifying these terms helps you to include them in your content and navigation.
- Behaviour > Site Content > Exit Pages
- Low page visits and high exit rates might indicate that content needs improving or is hard to find. High page visits will tell you the topics and types of content that people are interested in.
- Behaviour > Site Content > All Pages
- High bounce rates might indicate that content is not meeting users’ needs; or, it could suggest that the page is working well and directing people to the information they need. Use this information to direct your user research and indicate which paths to test.
- Behaviour > Behaviour Flow
- Behaviour flows can help you to understand which content people are navigating to from the homepage, in order to identify the journeys they are taking.
- Behaviour > Site Speed > Page Timings
- Site speed is critical to the user experience, as a slow experience can lead to higher bounce and exit rates, which cause users to have a negative view of a brand.
The information gathered through Google Analytics provides a picture of how your site is supporting users and which areas you can change to meet your business objectives and users’ needs. The data allows you to plan an effective strategy, and to set goals or targets to improve your performance. These may include producing new content, to enhance your ability to engage with different types of audiences.
I hope this quick guide gets you set up using Google Analytics for user experience as soon as possible. If you’re looking for a more in-depth understanding, we hold regular training days at CTI; our next event is on the 10th May in our Manchester offices. You can find out more about the training below.