Practical Web Analytics for User Experience
Imagine you have just wrapped up a round of usability testing on your organization’s website. Half of your 10 test participants clicked on a misleading link and then immediately clicked the Back button and tried a different link. Clearly, there’s a problem here, but key stakeholders are unconvinced. They tell you that your sample size is too small to produce any statistically significant findings. Luckily, you have web analytics data available to you, and you can show that this is a common path for 63% of the website’s users over the last year. In addition, users spend, on average, among the lowest amount of time on that page that they accidentally go to compared to the rest of the website. Not only do you now have more evidence to show to stakeholders, you also have a better sense of the scale of the problem.
It turns out that your organization’s web analytics expert had often wondered why the average time on that page was so low, yet had so many pageviews. He knew something was wrong with those two pages because of the way users moved back and forth, but it was data from the usability test that showed exactly how the labeling misled some users.
utilize whatever data they can gather. Web analytics is one such valuable source of data. Web analytics experts can be a great ally, helping UX professionals understand data and find ways to measure aspects of user behavior that they need. In turn, UX professionals provide web analytics experts with a perspective on users that they can’t readily access.
However, UX professionals, like yourself, who work with websites and mobile applications (apps) can get a great deal of value from learning to work directly with web analytics. Using these tools not only allows you more immediate access to data, it also allows for the kind of open exploration and deep, iterative analysis that can be challenging when you work through an intermediary. A major drawback of relying on web analytics experts is that they won’t necessarily focus on the kinds of questions that are important to you—they may focus on measuring the effectiveness of online marketing efforts or simply filling requests for data. Adding web analytics tools as a regular part of your practice lets you build expertise in answering questions about users’ behavior and measuring the effectiveness of design changes. Web analytics can also help you communicate with stakeholders about how usability problems affect users and help you argue for important design and research activities.
This book is geared toward UX practitioners, from those just starting out to management, who want to add another source of data about users to their toolkit. It is for people familiar with or experienced in other user research methods, such as usability testing and contextual inquiry, or engaged in design. Readers do not need to be familiar with web analytics, but this book will be the most valuable for people who enjoy solving puzzles and are excited by the thought of working with numbers
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