You’ve designed, developed and marketed your website and people have started trickling in. You feel like moving onto the next project, but if you stop examining the finished product at this point you could be losing customers because of any number of things. The final step to designing a well performing website is to use analytics to spy on your users and see if they are doing what your website is purposed for.
Set the Goals
First things first, without knowing how you want your site to perform, there is no reason to analyze your site. Your analytics are there to tell you if you are on track, not to tell you what the track for your site is. That you set on your own.
You should be looking at things like bounce rate, load times and where users spend the most time.
Depending on the purpose of your site, your bounce rate could be anywhere from 15% of users to 90%, so you have to decide for yourself what ‘normal’ should be. Is your site a single page to collect user info? Then a 90% bounce rate should be expected. If your site is a retail conglomerate’s online catalog with the power to monetize the goods without ever stepping into the physical brick and mortar building then you should be looking for a 10-20% bounce rate.
Speed and Performance Analytics
Load times are a little less subjective than bounce rates as far as analytics are concerned. The majority of the page should load in under 3 seconds; however certain larger elements may take longer. As long as the user is aware that the site isn’t dead then your bounce rate won’t be increased.
The biggest performance affect on bounce rates is load times, and excessive load times also affect the page’s rank for Google search results.
The number of people experiencing your new, efficient load times is the next most important thing to track. When combined with where they came from you’ll be able to figure out any marketing campaigns that are performing well, or those that aren’t. By knowing the number of people coming into the site, and the number of people being paid for in marketing campaigns, you can begin to understand virility and natural search numbers.
The Pages your Readers go to in which Order
You can front load pertinent information only if you know what pages your readers are heading to first. By tracking a user as they go through your site, you can begin to understand what they want.
You may have had an idea while you were designing, but users are strange. There’s no other way to put it. You may be strange, and think you understand it well enough to design for them, but there are often big differences between my own thoughts on what they will do, and what they actually do. I’ve been doing this for 5 years, and have learned that I’ll never understand the mass of users the way I’d need to predict their behavior perfectly.
You can change your design to match what you want the user to do to what they’re actually doing, if, and only if, you know what they’re doing.
The Pages your Readers Spend the Most Time
High numbers as far as this data analytics brings with you could be a good thing or a bad thing. Time spent on a site reading content is good, time spent on figuring out where to go next is bad. By determining the average lengths of time spent on each page, and trying to cut down the times that are high inappropriately, you can increase your conversion rate.
Speaking of Conversions
The finally thing you need to track is how successful your site is at converting a visitor to a customer. This should be simple; just whoever gives their email (or credit card information) over the number of total visitors equals your conversion rate.
The Final Thing to Measure…
It’s your happiness with the results of course. Without your satisfaction, everything is all for naught.
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