This week, Schipulite Aaron Long was a Guest Lecturer for the Art Institute of Houston, where he currently serves on the Advisory Board, on the topic of Using Analytics to Understand Web Design.
At Schipul, we are often working on “redesign” projects, where a client has an existing website and design that needs to be updated. We know that just because a website is “attractive” doesn’t necessarily mean it is successful.
Every day, we are looking at current Analytics data from tools like Google Analytics to shape the design of a new website. Analytics tell us when to change a site from desktop only to mobile ready. Analytics tell us if we did well in search optimization. Analytics tell us what content should be presented for visitors. We use Analytics to determine the success and failure of projects – and hope to share some tips for you to use that data as well!
Below are Aaron’s slides and some insight from his presentation on how we use insight from Analytics in our designs.
Ten Tips for Using Analytics in Web Design
1. Annual Traffic has a Pattern
Traffic patterns tend to be highly correlated year after year after year. Online traffic should reflect what’s happening offline. If your busiest times are during Spring Break and Summer – your online traffic should reflect that pattern.
Incorporate These Traffic Patterns Into your Web Marketing Strategy:
- Take advantage of peak times with seasonal content
- Consider boosting low times with special offers or campaigns
- Track your progress by looking at year over year data (if you measure your success comparing month to month, you may miss these seasonal shifts)
- Plan in advance! Start your website redesign project early so you don’t miss out!
Tip: When comparing timelines in Google Analytics, choose “Compare to: Previous year” from the drop down to automatically select the same time frame last year.
2. Mobile Traffic Has Increased
Across the board, our clients are seeing increases in Mobile Traffic year over year. Our nonprofit clients saw an average 30% increase in mobile traffic from 2012 to 2013. Make sure you are accounting for mobile in your designs.
Don’t Ignore this Mobile Stat: According to Google, 57% of users say they won’t recommend a business with a poorly performing mobile website.
Make sure your site at a baseline “works” on a mobile device. Better yet – design it to be mobile and tablet optimized!
Use Analytics to Discover:
- What percent of traffic comes from Mobile Devices
- Filter down to the device level – does your audience primarily come from iPhone, Android, or Tablet?
Tip: In Google Analytics, navigate to Audience Tab > Mobile > Devices to see specific devices
Navigate to Audience Tab > Mobile > Operating System to view your traffic breakdown of Android vs. iOS
3. Consider Responsive Design
Responsive Design is the most modern and scalable way to handle mobile and tablet browsers – and a best practice as recommended by Google and other search engines. A site with a Responsive Design uses one style sheet and the content adjusts fluidly based on the width of any browser.
This means that a mobile, tablet, or desktop device serves up the same content on your website – which in turn means you only have to update content in one place to account for all devices.
4. Don’t Hide your Best Content
Look at Analytics for top visited pages and navigation paths. Make sure you are making your most popular content easy to find.
Tip: Drill down into the Content Tab > All Pages and select your homepage. Click the “Navigation Summary” tab to see which pages people visit most after your homepage.
5. Discuss Content Improvements with Clients
It’s not all about the design – the website’s content has to support the design to really be successful. Educate clients on content best practices and how they can improve their content strategically.
For instance, Google’s recent Penguin and Panda algorithm updates punish low quality content and overoptimization. Discuss what “High Quality Content” means and ideas for creating that type of content.
6. Remember – You Can Pay Your Way
Search Engine Optimization takes time – it takes about three months for Google to fully index a new website. You can use online PPC advertising to drive traffic to your site immediately – but note that it can get expensive, especially in a crowded or competitive space.
Use tools like the Google Traffic Estimator to see estimates of how much your keywords might cost. Remember to target ads by geography to get the most for your money.
Infographic: The 20 Most Expensive PPC Keywords
7. Design With Purpose
There is an abundance of resources and research on what makes a good landing page that converts well available. Take into account all of these best practices like:
- Start with an attention grabbing headline
- Use third party validation like testimonials and validating logos
- Use a strong call to action
- Continue to test, test, test! (use tools like Google Analytics Content Experiments to help test)
Example Resource: The Anatomy of a Perfect Landing Page
8. Know What Your Audience Wants
Use the data you have to look at what your audience is interested in. Where do they spend their time and money on your site? If you are getting most of your traffic through photos or revenue through events, make sure those items are easy to navigate and find on your site.
For Tendenci clients, check out our newly updated Invoice Reporting features to learn more about the revenue reporting options available in Tendenci
In this example, 21% of traffic and over $1 million in revenue comes through Events. It was an easy decision to make Event content (including content on upcoming events and photos and video from past events) easy to find on the site!
9. Tap Into the Three Motivations of People – Social, Material, Ideological
- Social Motivations – Identity, relationships, a sense of belonging
- Material Motivations – This is the most straight forward of the three, you give something (time, money, etc.) to get a material gain
- Ideological Motivations – Identifying with a cause or higher purpose
Think about what really motivates your audience when designing. Your audience may initially be Socially Motivated to attend your events because their friends are involved before they know anything else about your organization – or they may be looking for Material discounts or special offers. Particularly for nonprofits – tap into Ideological motivations with storytelling focused photos and visuals to compel them to donate!
10. Track Your Goals
Set up Goals in Analytics and track them. This adds Conversion data to any report and allows you to see not just where traffic is coming from – but which keywords, sources, content, etc. are actually converting.
Note that you can only see retroactive Goal Tracking data in Analytics – so don’t wait to set up these Goals so you don’t miss any data!
Short video on setting up Goals in Analytics and tips for determining what your goals should be:
In Conclusion: Analytics are Powerful!
Website Analytics give us powerful insight into how an audience is engaging with a website. Use this data to shape how you think about any design work – even if it is as simple and reworking one piece of the website.
Make sure Analytics is installed and Goal Tracking set up now to start using this data to shape your design!