The role of Google Analytics in website usability research

food_swiss_army_knife_13_1233178-229pxWebsite usability historically has been about actual voice of users. With feedbacks, user polls, surveys researchers try to understand what users want to see on website and how they use an online interface.  A website built on these lines is often assumed to be   highly usable , highly converting and generating great user experience  , however that’s  only partly true. And I know this because I analyze website before and after a usability test and subsequent implementations.

Unlike usability tests  that gather preference data from a  handful few representing target audience,  web analytics is about tracking  anonymous all web traffic – practically all those who visit the website. So even after  leaving out all unnecessary or faulty information , it can give a good overall idea about demography and  how they generally behave  when on the website.  The tool gives a slew  of reports showing various perspectives of user behavior like – time on site, page depth,  user flow, navigation, content analysis etc. It is  this feature  within the tool that makes it so important for UX researchers.

Think of these reports alone with no  other complex setting the tool is dreaded for and it is practically a galore of  useful information helping you point out the issue– the bulls eye to target your full length usability tests. If we  notice areas of major dip in traffic, high exit or high bounce,  questions like ‘why’ can lead researchers to specific tasks for usability test.

Where as coupled with settings like goals  these same  reports can throw light  on the post phase – basically analyzing  how well were the usability tests insights been implemented , how did the majority of the traffic react to it, did something go wrong with data interpretation and what all this means to conversions. Traditionally , conversions and user experience are  considered two disparate things however I work with the principle they are just two different  perspectives of the same. More on this later.

To understand more on Google Analytics and Usability, I invite you to attend my online session happening Monday May 11th 10:30 am EST.

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