A lot of focus is put on using web analytics data to make incremental improvements in site performance. But as audiences, brands, products, and technologies change – sometimes a site needs a complete redesign. When it’s time for a complete site overhaul, it’s important to dive deep into the web analytics for the site early in the process.
Data and insight derived from web analytics should be a key driving force in the creation of wireframes, information architecture, and usability testing. The following is a partial list of bits of data that help User Experience experts make informed decisions, when creating the layout for a new site that will more effectively achieve the intended goals:
- Navigation Preferences: By categorizing your navigation types into groups such as drop-down menus, primary navigation, content navigation, quick-links, content links, text links, graphic/button links, flash/media links, etc you can start to see how visitors prefer to navigate across the site. This becomes more exciting when you are able to compare these numbers with the navigation preferences of other sites.
- Visitor Tasks: Content popularity and/or click-paths are essentially the visitor showing you what tasks they are performing successfully (conversion) or unsuccessfully (abandonment).
- Vocabulary / Nomenclature / Taxonomy: The visitors are telling you how they describe and categorize their needs in 3 important ways. First, the choice of words and phrases they use on public search engines such as Google. Second, their choice of words and phrases on your site search engine (i.e. Endeca). Thirdly, they are exposing what words make them click within the navigation and content in the site (as well as what words they don’t click on).
- User Research: Often overlooked is the data that tells us what company the visitor is at when navigating the site as well as demographic information such as if they are using an expensive ISP or a more practical one. Their technical aptitude can be loosely derived from their connection speed, browser, operating system, and plug-in preferences. The language, region, country, state, and county of your visitors also helps in defining web marketing strategies.
- Conformity / Variance: Analyzing the deviation in variables such as visitation (frequency / latency), click-through-ratios, and search trends shows degrees of loyalty and dependencies within your visitors during a sales cycle/product research.
Generating a report of these variables and more helps the entire team review and evolve site layouts more intelligently. Often in projects we find that if the wireframes and information architecture are data-driven, the revision of designs becomes an informed process rather than one of personal preferences.