No internet presence can be successful as an isolated island. Measuring traffic and understanding user behavior gives developers powerful tools in designing effective sites. Google Analytics introduced a new interface this year. Although it is often difficult to navigate, a few features are worth noting, if you can find them.
Visitor flow visualization
A powerful tool in understanding visitor behavior the flow visualization “tracks” user navigation through web pages within your site. For example, we see users coming to FTM from the Internet, and a smaller percentage browses further into the site reading other posts. For a site that is designed to retain user attention, or to encourage users to complete certain processes like entering data or completing a sale, visitor flow provides clues that site designers can use to improve outcomes.
Another great visualization tool puts analytics data directly on a site. This is an effective tool for web designers to see what works and what does not. It is like a map of user activities. It definitely helps designers to experiment with changing the layout and placement or look and feel of a sites based on actual user feedback.
With the surging share of Internet access coming from smart phones, Google Analytics can track mobile websites and mobile apps. Tracking traffic to a mobile website from all web-enabled devices is enabled by adding a server side code snippet. More so, iPhone and Android mobile applications can now also track how users engage and interact, just as with tracking engagement on a website.
Site speed provides performance measurement of user experiences. A web page taking too long to load may send users away. Designers can use the information to balance between richness of content and performance to optimize user experience. Technically, site speed provides break down of redirection, domain lookup, server response, as well as network latency time. This is valuable information to determine where the improvements may come from.
It is worth noting that Google Analytics still has a lot of limitations. For example, bounce rate and time spent on page can be misleading. This is particularly true when a reader reads only the front page of a site. If a visit involves only one page, regardless of the amount of time spent on it, it is considered a bounce. Since Google Analytics calculates average time on site is by subtracting the timestamps between the first and the last page view of a visit, it is unable to calculate average time on site for visitors without a second page view. Furthermore, there is currently no way for Google Analytics to know exactly when a visitor left the site since it is not informed when the visitor closes their browser or navigates to a different site. This may change in the future when browser codes are integrated with analytics, which will require cooperation among vendors to establish consistent standards.