Site statistics - the next level

By Josh
(Server Administrator)
Dec 5th, 2011
0 Comments

Site statistics aren't just about the number of hits anymore.

It's not just about the number of unique visitors either, or country of origin, time of day, return visits or search phrases. There are further statistics available that can really assist in the analysis of visitor traffic. Statistics that can help in making decisions about site structure and improving user experience.

To get access to these site statistics, you need to use a number of different applications. Google Analytics, Piwik and OWA are slowly incorporating all these features into their applications, but none of them will be the best at everything.

 

Visitor flow

Ever wondered what the most frequent user paths are through your site? Sure, you can see entry and exit points easily enough but what about everything in-between? What about paths through a particular page? For an ecommerce site it is useful information to see what products are being looked at during a session. For a blog or information site it's good to see what related information is visited next. It's quite possible that the path you expect visitors to follow is not the one they use, so from this information, items such as call-to-action buttons may need to be used or improved, to influence visitors to follow the path you want them to - usually to some kind of goal such as a signup, contact page, add to cart or a purchase. Google Analytics has only just released flow visualisation but phpTrafficA has been doing it for years. It also shows you recent visitors, where they came from and how long they spent on each page as they browsed through the site.

 


Heat maps

Does your site have multiple navigations, with some of the same links? Do you know which navigation your visitors use most to get to the page? Where are the most common clicks on a web page? Where do people move their mouse around on the screen? Information like this can assist in determining the most important parts of a page, and can help in deciding where to relocate navigation items (or order), advertisements and call-to-actions. Heat maps are an overlay on top of the web page that looks like an infrared temperature image, showing blue hues for "cold areas" - small number of clicks and orange to red hues for "hot areas" - the more frequently clicked points on the page. So it's fairly quick to see the most common actions on the page. OWA has this feature.

You can view an example heatmap image here.

 

Recordings

While I'm not sure about privacy issues (it could be put in the privacy statement) individual pages can be set to record user actions. OWA has a feature called domstream recordings. This allows you to play a user's actions over a copy of the page, so you can see where the mouse was moved, what was clicked, when scrolling took place etc. As it doesn't record what was on the screen at the time, it's really only useful for static sites that aren't interactive. It definitely has a "big brother" feel about it, but hey - go into any supermarket these days and there's video surveillance footage of you browsing through the aisles!

 

Real time analytics

Waiting until tomorrow to find out what happened today is... pardon the pun... so yesterday. Google Analytics have just released a real-time analytics report where you can see what is happening on your site right now. Other analytics applications such as Piwik have been doing this for a while and we found the information invaluable for investigating small changes on busier sites, and especially for testing that the configuration of a goal or trigger is correct.

 

eCommerce sites

There are special analysis tools available in all the big analytics products to track events such as when a product is viewed, added to the cart, or gone through the checkout. These tools can show how many of the products are being overlooked for some reason and how many are left sitting abandoned in the cart. Remember that a page load doesn't always equate to a product view, as a 5 second display time isn't enough to consider the product as being properly looked at. This is similar to browsing through a retail store and looking at products but moving right on, uninterested. Triggers can be placed so that when a page is open for a certain time it records the event.

In my opinion, an eCommerce site is the type of site that requires analysis of visitor statistics the most. As it is often a source of income, it deserves the same amount of attention as a physical retail store, for deciding what products to put on display in different parts of the store, and making it as easy as possible to get the shoppers' attention, get the products they want in their cart and headed straight through the checkout.

By using the statistics we've just described, we can analyse what is working and what isn't. Those products sitting in the warehouse with dust on them might just be there because they weren't promoted right, were too hard to find, or the checkout process was so painful that the shopping cart was dumped and the shopper walked out the door.

Call QMG to find out how you can use these more advanced analysis tools to improve your website today!

Leave a comment

 
 
 
security If you are finding this security image hard to read, click this icon to reload a different word.
Enter in the security text above to validate this form.

There are no comments yet. Be the first one!

Back to our Thoughts

Site statistics - the next level

By Josh
(Server Administrator)

0 Comments

Categories: Geek Stuff

Site statistics aren't just about the number of hits anymore.

It's not just about the number of unique visitors either, or country of origin, time of day, return visits or search phrases. There are further statistics available that can really assist in the analysis of visitor traffic. Statistics that can help in making decisions about site structure and improving user experience.

To get access to these site statistics, you need to use a number of different applications. Google Analytics, Piwik and OWA are slowly incorporating all these features into their applications, but none of them will be the best at everything.

 

Visitor flow

Ever wondered what the most frequent user paths are through your site? Sure, you can see entry and exit points easily enough but what about everything in-between? What about paths through a particular page? For an ecommerce site it is useful information to see what products are being looked at during a session. For a blog or information site it's good to see what related information is visited next. It's quite possible that the path you expect visitors to follow is not the one they use, so from this information, items such as call-to-action buttons may need to be used or improved, to influence visitors to follow the path you want them to - usually to some kind of goal such as a signup, contact page, add to cart or a purchase. Google Analytics has only just released flow visualisation but phpTrafficA has been doing it for years. It also shows you recent visitors, where they came from and how long they spent on each page as they browsed through the site.

 


Heat maps

Does your site have multiple navigations, with some of the same links? Do you know which navigation your visitors use most to get to the page? Where are the most common clicks on a web page? Where do people move their mouse around on the screen? Information like this can assist in determining the most important parts of a page, and can help in deciding where to relocate navigation items (or order), advertisements and call-to-actions. Heat maps are an overlay on top of the web page that looks like an infrared temperature image, showing blue hues for "cold areas" - small number of clicks and orange to red hues for "hot areas" - the more frequently clicked points on the page. So it's fairly quick to see the most common actions on the page. OWA has this feature.

You can view an example heatmap image here.

 

Recordings

While I'm not sure about privacy issues (it could be put in the privacy statement) individual pages can be set to record user actions. OWA has a feature called domstream recordings. This allows you to play a user's actions over a copy of the page, so you can see where the mouse was moved, what was clicked, when scrolling took place etc. As it doesn't record what was on the screen at the time, it's really only useful for static sites that aren't interactive. It definitely has a "big brother" feel about it, but hey - go into any supermarket these days and there's video surveillance footage of you browsing through the aisles!

 

Real time analytics

Waiting until tomorrow to find out what happened today is... pardon the pun... so yesterday. Google Analytics have just released a real-time analytics report where you can see what is happening on your site right now. Other analytics applications such as Piwik have been doing this for a while and we found the information invaluable for investigating small changes on busier sites, and especially for testing that the configuration of a goal or trigger is correct.

 

eCommerce sites

There are special analysis tools available in all the big analytics products to track events such as when a product is viewed, added to the cart, or gone through the checkout. These tools can show how many of the products are being overlooked for some reason and how many are left sitting abandoned in the cart. Remember that a page load doesn't always equate to a product view, as a 5 second display time isn't enough to consider the product as being properly looked at. This is similar to browsing through a retail store and looking at products but moving right on, uninterested. Triggers can be placed so that when a page is open for a certain time it records the event.

In my opinion, an eCommerce site is the type of site that requires analysis of visitor statistics the most. As it is often a source of income, it deserves the same amount of attention as a physical retail store, for deciding what products to put on display in different parts of the store, and making it as easy as possible to get the shoppers' attention, get the products they want in their cart and headed straight through the checkout.

By using the statistics we've just described, we can analyse what is working and what isn't. Those products sitting in the warehouse with dust on them might just be there because they weren't promoted right, were too hard to find, or the checkout process was so painful that the shopping cart was dumped and the shopper walked out the door.

Call QMG to find out how you can use these more advanced analysis tools to improve your website today!

Leave a comment

 
 
 
security If you are finding this security image hard to read, click this icon to reload a different word.
Enter in the security text above to validate this form.

There are no comments yet. Be the first one!

Back to our Thoughts