In this post I wanted to outline a few things that Google Analytics provides as far as stats and info goes for users new to the program. This is a very powerful development tool that will give you more insight about just how your visitors use and view your website.
The following screenshots and comments will help provide a better understanding of just what Google Analytics can do for you. This tool has a lot of options so the following blog post is more of a crash course for people who have never used this analytical program before.
Google Analytics Main Dashboard
This is a screenshot of one of my own personal main dashboards. The Google Analytics main dashboard is a highly customizable drag and drop Ajax sandbox that can display a number of different metrics through pre-built analytical widgets.
Widgets featured below include:
- The number of new visits to your site.
- Unique visits – (These are brand new visitors who have never been to your page)
- Visits – (Here you see a global map indicating where in the world your visitors are coming from.)
- Browser type – (What browsers are your viewers using. This can show you where to direct design efforts.)
- Average visit – (How much time people spend on your site. Are people finding what they need?)
- Bounce rate – (A bounce is when someone lands on your page and immediately leaves. The graph below shows the overall bounce rate of your website.)
Landing Pages Dashboard
In this screenshot, you see the Google Analytics landing pages dashboard. These are the pages that people are coming in on. It gives you a better idea of what the majority of your visitors coming to your website are interested in.
Included in this dashboard are:
- Number of visitors to specific landing pages.
- Percentage of new visitors.
- Bounce rate – (a bounce is when someone immediately leaves a page after landing on it)
- Average pages visited.
- Goals – These are something that can be set up individually. These are used for action items. Sales, email sign ups, whatever you would like to pay extra attention to on a page.
Behavior Flow Dashboard
The behavior flow dashboard shows you popular paths your visitors take when they visit your website. It tells you how many people visited a page, where they went once they got to that page and eventually where they ended up dropping off of your website.
This can help determine just what they are looking for and help create a more intuitive navigation as well as provide ideas for pages that need to be seen better and may need more promotion and or easier to find links. It can also tell you if what you’re currently doing is working. Are people finding the pages they need? Is a recent change that was made attributing to people dropping from this page?
Real Time Dashboard
The real-time dashboard shows you how many people are on your website in real time. It tells you where they are by the minute and by the second. It tells you where these people are right now in the world as well as where they came from before they got to your website/ page.
Other options exist here such as conversions. A conversion is when someone completes a call to action. This is different for everybody. 1 example of a call to action would be a graphic that leads someone to a form. Once that form is filled it is considered a conversion. Like I said this is different for every niche.
Speed Suggestions Dashboard
The page speed suggestions panel will help you track down heavy pages and give you suggestions of what to do to make the page lighter. If there are people complaining about how long it takes for a page to load this is a good thing to pay attention to. Visitors are fickle. If your website takes forever to load visitors are likely to hit their back buttons and click on the next search result. If you notice you have a particularly high bounce rate you may want to evaluate your page load times.
In Page Analytics Dashboard
This panel is for will show you on a given page just where people are clicking. It clearly dictates what percentages of people are clicking on what. You’ll be able to see what parts of your navigation, in page links or outgoing links your visitors choose to navigate to.
Technology Browser / OS Dashboard
This panel will tell you not only what browser your visitors come in on but what operating system they were using, their screen resolution and how many colors their screens have.
If you notice that a large number of people are visiting your website in Internet Explorer 8 then it would make sense to see how your site responds in that version of that browser. All browsers render code differently and something that works in your favorite browser may look horrible in the browser favored by the majority of people who wind up on your site. This too may be the cause of your visitors scurrying from your site like lemmings to the sea.
Mobile Overview Dashboard
With the mobile overview and devices tab, you can get a better idea of what your viewers are using to see your website. Furthermore, if they are using a mobile device you can see what the majority of people are using. Each device has different OS and browsers and their own set of web design issues. From here you can trouble shoot for tablet or mobile experiences.
Google Analytics for Dummies
If you’re looking for better returns on your website you should be using Google Analytics. If you’re a web designer looking to improve the usability of your website you should be using Google Analytics. If you’re just looking to provide a better user experience on your website you should be using Google Analytics. This tool will help you to understand what parts of your website are and are not working. It will tell you things that your viewers will not or cannot.
It’s free, there’s tons of support and web tutorials available online, it’ll help you detect unseen code and SEO issues and it takes a minimal understanding of HTML to implement. Why aren’t you using it right now?