What€™s wrong on your website? Use analytics to improve user experience

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In a recent post, Rob Walker shared his thoughts on the evolution of BI.

He identifies five stages of evolution, ranging from simple reports to an enterprise that not only automatically analyses its data in real time but also makes the automatic decisions on that information. One of his examples from stage 2 was finding out what’s going wrong in your call-center workflows or visualizing transaction volumes on a geographical map.

While Rob continues his insightful post by elaborating on the remaining stages, I want to focus my attention away from company internal affairs towards the Web as one of the major channels of customer interaction today.

Having a website that your visitors can actually use and on which they can find the information they are looking for is key for making successful business online. But how can you find out whether customers are at the brink of despair or having the time of their lives while surfing on your pages?

Evaluating website usability using experts or real users would come in handy but consumes time and money. Web analytics can be the foundation for making better decisions and optimizing your website by analyzing page views, click paths and tracking campaigns.

An interesting listing and feature comparison of several available products can be found here and here.

Once the hosted or software as a service solution is set up, a cornucopia of analytics possibilities is waiting to be utilised:

One illustration for a solid quick win, which is supported by most tools, is visualizing user interaction with the funnel feature, which can be set up in just a few mouse clicks: Typically, web transactions such as buying a product or registering for an event, consist of several page views like e.g. entering your password and username, selecting from a choice of items and submitting your selection.

In the analytics tool, the sequence of steps and the corresponding page URL are entered. The funnel offers instant visualization of how many users begin to register in a given period, how many users drop out at a each step (i.e. leave your website) and how many users are finally able to complete the transaction.

In the light of this information, analyzing the page design of each step by looking at the real website and discovering that buttons are misplaced or information is missing is the lever that improves your site.

That is just one example for successfully applying web analytics to improve user experience and customer satisfaction. Some more ideas on how to improve website usability (and making more money for the company) can be found in a post on usabilitynews.com.

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