Content, UX, and design are a few of the items that you have to think about when creating a website. Analytics often gets lost in the mix or added right before launch. And even when the analytics is integrated, reports are glanced at but seldom acted upon.
As daunting as it may seem, developing site goals and a measurement plan, which is a document that translates your business objectives into metrics, should be one of the first things on your list. Using analytics to A/B test pages and measure user interaction can give you a massive amount of information on what is stopping users from clicking that “Buy” or “Sign up” button.
If You Can’t Measure It, You Can’t Improve It.
We recently launched a website that wasn’t 100% complete. It was a beta release, which is pre-release that launches to a large group of users under real conditions. Beta versions have gone through a round of in-house testing. They are generally close in look, feel and function to the final product.
After launching we monitored the analytics daily. We quickly found where users were dropping off from the intended flow. Where pages were slow and which pages had high bounce rates needing optimization. We also found a few surprises along the way. Though mobile accessibility trends are only rising, we felt that the site was still going to be primarily accessed through the desktop. How wrong we were. Roughly 40% percent of the site’s users were using mobile or tablet.
Using analytics tests not only the site but also designers and developers assumptions. If we hadn’t used analytics to test our theories then we would have gone on our way thinking we were right.
Analytics can be validating but also humbling.
There might be times when it doesn’t make sense to have a beta release. For example, if you’re launching something in a space where there are a lot of people trying to do something similar. However, one of the benefits of launching an incomplete version is that it creates distance. Instead of feeling protective over a perfect product. Using analytics as a testing tool to learn from a beta release makes it easier to change things continuously, iteratively and more efficiently. You’ll get a better product in a shorter amount of time.
When you launch a website and capture metrics, you’ll find it’s not the end but the beginning. It’s not enough to glance at your analytics from time to time. It needs to be acted upon. If you aren’t measuring, it’s impossible to test and improve.