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Redesigning a Website? Consult Analytics

21st July 2011
GWS Team

Last week we wrote a post with 3 Tips for Redesigning a Website, which focused on the kinds of things to bare in mind from a design perspective.

As a follow up to that, we thought it might be useful to go through some key areas to analyse more thoroughly using a web traffic reporting system such as Google Analytics.

Approaching a website redesign needs to be about the aesthetic appeal of the site and branding, in tandem with thoughts about usability.

We stressed the need for clarity in a redesign last week, but looking at Google Analytics data can offer come invaluable insights into how visitors are using your existing site, and therefore key areas to target for improvement.

While the following points don't attempt to cover everything you might want to consider, they should present a useful start in thinking about what insights about a website's functionality you can take on board when considering an improved design.


1. Bounce Rate.

This concerns the percentage of visitors who enter a site and then leave, or bounce, rather than progressing to other pages within the site.

The bounce rate is an important figure to look at because it indicates the number of people immediately rejecting a site, and therefore how well your site is engaging with visitors and how quickly it is getting its message across.

A high proportion of visitors leaving immediately can suggest that it isn't appealing or it isn't immediately apparent what the site is about.

If your site's bounce rate is above about 40%, have a look at how the message of your business or service is being communicated on the site.

A redesign could address the prominence of your message.

(Other areas to look at which can indicate similar issues that need improving are the time spent on a site and visitor loyalty - if visitors are spending short sessions on a site - especially if it has an online shop - and are not returning - again, important for an online shop - that might indicate your website is not delivering the right information quickly enough.)


2. Top Exit Pages.

Looking at the pages from which visitors leave the site is a potentially useful exercise.

If a site is doing what it should be, visitors should be leaving on the page which represents the end of their journey (the 'Contact Us' page, or a confirmed purchase page).

If they are leaving before they get to these pages, especially if it is on a page of the site that is most important to what the website is communicating ('Our Services', or registration pages for an online shop), then you need to consider what is making them leave and how best to keep them on the site.

This might be adding more information, or altering the navigation to keep the flow of the journey, or even thinking about how to make an online purchase as straightforward as possible.


3. Keywords.

Although Google's Webmaster Tools generally has more information about keywords where your website is visible, Google Analytics has useful information on what keywords are used to find your site and then actually visit it, the popularity of the keyword (the number of visits it generates), number of pages visited, average time on site, % of new visits and bounce rate.

This wealth of information gives a good idea of how the site is matching up to certain expectations.

If a search term that you consider key to your business is receiving poor figures for any of these categories, you need to look at the site to see why its content isn't delivering in relation to this aspect of your business.

If you're adding new content or areas in a website redesign, it might be useful to see what words and phrases your site is already being found under and if there is a way you can capitalise on that.


4. In-page Analytics.

In some ways the most useful tool of all for anyone considering a redesign is the in-page analytics offered as part of Google Analytics, which allows you to look at each page of the site and monitor the number of clicks by visitors on the areas of the page, as well as additional statistics for each page (bounce rate, % of visitors entering and exiting on the site, etc.).

This detailed analysis give a clearer picture of the usability of your current site, and flags up any existing problems: unclear navigation (if visitors aren't clicking on an important page from the home page), specific pages which aren't working, specific pages which are and what visitors to the site respond to and show an interest in.

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