I’ve always wanted to answer a few specific questions about the behavior of users on my website. But the answers that analytics tools gave me were always incomplete and unusable, usually coming from an outdated marketing perspective.
From an analytical or UX point of view, a website does not consist of users that interact with pages that have content. Instead, it consists of user segments that interact with templates (page types) that have elements or blocks of content (or content types, interactions, you name it) on them.
So I hope I can explain the types of analysis I want to make. Let me know if something is unclear or if it’s just wrong or already available right in front of me. Here’s my braindump:
Problem part 1: abstraction level in tracking
So I am dreaming of a tool that can do this:
- Track user segments by letting me segment after tracking based on variables like traffic source, behavior, etc. Google Analytics does a great job with their advanced segments.
Example: users coming from Google’s organic listings on queries containing the keyword “hotel”
- Track templates by grouping URL’s (with regexes, after tracking of course!) or by setting templates manually (before tracking) to avoid grouping problems. A site that has good SEO and information architecture almost by definition has a URL structure that does not convey the page type / template in the URL.
Examples: a category page, or a product page, or maybe a specific type of product page.
- Track elements, by looking at the HTML structure (DOM) and letting me define the elements / blocks that I want to track.
Example: the sidebar, or the block in the sidebar that contains the nearby hotels, or the 1st list item in the list of related hotels.
Problem part 2: useful analysis of behavior (click paths and correlations!)
Web analytics software is pretty good at segmenting users. But it’s too granular at the page (URL) level and largely ignores the elements on the pages. More granular things like custom variables and events in Google Analytics are connected to users, not to content and therefore cannot be analyzed in a useful way (i.e. in relation to eachother!).
So I want to analyze the effect templates and elements have on user behavior. Click paths are probably the main tool for this, but the element level analysis makes it a bit more complex. Some example questions I want to answer:
- What % of users from Google lands on the product page template instead of the category page or the homepage. Compare metrics on these 3 types of “userlandingpagetypes” 😉
- To which templates do these users go next, and which elements do they use to get there?
- Of the users that click a “nearby hotel”, how many click the first, second, n’th result? (I want to be able to drill down when I see something interesting)
- Of the users that land on a product page, which % used the keyword “hotel” in their query this month in comparison to last month?
- Of the people that end up seeing the booking page, how many have used the related hotels feature directly after they’ve landed, and how many used it later?
- What’s the conversion rate for each category on my site: how much overlap is there in user behavior (i.e. do they start in 1 and convert in another?)
Number 1 and 2 are already fine fo 80% of the important learning. the others are variations that you can of course broaden with tons of examples.
I think the perfect tool would let me visualize the 3 data types of tracking, and let me drag and drop them to create the relations between them that can then show me the metrics when I want to analyze the visualized “path”. Of course always giving the option to drill down to look deeper and make more specific analysis…
And as a bonus I would like to segment users on their interaction behavior on the templates and elements, but I’d like the software to do this with data mining. So give me examples of the effect a certain page element has on conversion for a certain group of users. And I guess we’re all drooling if we then let the website optimize itself based on these metrics, right?
Possible exising solutions and a mockup of my own
Of course, all of this is already possible. But the tools I have seen were not doing right. So let me know how you think I should use which tools to reach my goal of tracking on segment, template and and element-level. The closest I came was using Google Analytics’ custom variables for setting page templates. But they have several issues like the amount you can set (5, officially) and the fact that you can’t track e-commerce metrics with them.
I made a very low density mockup of what this tool could look like when you’re building reports, I wonder if it’s understandeable for anyone but me…