What users do (and how to measure it)

Justin Cutroni

Wisdom from J Cutroni

I like the new guy at Google Analytics youtube channel. Justin Cutroni is his name and Analytics Advocacy is his game.   His videos are short, to the point and entice me to dig deeper into the concepts of surrounding analytics.  He makes the complex simple.  Here is his short and sweet definition of analysis:

“Analysis is simply identifying things that are happening on your website.”

Once you identify them.  You can make a judgement between ‘good things’ and ‘bad things.  Accentuate the good things and eliminate the bad. The game of making the web a better place is really simple, when you think about it this way.

Justin’s simple style is refreshing.  He reminds me of MegaMan of Internet Marketing, Seth Godin.  Purple Cow, Big Red Fez, Linchpin, Stop Stealing Dreams.   Back in 2005 he wrote a pamphlet titled ‘Knock Knock’ where he listed the most important ‘things that are happening on your website’:

Seth Godin

Wisdom from Seth

A website can cause only for things to happen in the moments after someone sees it:

  • She clicks and go somewhere else you want her to go.
  • She clicks and gives you permission to follow-up by e-mail or phone.
  • She clicks and buys something.
  • She tells a friend, either by clicking or by blogging or phoning or talking.

C’mon Seth!  Only 4 things happening on a site.  And three of them all of them involve clicking. This got me to thinking.

Are there a finite number of things that can happen on a web site? Is that number manageable?  Is it the key to analysis?  Other that clicking, we’ve got scrolling, reading, er… typing.

Wisdom from Newman

Newman’s List of What Users do on websites:

  • leave right away
  • click
  • nothing
  • scroll
  • type
  • Move the mouse

Let’s  look at each of these in turn.

Leave right away: this is called a bounce and is the bread-and-butter of beginning analytics learners. Bounce is easy to understand and it’s easy to hate. [highlight color=”yellow”]Bounce is the cartoon bad guy of web analytics[/highlight]. High bounce rate is bad. Low bounce rate is good. When something is so obvious I always wonder if there’s something more that I’m missing, but for the time being I will leave it.

Click: the cool thing about click is that it’s either toward your goal or away from your goal. It’s easy to measure with common tools like Inspectlet, ClickTale or other heat map tools.  I suppose a click could be neutral, neither toward or away from your intended goal.

Nothing: a user could sit on a page for minutes.  What’s going on on the other side of the screen? We hope that they are reading or in some way engaged in our content. They could be Away from Keyboard, or watching another tab or window or watching “Game of Thrones”. It’s hard to tell using common remote UX tools. We like to use time on site as a measure of engagement, but these ‘do-nothing users’ make me question the time on site number.

Scroll: scroll means that users are reading or searching for something to read or click. We know that they are not AFK.  Currently, the screen captures like Inspectlet / ClickTale are the only [?] ways to capture this user behavior. I wonder if Google analytics or other packages can or will measure this?

Type: here is another behavior that proves the user is on the page and engaged. But how do you measure it? (other than video)

Move the mouse: this is a lot like doing nothing but it does mean that they are watching that window. Some people move the mouse as they read. I catch myself doing it  and I’ve seen it on Inspectlet videos. How do you measure it? Other than Inspectlet videos I’m not sure.

Final thoughts on Web Analytics and What users do:

I do think analysis can be simplified. It really is about what users are doing. Like Seth Godin says, there are a finite number of ways a user can interact with the website.  The process seems straightforward. Figure out what those interactions on your site are and measure them.  Determine which are ‘good’ and which are ‘bad’. Tweak your site to support the good and deny the bad.

Boom. Wisdom. Yer done.

… Well, I’m not done.  I’m hoping to dive into these topics in the future, as I follow the path of analytics enlightenment. And, your not done.  Leave a comment and let me know if I’m on target or way off base.

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