Designing Websites Using Analytics and Incremental Data

  • Krystal Davis 05-28-2020 Read time (6 min)

Designing Websites Using Analytics and Incremental Data

Modern website design technologies and approaches have come a long way in the past few years. Previously, clients would share requirements and designers would produce something that meets those requirements. Clients reviewed the drafts and initial versions, and suggested changes. The process continued until the designer could satisfy the client, and only when they had approval, did they build and launch the final website. Several iterations, lousy communication, unclear requirements, lower efficiency – this approach took time and had many flaws.

Clients weren’t sure of what they wanted in the first place, and designers often had trouble in translating their requirements into the actual website that was supposed to go live. What were the consequences? Abandoned websites. Unsatisfied clients often backed out at the last phase of the web design process. This wasted resources, time and money.

Newer website design approaches aim at removing these inefficiencies and hassles and try to improve the process for both the clients and the designer. Since then, web design has transformed significantly. The newer approaches are agile, based on effective project management methodologies like Scrum and Kanban. Rather than delivering everything together, designers deliver the entire project part by part, phase by phase. This keeps everyone involved, ensuring resources aren’t wasted.

Modern web design often involves an incremental, data based approach. Rather than wild guessing what clients want, designers often build appropriate prototypes based on their requirements. Once this prototype is finalized, they work on the real website, launching an initial version based on the minimum viable product approach or MVP. Over time, as users interact with the site, the performance is tracked, and necessary adjustments are made.

This is what it is like in theory. What’s the reality? As simple as the modern web design approach may sound, that is definitely not the case. New techniques have their own challenges, but the good thing is, there are certain ways to overcome these issues. Let’s first discuss problems with modern web design, and then we’ll review what can be done about it.

Understanding Modern Web Design Challenges

What does the modern web design approach rely on? Regularly monitoring the way in which users interact with a product or service, but unfortunately, this is never practiced. Why is that? Lack of time, money and energy. While everyone is aware of the benefits of usability testing, no one actually does it. Even if they do, it is at the very basic level. Reaching out to potential users, gathering them for testing and conducting the sessions takes time, too much of it– which usually people don’t have. So eventually, concerned products are not tested thoroughly.

And when designers do take pains to test, the stakeholders start creating issues arguing that the tests audience doesn’t meet their ideal buyer’s persona, the results aren’t statistically significant or are less meaningful.

So what’s the solution? If the usability testing isn’t as thorough as it should have been, turn to analytics for insights. Keep in mind that once the MVP version of the website is up and running, real users are interacting with it regularly. So monitor their behavior through key metrics, which should give you a good idea of the current website performance.

Website based analytics are simple to collect and are either updated in real time or fairly quickly. Thus, web design with data is the new, preferred approach.

Advantages of Web Design with Data

Get To Know Your Visitors Better
Web analytics provide location key information on your website users through which you can know them better. Accordingly, you can decide how to please and engage them ensuring that they spend time on your website.

Tweak the Offers
Analytics gives you an idea of your average user’s personality. Accordingly, you can modify your offerings and provide them the value they are looking for.

Understand Why Your Website Isn’t Doing Well
If your website is performing poorly, analytics will let you identify areas that are causing visitors to abandon your pages. You’ll know whether the problem is with the content, the CTA, the design or the navigation, and accordingly, you can make necessary changes.

Do Analytics Have a Problem as Well?

Analytics do provide meaningful insights, but if you can’t interpret them, they won’t be of any use. And usually that can be a problem, especially if you are a novice. Also, keep in mind that the default metrics like page views don’t really indicate user behavior. So they aren’t that helpful. What can you do to make analytics meaningful? Set up necessary events and funnels, and then track specific activities. This may seem like a time consuming process, but when the funnels are up and running, you can derive meaning from the numbers.

Another problem with traditional analytics is that they often raise more questions. And that can be kind of confusing or overwhelming. As an example, traditional analytics will tell you the average bounce rates on a particular page. But they won’t indicate why so many users are leaving the page.

Wait… You Thought Analytics Were Useful

Yes, analytics are useful, but not the traditional ones that you’re normally accustomed to. It’s the new generation of analytics tool that can provide insights at the same level as usability testing. Using them can give you a good idea of what your website performance is like, how users perceive it to be and what you can do for increasing lead generation and conversion rates.

What is FullStory?

FullStory is a newly launched analytics tool that works wonders. It records each and every session that any user has had on your website. So in other words, you can watch exactly how a particular user has interacted with your website. Sounds exciting, right? It sure is. But here’s the thing: when there are too many users on your website, seeing and monitoring individual sessions can be a pain. Plus, even if you could, the amount of information would be overwhelming. But this is something that FullStory has already taken care of. The tool features an amazing search function, so you can find the session that you want to view.

As an example, assume that your client thinks the new sign up button isn’t enticing enough or simply does not gel well with the rest of the design. But the client is not so concerned because they think that the button isn’t noticeable, simply because it is below the fold. Really, is that so? Find out with FullStory. Set up the search with the exact same parameters. And if the button is really not a problem, you should be able to view a stream of videos that shows it is doing just fine. Want to add more credibility to the results? Plot some graphs and charts to prove the same.

With FullStory, you don’t just get information about areas where the web design requires improvement, but you also save hours in trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t. And of course, there are no arguments as well because the stakeholders, clients and web designers can clearly see website elements that are performing.

Compared to Google Analytics, FullStory is our preferred choice. For starters, the tool records DOM, so there is no need to set up specific event handlers, which increases convenience at your end. That means you only specify the id or the CSS selector of the web element. On the other hand, Google Analytics only tracks interaction after an event handler has been added. However, with FullStory, you just need to specify a CSS Selector and that is it. The tool will track historical interaction as well, giving you a fairly good idea.

Thus, with FullStory, you can track whatever interaction the user had with your website and when they had that interaction.

Fixing Bugs

What other features does FullStory offer? It resolves bugs effectively! FullStory inspects the code on your behalf and shows you where bugs are located. And if you want, you can even integrate it with customer support tools like ZenDesk. As an example, think of a user complaining of a bug. Now search for their session on your website using FullStory, and then view the accompanying video. The tool also lets you review the underlying code so you can pinpoint where the problem actually lies.

In a nutshell, FullStory combines data analytics and usability testing impressively well. That being said, remember that though the tool can never completely replace usability testing, it still does make modern website design easier and more convenient. Hence, the tool is highly recommended!

Follow our blog regularly for more great advice on web design with data!

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