Understanding How Your Users Navigate Your Site

We all have the best of intentions when doing most things and websites are no different. When creating an ongoing plan for how your site will function, from design and content to how you try to get users to contact you, there are often a set of directives or goals for the site to achieve.

Typically, people who are creating a website for their business approach it from what they think works best and how they would envision themselves flowing through the site. Website marketing companies take a similar approach but usually try to combine what the site owner wants and what’s available in real-time search data to try and come up with the best approach.

In both cases, you’re typically making an educated guess on how your users will interact with the site. What I’m starting to see time and time again is a lack of following up on the goals that were initially set for the site. Sometimes that comes from focusing on what you WANT your users to do and not what they ACTUALLY do, so that is the focus of this article.

Using Analytics

Reviewing your website Analytics is the best place to start. I would suggest starting with the home page and then viewing sections of your site that either promote or sell the  product/service you offer. Looking at the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for each page should come first, so review items such as Sessions, Pageviews, Pages per Session, Bounce Rate and Average Session Duration to get a feel for how that page currently performs. Don’t forget to update the Date Ranges to view data for different seasons and Quarters depending on your type of service.

Reviewing the data for each page will help you determine how effective that page is in relation to the service/product you offer.

I would also recommend looking into areas such as Goal Completions (if you have any setup) and performance by Device to get a better feel for which devices are most popular and how they are used to view your site. I also suggest reviewing how Keywords are performing and being used to find your site, as you might be targeting something you think is correct, but not necessarily used by potential clients searching for you.

The only data that isn’t available is how each user interacts specifically with each page in regards to areas they view, areas they click, and how much of the page they view. To receive that information, we suggest using heatmapping software to see how users specifically interact with crucial parts of your website.

Using Heatmaps

The newest technology to use for reviewing user engagement is heatmapping. Heatmaps record specific user interactions on a given page using metrics for clicks, scrolls, and moves as well as providing reports for each device (desktop, tablet, and mobile).

This gives a fantastic visual representation of real-world user data on sections of your website. It offers the biggest benefit for determining things such as Navigation setup and link order, Call-to-Action placement, figuring out when most users stop scrolling, etc.

There are multiple software’s available for this, such as HotJar, Crazy Egg, and Lucky Orange. Since this technology is still relatively new, there are still a good amount of options for using this technology and we feel that combined with Analytics, it will help you get a great overall view of how current users are interacting with your website.

To summarize, you always want to use whatever tools you can to get the best understanding of your audience. A lot of business owners focus on the ideal user or situation and plan and, often stubbornly, don’t want to change their approach as it doesn’t fit the core approach they are attempting with the site. The better you understand how your users and potential clients use your website, the better you’ll be able to directly communicate with them and maximize the value of each website user.