Letting Google Analytics help make design decisions

Back in my print designer days, I was always so curious whether the pieces I had designed were well received; how was it used, did someone find it useful and informative? Other than sitting down with individuals and asking them, it was nearly impossible to get answers to these questions.

Now, 13 years later, focusing on user interface design, I am afforded the luxury of knowing more about what I design by way of Web-based statistical and analytical tools. Specifically, we have moved to embracing Google Analytics as one of our primary measurement tools here at Scheffey. In addition to Google providing an accurate and functional application, it has also shaped the way I think about what I design and the best course of action to meet a specific goal.

For example, the Strasburg Rail Road Web site, sees an enormous amount of traffic. A large enough sampling to really be able to look at data to determine when a small design change had an impact on ticket sales. We’ve learned that “event” driven information seems to encourage longer and deeper visits into the site. By looking at internal promotional links on the site and how they drive more visitors to the online purchase screens, we can make better decisions on how to motivate user purchase tickets online.

We also took time to look at exit rates on the home page and determined that by including a schedule calendar on the home page, we dramatically increased the number of visitors to interior pages of the site and extended the average length of stay on the site.

This isn’t the only tool or technique that we use to better understand how visitors are reacting to the site’s design. But it is one of the better options available to determining the best course of action and whether it was effective.