Data collection has been an integral aspect of user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) design for nearly as long as these terms have been around. In the world of big data and thriving e-commerce, using data platforms like Google Analytics to inform UI and UX is a must.
But why is data so valuable to UX decisions? Why does Google Analytics still play a huge role in defining website design?
Developing the best possible platform for user engagement and experience requires designers to have an awareness of how every design choice influences overall accessibility and enjoyment. Data makes this awareness possible.
Here, we explore how Google Analytics drives this process, now and in the past.
How Google Analytics Has Driven UI/UX
To fully understand the importance of Google Analytics in UI and UX decision making, it is important to first understand the evolution of data collection and analytics.
Businesses have been collecting and analyzing consumer information in order to make better decisions since at least the 1950s. The next stage in data processing, however, did not happen until the mid-2000s. This occurred when tech giants like Google and Facebook began to collect and analyze information at a scale never before conceived. These new insights were dubbed “big data” and they serve to inform all kinds of human behaviors.
It was during this period that Google pushed out its Analytics program. This handy dashboard was made available to a broad base of internet users in 2006. Since then, it has come to dominate as the most popular analytics tool on the market.
Because UX design is so inherently dependent on understanding the ways in which users interact with a digital platform, Google Analytics has also become a primary tool for UX research. User design professionals can freely study Google Analytics for important user engagement metrics, from timing to bounce rate.
Google Analytics is also valuable in UI/UX design due to its ability to report in real-time. This means any changes to the interface can show a noticeable effect on content traffic and conversion rates, for better or worse. If a designer changes a font size, for example, and bounce rates go up, it’s likely that change was a poor UX decision.
Data offers this kind of transparency and adaptability. Google Analytics offers data. But using it effectively requires knowing where to look.
How to Use Google Analytics to Improve UX
Google Analytics offers a wide variety of metrics you can track. Improving your user experience to maximize these metrics, however, takes experimentation and critical thinking. How could layout be contributing to poor conversion rates and pageviews? There are many potential answers. Google Analytics simply points out where to look.
To start, UX designers need to understand what metrics will best serve their purposes. Here are a few data points to keep an eye on:
- Audience — details demographics of users engaging with your site
- Average Time on Page — shows how long audiences spend on each page of your site
- Bounce Rate — shows how many users landed on a page then left without interacting
- Behavior — details the activities and pathing of a user from landing to links
- Pageviews — shows the number of users visiting the site
Each of these metrics can tell a compelling story about the user experience if analyzed critically. For example, if a page has a high number of views but low conversion rates, it’s likely the UX isn’t compelling enough to direct a user towards a purchase. Additionally, mobile compatibility can be a big challenge in UX terms. Mobile bounce rates can demonstrate problems and direct the designer towards mobile UX training for better solutions.
A UX designer can learn a lot from combing through Google Analytics insights with an empathetic approach to design. By putting themselves in the shoes of their audience, these designers are better positioned to answer all kinds of questions, such as whether the website is easy to use and navigate. If the answer is no, then a necessary redesign will most likely drive all your Google Analytics metrics up.
Adding logic to what is so often the subjective task of UX design enables all kinds of possibilities. With the benefits this can bring to business performance, a data-driven UI is more important than ever.
The Importance of Data-Driven Design
In the constantly evolving digital world, search functions are always updating. The Google algorithm undergoes around 1,000 updates every year, with larger ones affecting the performance of certain websites. The June 2020 update, for example, downgraded the results for many B2B companies.
Seeing these changes clearly within the data allows UX professionals to adjust to new norms and changing algorithms. This can improve business performance at a time when economic uncertainty makes it necessary for businesses to do more than just survive.
Google Analytics provides myriad ways to approach your website’s interface. Make use of this data as often as possible to inform a better design approach, from color scheme to structure.