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Getting Started with Analytics for UX

Approaching web analytics as a new user can be daunting because of the complexity of the tools. There’s no one right way to do it, but a good way is to have problems to solve or a question that needs to be answered.

Integrating analytics into our user experience practice started with the need to get clear answers to specific questions. We had questions like “How many users will we alienate if we optimize this site for a 1024 by 768 screen resolution?” which is the less open-ended version of “What screen resolution should we use to optimize our site?” (The answer, it turns out, is “all of them”).

There’s a clear answer in the Google Analytics’ Visitors > Technology > Browser & OS report. Or, at least, as clear as anything gets when you deal with anything as messy as user behavior.

Another good initial analytics/UX question is “How many of our site visitors are using a mobile device?” This is a better way of asking “Should we invest in a mobile site right now?” (The answer is “yes” and you may want to focus on designing the mobile version first, before the desktop version). Google Analytics makes this easy, through the Visitors > Mobile > Overview report.

Neither of these questions lead to terribly deep insights, but that’s the point of your first few forays into web analytics. Take a little time to get accustomed to the interface of your analytics tool and to ask the sorts of questions that analytics can actually answer. That’s why it’s good to start small and get some early wins. Have fun!

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