Articles written in April, 2010

April 20 2010

Hey Google! Delete these five Google Analytics reports!

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Cleaning house and purging old items is very hard to do. Shirts that you haven’t worn in years are tough to throw away, and the new pair of skis that you bought ten years ago and used only once are seemingly impossible to get rid of. But your wife or husband eventually talks you in to doing it, because you know it’s for the greater good, and you’ll have more free space (for more old t-shirts!).

As great as Google Analytics is, there are some reports and features within the interface that just take up space. They are hardly ever used and they cause more confusion than anything.

As much as it pains me to say this, Google needs to purge some reports from Google Analytics. There are cobwebs forming and a thick layer of dust is collecting on top of these reports, and it’s time to donate them to those in need. This will make Google Analytics even more awesome than it already is (yes, it’s possible to make it more awesome).

Hey Google! I think that you should get rid of these five reports:

1. Top Exit Pages. This report shows the pages where visitors leave your site. I can’t remember the last time I’ve looked at this report other than to tell someone that they shouldn’t use this report. Think about it: your web site’s visitors must leave your site at some point in time – they can’t stay on your site 24/7. Eventually, they will have to exit the site, and since most traffic you get is usually on your home page, a logical deduction is that most traffic will leave from your home page. What actions or insights can you take from this report? Struggling to answer? That’s a good sign that this report isn’t so valuable anymore.

2. Service Providers. In the visitors report section, there are a few reports that could be eliminated today and it wouldn’t affect me one bit. One of those is the service providers report, within the network properties sub-section. Do we really need to know which internet service providers (ISP) visitors are using to access your site? Is there some change that you can make on your site if your AT&T service provider traffic has a slightly higher bounce rate than your Comcast cable service provider traffic? I don’t think so.

3. Goal Abandoned Funnels. The metric is useful, but the report is not so much. This report is a simple histogram which doesn’t add any additional insight beyond the metric itself. This metric could simply be available on the goals overview report, or available as a metric option in the trending graph. Since we’re cleaning house, this report can get swept away.

4. Navigation Summary. The sheer volume of confusion behind how this report works is a big reason for my request to have this report removed from the interface. I’m by no means advocating the removal of anything difficult or not 100% crystal clear, but this report has a few long-standing issues that severely limit its functionality. Therefore, do we really need it? Would your analysis life be any different if it wasn’t around? Probably not. If you use it as an important piece of your reporting, well, let’s talk it over :).

5. Site Overlay. By far, this is the one that pains me the most to want to get rid of. I love the site overlay report concept, but I don’t love the site overlay report functionality. Like navigation summary, there are long-standing issues with it and it doesn’t seem to clearly work in a web 2.0 world. Again, I ask myself if this report ceased to exist, how hard it would affect me? The answer is that it would barely scratch my surface, so there you go.

There you have it – five reports that could be removed to spruce up the place, remove clutter, and not affect your phenomenal daily Google Analytics life.

April 12 2010

Before you launch, test, test, and test again!

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Last week I noticed that the Wells Fargo / Wachovia branch right outside of MoreVisibility’s offices were installing a new ATM machine. By looks alone, it’s a huge improvement from what Wells Fargo / Wachovia originally had. This new ATM machine has LED lighting, a new and improved user-interface and clearer, bigger buttons that a customer can press.

Today, I used the new ATM machine to make a deposit and noticed a unique and refreshing call-to-action: Envelope-free ATM. I had heard about this new technology a few years ago, but never actually saw one in person until earlier this afternoon.

To make a deposit, you simply slide up to 50 bills or 30 checks through the slot on the right-hand side, and watch the ATM tally up your money. If you deposit cash, the screen will provide a break down by denomination. If you deposit checks, you are given the option to print an image of each check with your receipt. The funds are available instantly with cash and on the same business day for checks deposited before 8 PM.

I thought this was amazing and immediately told everyone within my general vicinity about it. I’m also blogging about it here. I’ll probably also use Twitter and update my Facebook status. All it took was one great user-experience for Wells Fargo / Wachovia to earn themselves some excellent (and free) word-of-mouth advertising offline and on social media channels by yours truly.

Clearly, the Wells Fargo / Wachovia team put in a good amount of time, work and testing during the product’s development cycle, and I am a happier customer for it.

You may be wondering what this has to do with analytics or site usability. A lesson you could learn from my recent ATM experience is that you’ll need to put in time – lots of time – and put in lots of testing and experiments when you launch a new site, develop a new app, or release a new product online. When you hit a home run, the customer satisfaction and word-of-mouth takes care of itself (and as you know, word spreads ultra-fast online). However, when the time, work and especially the testing isn’t done before hand, that’s when the negative feedback, customer dis-satisfaction and angry message board posts start popping up everywhere. It’s very difficult to cancel-out negative comments and do online PR. Let pre-product launch testing results guide your new app, web site or product.

There are always free online tools like Google Website Optimizer and 4Q by iPerceptions to use to gauge customer sentiment before flipping on the proverbial light switch on your new release. Give them a try and let your audience feedback guide you in the right direction.

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