Guest post: Understanding the visitor experience for your website

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new life painting
The New Life Painting website. Learn how you can use analytics and unbiased human testing to evaluate your website redesign’s effectiveness

I rarely accept guest posts because most “guests” have ulterior and self-serving SEO (search engine optimization) goals and are playing around to cheat Google’s algorithms.  Below, a rare exception, because the information here will be relevant to readers seeking to rebuild and improve their websites.

By Noah Winkles

At New Life Painting, we’re firm believers in using tools to help us make informed decisions about our online presence. Recently, we updated the look and feel of our website and wanted to know how these changes impacted the experience we were providing to our visitors. Here are the reports, metrics and tools we used to help us gain insight into these changes:

1. Bounce Rate

To help us understand how our online and offline activity is leading to new visitors, leads and sales, we use Google Analytics. Bounce rate can be defined as the percentage of visitors who only visited a single page.

bounce rate

For some pages on our website like our blog posts, a high bounce rate can be expected. For other pages, a high bounce rate can indicate that a visitor isn’t finding the information they’re looking for. Because we’ve made an annotation in our analytics reports, we can compare time periods to help us understand how our bounce rate has changed.

2. Goal Completions

In Google Analytics, goals can be set up to track desired visitor interactions. We use goals to track estimate requests and phone calls. Goal tracking helps us understand which marketing channels are bringing in qualified traffic.

With our new website design, questions we needed answers to included:

  • Have we effectively communicated who we are, what we do and why we matter?
    Has our new design led to an increase or decrease in conversions – or neither?

3. Pages/session

In Google Analytics, Pages/Session is defined as the average number of pages viewed during a session.  Based on previous data, we know that on average would expect that our website visitors landing on the homepage or other pages would view more than one page on our website.

4. Mobile

New_Life_Painting_Mobile_Friendly

In May of 2015 Google announced that there were more searches on mobile devices than on desktop. This announcement was representative of a huge shift in how consumers are searching for information online. During our website redesign, we knew our website not only had to be mobile friendly, but also provide a good visitor experience for visitors across all devices.

We started with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool to make sure our new design was considered mobile friendly.

After our new design, we filtered our desktop and mobile visitors by using pre-defined advanced segments in Google Analytics and looked for any significant changes in behavior.

bounce rate

5. Avg. Session Duration

This Google Analytics metric helps us understand how long, on average a session is lasting or how much time visitors are spending on our landing pages. This metric can be especially useful for analyzing how long visitors are spending on the blog content you publish.

Here’s an example of a post that we getting a notable amount of organic search traffic, but had an incredibly low avg. session duration.

After taking a close look at the post and analyzing the keywords that were driving traffic, we decided to rewrite the article to better align with searcher intent. The result was a 281.34% MoM (Month-over-Month) increase in the average amount of time visitors spent on the post.

6. Unbiased Feedback

During the redesign, we continuously asked our team and friends to provide feedback on the new design. While we valued the input, we also were looking for unbiased feedback.

We utilized a free tool called Peek User Testingwhich offers a five-minute video of a person visiting your site and providing feedback.

Peek_User_Testing

Here’s a link to our video to provide you with an idea of the type of feedback you can expect to receive. You can request your own video here.

Using Google Analytics and other tools and reports, we were able to evaluate how these changes to our website affected visitor behavior.

Noah Wrinkles
Noah Winkles

Have you gone through a site redesign? If so, what tools and reports did you use?

Noah Winkles is the vice-president of New Life Painting. For more than 35 years, New Life Painting has provided quality craftsmanship and outstanding customer service to residents and business owners in California’s Central Coast. New Life Painting was recognized with the 2014 Angie’s List Super Service Award. Learn more about New Life Painting by visiting Houzz.

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