How to Approach a Redesign with Digital Analytics in Mind
At Viget we do a lot of redesign work. The analytics team informs and supports our redesign project teams in the initial strategy and design phase with a focus on data-driven design and development. It’s also our job, however, to get our clients interested and excited about post-launch analytics.
To get the most out of analytics, it’s helpful to have a framework to follow: Plan, Implement Tracking, and Act…the PITA model. Using PITA to think about analytics with the right mindset before a project even starts will establish appropriate expectations for a team to help get the most out of a redesign in the long run. Let me explain in more detail:
It’s easy to get caught up in your organization’s day-to-day procedures, but it’s worthwhile to occasionally take a step back. Now take another step. Begin with a broad view of your organization as a whole. Don’t focus on the present hangups; think about your organization’s key business goals. For example: Do you want more notoriety among a target audience? Are you looking to attract more users via content marketing? Do sales need to increase by a certain amount?
Now, take the time to translate these business goals into digital goals. Think about the digital steps of a user’s journey that will contribute to those business goals. We live in a day and age where we can measure a wide swath of a user’s experience online, so think about the detailed steps you’d like to measure when possible. Granted, some goals may not have a digital component (and that’s ok!), but do your best to identify the most digitally significant user behaviors.
Keep in mind that a redesign is also an opportunity to start fresh with your analytics strategy. Examine your current process of using data to make decisions. What’s working? What challenges do you currently face in either finding insights or driving change? Along the same lines, take the time to review past data. What is helpful, and what is noise? What is missing? Use the inertia of change in a redesign to fuel a renewed approach to analytics.
Update or establish new Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to revisit after launch. Ideally, you’d have a short-term period of a month or so to see how visitor behavior has changed immediately after launch, as well as a long-term period to compare results over the next few months. Discuss reporting with the team. In many cases, ongoing reporting helps to keep the team accountable for initial goals. However, if you’re planning to do ongoing reporting, schedule recurring meetings with the necessary parties to actually discuss reporting that can be used to implement actual change. Reporting just for the sake of reporting doesn’t do anyone any favors.
Choose the types of tools you’ll need based on your team and project needs, for example:
- General Visitor Behavior - Google Analytics
- Visual Heatmapping - Crazy Egg or Clicktale
- A/B Testing - Optimizely
- Customer Intelligence - Mixpanel or KISSmetrics
- Social Monitoring – Find a social tool using SocialPiq (we've enjoyed NUVI and SocialBakers)
Once you’ve chosen the appropriate tools, decide who will actually be using those tools. If it’s your internal team, make sure they’ve received the proper training and are familiar with reporting methods. If you’re hiring an outside party for help, make sure they have appropriate experience and ask for previous work if possible.
Use the inertia of change in a redesign to fuel a renewed approach to analytics.
Set up tracking the right way the first time. We often find that poor initial implementation of analytics is a huge obstacle to using and finding actionable insights based on data. Take the time to do it right yourself or hire someone who knows how. Making decisions based on flawed data is a recipe for disaster.
QA is an integral part of the process. Make sure to check that the tracking implementation is working correctly on all major browsers and devices. For example, if you have a sizable mobile audience and there’s a tracking issue on iPhones, you’re going to miss out on a huge part of your audience.
Clear communication between involved parties is key. Development and marketing teams should be able to work in tandem to complete tasks effectively. Almost every tracking solution has some sort of technical component, so collaboration is key to collecting accurate data.
Once analytics are in place, familiarize yourself with the data. Are you collecting everything you thought you were? Will the current analytics structure allow your team to make real change?
Once you’ve collected enough data, it’s time to analyze and act. Review your data and take a look at the KPIs you established earlier. How is the site performing compared to expectations in the “Plan” stage? Once you’ve gathered all appropriate information, decide what changes should be made (or at least tested).
Depending on the changes needed, A/B testing can be an enormous help. Are you looking to change the position, message, and look of a CTA? Want to substitute a primary navigation link? This is the time to put your money where your mouth is and set up a test. Nothing settles a healthy debate like statistics. For a simple and solid testing service, consider Optimizely.
Now that you’ve made changes based on data, it’s time to monitor how changes are performing. Are they yielding the expected return?
Finally, reflect on the process and look for ways to make it better. Discuss what went well and what didn’t. There are likely areas of improvement for analytics. In fact, if you don’t see any, you’re not looking hard enough. Once you’ve acted, it’s time to go back to the PITA model and renew the cycle.
Ultimately, it’s imperative to get a team excited and thinking about analytics in the appropriate way before a project begins - to give them a solid framework to follow throughout a project. The PITA model helps a team get started on the right foot and get the most out of analytics during a redesign and afterwards.
For some other thoughts on digital measurement check out: