Using Analytics to Understand User Segments

I have experience working in both large companies (Fortune 300) and privately held smaller companies. A convenient truth about UX Design is this: Many rules apply regardless of company size.

It is not uncommon to have a responsive website that pulls double duty as a marketing website and a login-based service application. A UX Designers first goal should be understanding what the different user groups are and details about those individual groups.

In my experience, analytics are overlooked by many UX professionals. Numbers can be scary, however taking the time to understand how to use analytics software is key to providing professional advice to stakeholders who may lack understanding about what UX is, and why you are involved at the level you are in a project.

Setting up Analytics (I use Google Analytics) is very easy. Once you have placed the code onto your site, you can immediately start tracking high level details.

You may be asked by stakeholders what version of Internet Explorer are being used. You can easily learn the overall percentage of IE users and even the specific versions. Knowing that 98% of your IE users are using IE 11 can save hours for developers, as they can focus on using HTML 5/CSS 3 standards and not worry about the fringe cases.

Once you have Google Analytics set up, adding Tag Manager is a must. Tag Manager lets you know what events are happening within a webpage — allowing more granular understanding and tracking. It is as simple to set up on your site, however it does take some learning to set up individual events. However this time is an investment, as you can immediately start using Tag Manager to determine the users who come to your site and sign on to your application, and those who do not. Using this information, you can now split your traffic into segments: Current Customers and Potential Customers.

Instead of having an aggregate view of your users, you can now start seeing the information specific to each segment. For example, if your analytics show that 12% of your websites traffic is mobile, once you apply your segmentation, you realize that 35% of your traffic for Potential Customers are using mobile devices. That can push mobile design as a much higher priority for your Potential Customers (and maybe begs the question, ‘Why are they abandoning mobile devices for the application?’).

Once you have Google Analytics and Tag Manager set up, you can quickly obtain vast amounts of information that can be used for business, marketing, and development decisions. Additionally, creation of artifacts such as personas and journey maps can be created and refined by this information.

Excuses such as ‘I don’t like numbers’ should never be accepted. As a UX Designer, if you don’t have validation for recommendations, then you should drop the ‘UX’ from your title. Using analytics is one of the easiest way to understand your users and provide quantifiable metrics to support your decisions — and that helps business stakeholders begin to see the value of UX, as that is what they traditionally work with: numbers.