Jul
8
2014

Getting website analytics to the next level

Web managers understand the value of having website analytics and analyse them to make decisions about restructuring content or their website in general. As the University Website Programme is keen on delivering more information to enhance understanding about web visitors’ behaviour and interaction with the University’s websites, we are trying to take as much advantage as possible of the modern web analytics tools. This led us to implement and embed Google Analytics Event Tracking on Polopoly websites.

Google Analytics is a service well known to University web publishers. All websites under the *.ed.ac.uk domain have been tracked using GA since December 2008, resulting in tons of useful information regarding website visitor behaviour. UWP has been providing, and will continue to provide, regular training and support to raise awareness of how to use these tools and analyse the data in the best possible way. As well as delivering data for web page visits, Google provides specialised methods to use and enhance the overall analytics experience and datasets, one of which is event tracking. This service can be used by developers to track user interaction with web page elements, including clicks and mouse-overs.

As Polopoly CMS, which is currently used to deliver the core University website, is quite a closed system which doesn’t allow changes to the core website code to support event tracking, another solution had to be found to implement event tracking. This was achieved by using the jQuery library which tracks page links and applies the HTML ‘onClick‘ attribute to intervene before the load request and send data to Google to be saved. Even though all this might sound a bit technical, the important conclusion is that there will not be any visual or functional changes for the end user.

A good number of common web visitor interactions will be tracked through this new service, enabling web mangers to find out about:

  • Which links are been clicked on most frequently on each page including navigation, emails and links to other websites
  • Which files are have been downloaded and how many times
  • How far down visitors are scrolling through pages

This information will lead web managers to understand better visitor interaction within web pages; this will allow them to evaluate page content and structure. For example, an important file could be placed further towards the upper fold of a page if it is proven that most people are not scrolling down enough to view the link and download it, or a website could be restructured to make some pages more prominent if analysis shows that navigation links are not popular enough.

This new service will be launched later this month accompanied with support guidance and will be communicated through email notifications.

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