Beantin

James Royal-Lawson

Analytics

12 Articles worth reading… (Spotted: Week 8-9, 2011)

This time, a collection of links (and summaries) including articles related to:Web management, UX, intranets, SEO and web analytics.


Web strategy, Web management & UX

Situational Design for the Web

Responsive web design is all the rage, and rightly so – you can do some incredibly useful things with media queries and user-agent detection. But in this article Alex Dawson, at least in part, argues against a pure, one web *shall* fit all, solution and instead advocates custom solutions for each situation – with design, structure and content that fits each situation best.

Mobile Content Is Twice as Difficult

Even though “Responsive web design” is an excellent way of dealing with different screen (and viewport) sizes, there’s a growing amount of research showing that for significantly different screen sizes, adjusting the design isn’t enough – content (and even navigation and calls to action) need to be customised/optimised for the type of device. Per Axbom pointed out to me this post from 2009 suggesting developing Mobile first.

Why Hover Menus Do Users More Harm Than Good

I’ve seen this in testing and user observations many times. Hover menus are tricky beasts and cause a number of problems. I’m generally not a fan – especially, as on corporate sites, they are often just a bi-product of content-bloat.

Introducing Recipie View, based on rich snippets markup

Google has introduced a “recipes” filter, which includes options to filter further by ingredient, cooking time and number of calories. This has been implemented using microformats. Google enourages you to implement a number of these formats; you should – they’re not encouraging you just for a laugh: Rich Snippets documentation


Intranet

Social #Intranets: Silos, Culture and Moderation

Great post by Jonathan outlining a number of realistic points to take in and take on board concerning social intranets

Intranet Strategy: Shaping the future of your intranet

At the IntraTeam Event Copenhagen 2011 a show of hands indicated that just a handful of the delegates had an intranet strategy. Although still not the case for every website, it’s increasingly common that companies and organisations have strategies in place for them. Intranet’s are lagging behind in this respect. This is Sam’s presentation from the conference.


Search engine optimisation & analytics

Social media and SEO massively undervalued: study

Lots of lovely number in this post that compares measuring conversions with the conventional “last touch” attribution model with “assisted conversions” (where all channels that assisted in the conversion receive credt) and “attributed conversions” (where all channels receive a share of the conversion proportional to how many times the channel featured). Conclusion? Basing your spending on the last channel used before conversion may not be the smartest way of allocating your budget.

Site Speed – Are You Fast? Does it Matter?

Some nice geeky data showing the impact of page speed on ranking. It isn’t, of course, a major factor – as the post says, getting a few backlinks will make a much bigger difference than speeding up your page – but, slow page load times impacts on conversations – people are impatient. You should always aim to make your page as fast as you can reasonably acheive.

User-Friendly SEO

What’s good for humans is usually good for search engines, but it’s crucial to get the execution right. Much of SEO is just good web management. The real optimisation is in making sure it’s done exactly right.

Google Bounce Rates: The Untold Story

Not so much “untold” as “not told often enough”. Bounce rate is frequently misunderstood – as are many of the seemingly easy-to-understand terms and phrases within Google Analytics and web analytics in general.

Seven reasons to use lists in blog posts

A list giving reasons why lists are good. Leading by example. In addition to Shel’s seven reasons, lists are very shareable – which also means they gets linked, which also means they are good for not only generating trafic, but also SEO.


Tools

Just another test text generator

I always enjoy finding tools for generating random text that isn’t Lorem Ipsum. This one has some serious configuration options, including specifying specific languages (yes, Swedish is one of them).

13 Articles worth reading… (Spotted: Week 6-7, 2011)

This time, a collection of links (and summaries) including articles related to: Social media and social search, web strategy and web management, Optimisation, usability testing and Eye tracking.


Social media & social search

Google Search Finally Going Fully Social With Shared Twitter Links And Even Quora Data

More Google (social) search news. Adding “shared” information to SERPs is a sensible way of making use of open data. It’s basically recommendations for search results. As I’ve written about, certain results shared by certain people (or combinations of people) seem to get a bump up your (personalised) search results.

How To Target Social Tribes On Facebook

Pressing the right psychological buttons is always centre to marketing, but the ease at which you can tribalise a brand varies a lot from sector to sector and product to product.


Web strategy & web management

Erase and rewind

The BBC is going to close and remove a number of old websites. This has generated an interesting and worthy debate about historical content and how it should be archived rather than destroyed. The cost (and difficulty) of keeping such archived content is hardly worth mentioning. The similarity has been raised between this wiping policy and the same one the BBC had for video tapes back in the 60s and 70s – resulting in programmes and performances being lost forever.

Are marketing images damaging your website?

Banners that don’t match the task a visitor is trying to complete and “filler” marketing images and being shown time and time again to be either ignored, or as Gerry points out there – even detrimental to the trustworthiness of a site and the chances of goal completion. Worth re-reading this Nielsen Alertbox article too

Linking Google Analytics to Webmaster Tools

A long awaited improvement. I’m of the opinion now that even if you are running another statistics gathering script on your page, you probably should make sure GA is there too.

How to read the RSS feed of any Facebook page

Cross-feeding updates from one social media site to another, or back to your corporate website is an increasingly important aspect of a web presence. For some organisations (such as Swedish Councils) archiving these updates is a requirement. Pulling out status updates from a Facebook page as an RSS web feed is possible, but how you do it is not widely known. This post explains how.


Information architecture

Guide to Website Navigation Design Patterns

A good quick overview of a number of navigation design patterns. Be careful with some of the drawbacks though, as some of them aren’t fundamental drawbacks of the particular navigation type. The Bible for anyone interested in this subject is James Kalbach’s Designing Web Navigation.


Intranet & Collaboration

The Social Business Employee Manifesto

Here’s another manifesto – from May last year – outlining the ground rules for the business employee relationship in the era of social business.

Why Yammer Failed

A little intranet story showing again how important it is to have management buy in. At the end of the day, someone above you can stamp on pretty much anything they want should they want to – no matter how well planned, justified, and implemented.


Optimisation, Usability testing & eye tracking

Appsumo reveals its A/B testing secret: only 1 out of 8 tests produce results

Not every A/B test will give you a strong result, as this article explains you might end up with an awful lot of non-results. Take-homes – Weekly iterations, patience, persistence, focus on the big.

A guide to carrying out usability reviews

A DIY usability review kit – including a scorecard template. Have a little play on your own website.

To Track or Not To Track

For me, it’s a no-brainer. Eye tracking combined with retrospective think aloud interviews gives you data and insight that other usability testing can’t. Make sure you read the comments on this post.

The value of eye tracking vs. observation and mouse tracking

Tommy expands on his comment to the “To Track of Not To Track” blog post above by showing the extra value that eye tracking can give compared to traditional usability testing (or mouse tracking). The post is quite technical in places, but ultimately what it explains is that eye tracking testing in this case highlighted issues that otherwise wouldn’t have been spotted.

Did the mobile web reach tipping point?

A year ago I said that 2010 would be the year that the mobile web reached tipping point. The question is, did it?

There are many ways you could measure it and we could argue all day about what is the best way to measure it. Mobile page views? smartphone devices sold? Mobile web bandwidth use?

Visits and Pageviews

I’m going to use figures for pageviews and visits from a client’s website in this article to help illustrate how much mobile web use has grown in 2010. I’m going to leave the site anonymous, but I will give you a few background details.

The site is based in Sweden and it’s visits are predominately from the Stockholm area. It’s visited by a full cross-section of Internet users from all generations. There is no mobile adjusted site available – all visitors use the same, full, desktop version. The number of pageviews a month is around 45,000.

600% increase

number of mobile visits rising during 2010 with a jump in July and year end

Up to November 2009 the site had received no visits from mobile devices. In the three months from December 2009 to February 2010 this increased to 1.7% of visits. In December 2009 only 1.1% of pageviews were served to mobiles with most being to iPhones. (Note that I’m including the following devices in the statistics for “mobiles”: iPad, iPod, iPhone, Android, Symbian).

In December 2010, this figure had increased to 6.5% of page views and 8.5% of visits. The iPhone still dominates, with the iPad and Android devices sitting pretty and fighting over 2nd place.

Mobile pageviews: iPhone most with 59.49%

Tipping point reached

The tipping point for this web site came at the end of July 2010. The end of July saw the launch of the iPhone 4 here in Sweden. Once people returned to work after the traditional summer break the number of pageviews served to mobile devices pretty much doubled and hasn’t looked back since.

It would also appear that plenty of people got an iThing for Christmas judging by the spike of pageviews since then. It is, of course, too early to know for sure if this new doubling of mobile visits will be sustained, but so far it hasn’t dropped back.

Bear in mind that all of these figures are for a website that has made no attempt to attract mobile and handheld visitors, and has made no adjustments to cater for them either. These visitors are the people who are deciding to use the site regardless of the limitations – presumably because accessing websites via their handheld device has become a standard form of behaviour for them.

As big as Chrome

Given that the total number of mobile pageviews is over three times as many as for IE6, and pretty much the same percentage as pageviews served to visitors using Google’s Chrome browser – It’s crucial that you regularly check your website on mobile and handheld devices.

You need to check your site regularly, not only during development development or design projects. Just as it has been standard practice for many years to check a range of web browsers, it is now standard practice to check a range of handheld devices too.

WordPress plugin: Measuring browser viewport size

Previously I’ve written about the importance of browser viewport size, and also explained how you can measure the browser viewport of your visitors and store the result in Google Analytics as events.

Given the 25 million sites out there running WordPress, I decided to invest a bit of time into creating a WordPress plugin to track viewport size. It uses exactly the same technique as described in my earlier post but conveniently wrapped up as an easy to install WordPress plugin.

Download the plugin

You can download the Measure Viewport Size plugin from the WordPress plugin directory. Or you can install it directly from your WordPress site by searching for “Measure Viewport Size” from the “add plugin” page.

There are a few prerequisites; you will need to have Google Analytics installed on your site (the asynchronous “_gaq” version). I’ve tested the plugin with Google Analytics for WordPress and it works fine. You will also need to make sure that your theme supports the body_class trigger. The body tag in header.php wthin your active theme should look something like the following:

<body <?php body_class(); ?>>

How does it work?

The plugin uses a javascript function to obtain the width and height of the viewport of the browser window your website visitor is using to view your site. It then sends three “events” to your Google Analytics account. One for the width, one for the height, and one with a text label containing the full dimensions.

You can then view the events that have been recorded as people visit your site in Google Analytics under Content -> Event Tracking. It can take a day or so for the events to be processed and to appear in your GA reports, so be patient!

Why bother?

Monitoring and analysing the browser viewport size is a crucial part of designing and maintaining a successful website.

50 pixels fewer in available height for content could be the difference between your call to action being visible or disappearing below the fold. That could have a noticeable impact on your conversions and goals.

The browser viewport is the window in to your world. Your visitor sees everything through it. So why drive blind when you can quite easily gather and analyse a bit of data?

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