Let’s Use Analytics to Build Smart Mobile Websites

The SEO web design trends exclaim the rise of the mobile websites and responsive design, but is it easy to create a mobile-friendly website? It certainly could just be picking the right web developer or WordPress theme, but does that make a mobile website smart? A good mobile website allows users to access all of the information that they would on a desktop, but an excellent responsive website can make a brand transcend all platforms and even stand out with high web design choices. The Pew Research study found that 56 percent of people are using a smartphone today. While this is a great way to persuade a business to build a mobile-friendly website, it’s not the best way to measure how people will interact with a brand on a phone.

With the help of Google Analytics, you can monitor mobile activity and gain a clear understanding of how users are interacting with your brand when they are on the go.

How to Use Reports to Analyze Mobile Data

Google Analytics is best used for its reporting tools. These are the best ones to use for deciphering mobile activity.

1. Audience, Mobile, Overview

The “Audience” > “Mobile” > “Overview” report shows the number of visits by mobile, tablet and desktop users. With these numbers, you can directly see the benefits of creating a responsive web design. This is also helpful when a client questions turning a static website into a responsive one. However, the overview isn’t all that you will need to start designing a mobile site. This is why you look at the “Devices” report as well.

2. Audience, Mobile, Devices

In this report, statistics are broken down by each device that people use to access your site. This makes it easier to see problems with how people are able to use your site on different phones, tablets or other mobile operating systems. By looking at the bounce rate of a particular device, you may see that users on an Apple iPhone have a hard time using your site. You can then further analyze by accessing the site from different devices to see what the problems are.

You can also see what phones promise the most conversions. The report allows you to select different dimensions at the top to see other factors like screen resolution or operating system. If you can view the average screen resolution, you can improve the design even more. It’s also helpful if there is a high bounce rate for certain screen resolutions. Perhaps the screen is cutting off important information.

3. Audience, Technology, Browser & OS

This report provides information on the main browsers that are used to load your website. It also shows different trends. What’s the most common default browser, Firefox or Chrome? Also statistics can be viewed by operating system and even add other columns through the “Secondary Dimension” drop-down menu. The information here can show you every operating system used to access your site, thus allowing you to design a site that even old browsers like Internet Explorer 8 might be able to access. Believe it or not, Internet Explorer 8 is still around and showing up in these operating system statistics.

How to Use Advanced Segments

The main reporting tools work wonderful as a spring board for more information. Advanced segments allows you to go deeper into the data that you collect on mobile visitors. You can set up different segments to show tablet, desktop and mobile visitors, and there are even segments for devices and screen sizes.

To get to advanced segments, click on the “Reporting” tab in Google Analytics, and then click on the arrow next to “All Visits.” The menu pops up showing the existing segments and allows you to create new segments. Click on “Built-In” segments to see the default choices for “Tablet Traffic” and “Mobile Traffic.” You should create a segment here for “Desktop Traffic.” To do so, click “Create New Segment,” and in the menu, click “Technology,” then scroll down in the category list and enter “Desktop.” Save the segment, and now it’s available in your account options.

Google Analytics allows you to use advanced segments with reports in the interface. This enables you to review statistics and find high bounce rates while comparing that to the operating system used by the average user. You can do this by filtering out different types of mobile traffic. These are some of the best filters.

1. Visitors Flow

To find this report, go to “Audience” and then “Visitors Flow.” This will show the paths that people take to get to your website. You can compare websites to see how the mobile behavior changes. For instance, on on website you may find that the “Contact” page was one of the most common for users to visit on a mobile phone. However, on the desktop site, the “About” page was the highest and the lowest was the “Contact” page. Perhaps the link to the contact page on the mobile site is not as prominent as it should be on the desktop site.

2. Pages

To access pages, go to “Behavior,” then “Site Content,” and finally “All Pages.” This allows you to see what top pages are being viewed by mobile visitors. One of the most essential factors in designing a site is understanding what your audience wants to see. This is the report that allows you to see the most important parts of your site to mobile visitors. You can also see what pages are more important to desktop or mobile users.

3. Exit Pages

Before people leave your site, they must land on a certain page. Go to “Behavior,” then “Site Content,” an then “Exit Pages” to see these statistics. There may be problems with some of the pages that make them easier to leave. For instance, users may not be able to see the information clearly or a large photo is getting in the way when browsing on a particular operating system.

4. Traffic

Go to “Acquisition” and then “All Traffic” to see the top sources that people arrive at through the website. You can compare the desktop and mobile segments to see which sources are more available or accessible to mobile visitors. There typically is a lot of traffic from Facebook on mobile than with any desktop application. Social sharing buttons should then be very visible on your mobile and desktop site.

All of these reports can help you build a stronger mobile site. As Google stated last year, many sites are being penalized for not offering a responsive experience to users. If you have high traffic on desktop and not on mobile, these tools can help you understand why.