Google Analytics offers you ways to see the way traffic moves through your website. It’s the most important information you can have, short of user testing, on how to optimize your website for the user experience (UX). Knowing where users exit your website will help you troubleshoot your conversion funnel. Did one of the pages take to long to load? Was the call To action too ambiguous? The User Flow won’t answer these questions, but it will show you the spots where you should be looking to see if they need answering.
By default, this report shows how users move through your website by landing page. The most popular landing pages appear at the top and have the thickest paths to the right. This is somewhat redundant, since the first node is the Starting Page. There are over twenty options in the dimension selection pull down menu. You can choose source to see how users from different websites are navigating your website. You could use the Customize Dimensions Items by hitting the little sprocket to the right of the pull down menu to limit the number of sources as little as one and as many as five. This helps give you a cleaner looking report that’s easier to understand.
Location, as in City or Region, is also an interesting dimension to use to parse the User Flow data. If your website is for a business with several locations, you could look at how visitors from different locations are using your website. You might see that it takes more clicks for users to find one location or that the landing page they start on could be more helpful.
Mobile (including Tablet), under the Users section of the Dimension pull down menu is also an important one to check out. Your website might be responsive, but maybe the user experience isn’t all it could be for the mobile visitors. If you see relatively short flow or you see that users are having trouble finding the content you want the to see, you’ll know you need to address the mobile design elements of your website.
You can choose one of the Events dimensions, but you’d be better off checking out the Events Flow report under Behavior/Events menu.
If you’re doing any advertising, you have five dimensions to choose from when look at user flow, including keywords. Knowing how visitors work their way through your website will help you make adjustments to get more out of your advertising dollars.
Using segments help you focus on isolated parts of your audience. Because you only have twenty dimensions to choose from, you could probably benefit from using a few metrics to further your understanding of the traffic patterns you’re seeing. A good example would be to look at the duration of the sessions. Maybe you only want to see the users who were on and off your site quickly because you figure they know what they want, and they’re not going to waste time. These users can show you how to optimize for page speed and clear calls to action. You might do just the opposite if your website has lengthy reading material. You don’t want to bother looking at the traffic of people who are just skimming. You want to see what your avid readers are doing. That’s just one metric out of… a lot. If you think of a profile of a type of user you want to track, you can probably identify a few traits that can be measured with Google Analytics that make up that profile. User Flow is one of the more intersting reports to view these traits, but it’s only one. I’ll wraite on more of these later.