Unless your website is very basic, odds are that you use some sort of navigation to help visitors find website content. Usually navigation is in the header or left side of web pages. Inevitably, there will be times when you are asked how often and in what ways visitors are using navigation. In this post I will cover some common navigation questions and how to answer them.
So what are the common questions you may get around navigation. Here are some that I have been asked over the years:
- Which individual navigation links are clicked the most?
- Which navigation areas are clicked the most? This is usually related to the main section area, not individual links.
- From which pages are visitors using each navigation link?
- For what percent of website visits is navigation used?
- In what order do website visitors use navigation links?
- Which navigation links lead to key website success milestones being accomplished?
The following will show how to answer each of these questions:
Which individual navigation links are clicked the most?
In this scenario, people are looking to see which detailed navigation links are clicked the most. In the image below, this would represent such links as “Sales Cloud 2,” “Service Cloud 2,” “Custom Cloud 2,” etc…
To answer this question, you should have your developer write code that will pass the name of the link to a Traffic Variable (sProp) when a visitor clicks on each link in your navigation. In addition, I highly recommend that you have them include the high-level navigation area in the value passed to the sProp. For example, when a visitor clicks on “Sales Cloud 2” in the example above, I would pass the value of “products:sales cloud 2” (I always use lower case since sProps are case-sensitive) to the sProp. Passing the high-level area will ensure that your data is clean as there are times when the same link can occur more than once in a navigation structure. When this is complete, you can view a report that looks like this:
Which navigation areas are clicked the most?
In this question, people are generally asking to see (in the example above) if the “Products” section is clicked more than the “About” section and if so, by how much. The good news is that if you have done the previous step correctly, you can answer this question by creating a SAINT Classification which rolls up the values in the preceding report into higher-level buckets. You can create this classification easily by exporting the above report to Microsoft Excel and splitting the column by the separator and using the first part as the high-level navigation name. Here is what your SAINT file might look like:
After you create and process this SAINT file you will be able to see a new high-level navigation report that looks like this:
From which pages are visitors using each navigation link ?
In this scenario, people at your company may want to know what is the most common top navigation link clicked from the home page or from another page on your site. To see this, you need to have setup a Previous Page sProp. This sProp passes the name of the previous page to the current page which allows you to create Traffic Data Correlations between it and any other Traffic variable. In this case, once we have a Previous Page sProp, we can correlate it to the Top Navigation Link sProp shown above to see what navigation links are clicked from each page. For example, I can open up the Previous Page sProp within a report suite and then break it down by the new Top Navigation sProp…
…to see a report like this:
In this case, we can see that the “customers:india customers” Top Navigation link was only clicked 482 times from the home page.
In addition, since this uses a correlation and correlations are bi-directional, you can also use this to find out all of the pages from which visitors clicked on a specific navigation link:
In this case, we can see that the “customers:india customers” link was clicked a total of 957 times and then see the breakdown of pages visitors were on when they clicked it. This can help your content people understand when visitors are reaching for the navigation… Finally, if you look closely, you can see that the “SFDC:in:homepage” shows the same 482 clicks referenced above, but in this case we can see that it accounts for 50% of all clicks this link gets across the entire website…
For what percent of website visits is navigation used?
In some cases, you may be asked how often website navigation is used (in general). One easy way to figure this out is to look at the the total Page Views from the first SiteCatalyst report shown in this post and divide it by the number of website Visits. This can be done easily using the ExcelClient where you can pull a Visits data block and the report above and divide the two. However, if you think you might need this on a recurring basis and if trending is important, I will show you another way to do this. When visitors click on navigation links, in addition to passing the link name to a Traffic Variable as shown above, set a “Navigation Clicks” Success Event. Once you have a Success Event, you can create a Calculated Metric that divides Navigation Clicks by Visits as shown here…
…which will allow you to see a report like this:
In what order do website visitors use navigation links?
If you are redesigning your navigation, a useful piece of data is the order in which visitors click on navigation links. Do they always click on the first items in the list? The ones that are farthest to the left? Fortunately, if you have implemented the items above, you can see this by simply enabling Pathing on the new Navigation Links sProp created above. This will allow you to view the Pathing reports including a Next Page Flow and Previous Page Flow just for navigation items:
Which navigation links lead to key website success milestones being accomplished?
Finally, I will occasionally be asked which navigation links are contributing to success. To answer this question, all you have to do is enable Participation for your key metrics on the Navigation links sProp described above. This will allow you to add a Participation metric to the first report shown above to see which links were in the flow of your key website Success Events.
Well, there you have it. Everything you wanted to know about tracking your website navigation, but were afraid to ask! If you have any comments/questions, use the form below.