Is this thing working?

Posted in: Design, Development, User research

As part of our recent sprint to update elements of our Research navigation, we scheduled in time to review the analytics after three weeks to give us an early indication of whether our changes had the expected effect.

Spoilers, they did.

Tom T, Miles and I met up and reviewed the relevant profiles and events we'd set up in Google Analytics, plus the heatmap, scrollmap and link lists from crazyegg. we compared the data to that which we had before we made the changes.

Google Analytics

Our findings showed that over an identical period of time we have seen a 100% increase in the usage of the ‘Research homepage’ link in the meganav.

This is great, as we made the decision early on to make this link more obvious by changing the colour and utilising a css media-query to reposition it more prominently for mobile devices.

Updated link: desktop on left, mobile on right
Updated link: desktop on left, mobile on right

We also observed a 50% increase in traffic to the Research Features, the link for which was much more clearly presented under the ‘Browse' section, rather than appearing to be under News.

We noted a general trend of increased usage of links within the meganav, which we took to mean that the restyling of the button that displayed the navigation was successful.

Incidentally, there were more translated links captured (showing the page was being viewed through an online translation service), which could suggest that the newly styled button is more recognisable as a navigational element to an international audience.

Finally (unrelated to a certain extent), we looked at the location of visitors across the world (due in part to the increased number of translated links) and were delighted to note the interest we had from all corners - and also the interest from London, which was the second city after Bath for UK visits.
It's always rewarding and also humbling to be reminded of the global reach and audience our website has.


The list of links showed an increase in usage, but due to an unfortunate archiving accident we didn’t have the full data to compare, so it was hard to draw out much from the heatmaps.

We did note that it appears that the Research landing page is primarily a conduit to the Faculties and Departments section - which led us to wonder how people are arriving at Research - is it a search term, or part of a user journey that takes in Study as well? The answers will be in the analytics, and we'll be looking at this in a future sprint.

The mobile heatmaps that CrazyEgg generates show that the "hamburger" menu icon is recognisable and is being used. We thought perhaps that some way of differentiating between the global and local navigation that use identical icons would be beneficial, again a subject to revisit in the future.

Wrapping up

What this all shows is that scheduling in a review a few weeks after a completed piece of work not only allows you to assess the effectiveness of the work, but can unearth more opportunities to improve the service/product you provide. Having reviews also requires us to bake-in trackable benchmarks to our releases. No bad thing.

Posted in: Design, Development, User research