In this post, we will explore one of the new analysis features under the analysis hub in App+Web - Path Analysis. I will comment on my experience using this new shiny toy and perhaps, help some of you navigate around as well.
Admittedly, I was a little dumbfounded with what I was seeing when I first landed on the Path Analysis tab. I guess it was a little bit of a learning curve and getting your bearings around something new. I’m hoping this blog post will make it just a tad easier for you to begin your own exploration.
Once you are in, you will see two skinny sections (Variables and Tab Settings) and one big section (Path Analysis). The variables section is pretty self explanatory, they are just the variables that you can use to customise your report on Tab Settings. Then you have Path Analysis which is simply the visual output of your variables in Tab Settings.
Righto, I guess before we move on, it’s best that we get a few definitions ironed out first.
Nodes are the different dimensions you can at any given step in a flow. Nodes are pretty limited at this stage as we only have the options of:
‘Page Title and Screen Name’, and
‘Page Title and Screen Class’
If you’ve never used Firebase before, the last two options may seem a little confusing. Screen Name is the name of the current screen, like ‘Home’ or ‘Sale Items’ while Screen Class is, to put it loosely, a collective of a few app screens built around a UIViewController (by default).
Value in the path analysis is just the metric that you want to see or carried across the graphs, it can be Total Users or Event Counts.
Cool Thing #1: UX Flexibility
I have to commend that the developers of this path analysis have done a brilliant job in terms of making this pathway analysis super easy to use. Furthermore, you have the flexibility to look at more than one path or flow within the same report (from the same starting or ending point) at the same time. To illustrate this, when I clicked on blue bar of the 2nd most popular page of the Home Page (570 Data Runs Deep|) I can see that a majority of the users check us out (Who We Are page) while most of the visitors to our most popular page which is a blog post ‘How to track iframes with Google Tag Manager’ dropped out after reading the one single post. The reason behind this is mostly due to our lack of navigational properties on our website. Given that, looking at the path analysis and if we want to promote engagement and trust in our website, the take home point is that we need to ensure that there is more flow-on pathways from to our blog posts.
In terms of navigation within the report, say I want to view what users are up to after they viewed our Custom Content Grouping blog post and I’m done looking at the pathway for our HomePage. All I need to do is to click on the Home Page (Data Runs Deep) blue bar again and the whole flow collapsed from that point on before engaging the blue bar next to Custom Content Grouping. I will have to point out that one of my pain points is that the faint blue lines are really hard to see, also given that I don’t have a 20/20 vision.
If you want to analyze something else, you can either open a new tab up the top thus saving the existing analysis or you can bin your pathway altogether and click on START AGAIN on the top right hand side for a fresh approach.
Cool Thing #2: Ending Point
More often than not, most reports tell us how the user started their journey and what pages are visited after. I don’t know if this has ever been done in any reports before but the fact that you can choose the ending point (like a conversion point) provides a focal point for analysts and you can go backwards to see what are the most popular paths leading to that conversion. This can be viewed as User Explorer but with a Law of Large Numbers twist.
I’ll also note here that this feature works wonderfully for a large site, where there are numerous ways to get to a conversion point as opposed to a 6-page website. These types of insights can be leveraged to optimise the pages leading to the conversion.
The screenshot below (albeit in small numbers) show me that I am better off focusing on enhancing pages such as Training and Homepage rather than say Blog pages if I want to improve my conversion rates.
Cool Thing #3: Less is More
If you are anything like me and you get distracted easily, then this little feature (pencil icon next to Step +n) of editing viewable nodes really helps in reigning you back to the events or pages that you are interested to analyse.
Once you’ve clicked on the icon, you can select or deselect the nodes that form the next path/funnel analysis. I will note that this can get a little tricky if you are analysing pathways leading to an ending point, only because our brains are very much wired to understand from left to right. For ending points pathways, you select the next left nodes that you want to see, so you read the pathway from right to left.
See the down arrow in the ‘Page Title and Screen Name’ Box? That allows you to toggle subsequent steps in the flow to be events or page titles.
Cool Thing #4: Breakdown
I find the ability to easily toggle between, in the instance below, device category allows me to quickly identify potential problems with the pages and their compatibility between devices type. The report also doesn’t need to reload itself every time you select a different device category to view, which is very time-saving indeed.
As an example, in the screenshot below the number of mobile users dropped off second page in from the Sale page. This is highly unexpected and there is definitely some further investigation required here.
In a nutshell, this path analysis feature is far from perfect and there could be some further improvements to some finer details (such as they probably need to fix/update their search functionality and the UX within the search function). However, I feel that the bones are there and I am excited to see what else this report can do once all the bells and whistles are in place.
Lastly, I didn’t intend for this post to be this long when I started as my first impression of this path analysis was, ‘This is pretty crap’. However, as I spend more time getting to know the report and playing around with it, I am finding little nuggets of gold. Hope you found your one gold nugget in this post too.