Website Design Basics | Understanding User Path Analysis
A user path analysis is an integral, strategic stage in designing the user experience of a website. It is a technique of predicting the behavior of the average user and mapping it through the site in a way that would make the information or sales process easier to understand and navigate both on the computer and on mobile devices.
A user path analysis should happen in the planning process and also when looking at the data after a site has been tracking a user’s behavior on the site.
An effective user path analysis is done by understanding the persona using all of the tools at your disposal. Some of these tools are:
- Top navigation
- Footer navigation
- In page links
- Buttons, and more.
Behind each and every click there is a person trying to find something, a user path analysis is predicting what that is and making it an easier road to traverse.
A Good User Path Analysis
A good user path analysis is extremely measurable in user experience tests and analytics. In user experience tests, a user will be asked to complete a task and speak through their thought process.
If the path has been laid out properly, this user should be able to find their answer in two to three clicks and shouldn’t get frustrated or give up.
When looking at analytics, a good user path analysis is found in sites where the flow of traffic is uniform.
Let’s use the example of an online furniture store. Most users would enter the store’s website on the homepage, then click to the hub page for sofas, finally they click into a sofa of their choice, and then make the purchase.
When a majority of the users on your site is following the same path, you know that you have optimized that path for conversion and that no one is getting lost.
A Bad User Path Analysis
A bad user path analysis can also be quantifiably measured. A bad user path analysis will be apparent when a majority of traffic is leaving the site before reaching their end goal.
This is caused when the user gets frustrated with trying to find their answer. When consumers are confused, they are more likely to give up and move on to another site that offers a good user path.
This happens for two reasons, either the user couldn’t find the information they need to convert, or they didn’t see any clues that the website would have the information they needed. Both of which are easily fixable. The solution—identify the problem.
User Path Analysis in the Real World
User path analyses are also seen in the physical world. There are some landscape designs with large lawns and sidewalks that offer a way to walk through them.
However, if the sidewalk isn’t convenient enough, you will see parts of the lawn that are destroyed by people walking on the grass instead of on the pavement.
Most of the time, there is a sidewalk that leads exactly where that user is going, but the entrance was too far, which is directly relatable to the user experience on a website.
How Your Business Can Incorporate a User Path Analysis into its Website Design Strategy
Without question, a good user path analysis on your website will increase your conversion rates. Less people getting frustrated and leaving the site means a higher retention rate and a higher retention rate means that more people are making it to their end goal. Making it easier for users to find what they are looking for, buy what they want, or reach who they need will dramatically affect the percentage of people who convert.