Digital Snapshot | Writing a website brief...remember the analytics

What you need to tell your agency about analytics set up...

If you’re getting a new website commissioned it’s fairly standard practice to write a brief that specifies your requirements for the site. This goes out to interested agencies and they respond accordingly. Sometimes these brief documents contain lots of detail (I saw one a couple of weeks ago that was 13 pages long) and sometimes they are more concise but there is one aspect that is often missing and that’s detail about how you would like the Google Analytics setting up.

It’s surprising that given how much thought and effort goes into thinking about the design, navigation and content of a website, often little to no consideration is given to how the site owner will evaluate the site’s performance. So if you’re about to get a new website developed here is a few things to include in your brief and discuss with the chosen agency.

  • Ideally you’ll want them to use the tracking code for your existing site, so that, when you look at the reports, you’ll be able to compare performance of the new site against the old site. It’s also worth mentioning that occasionally I see analytics accounts configured in such a way that an organisation’s website is tracked under the account of the agency. This isn’t a good idea since, if you ever part company with that agency, you may have problems - Google Analytics accounts can’t be transferred.
  • Think about what ‘in-page’ actions you might want to track. Things like watching a video, downloading a brochure, clicking on an external link, are all examples of ‘events’ in Google Analytics and are important to have setup but you will need to specify to the agency exactly what you want to track.

The next few of points are features you can set up yourself but if an agency is working on a new site, it shouldn’t be too much work for them to do these too.

  • If you have a search facility on your website you should switch on the ‘site search’ option within the view for the account. Once it’s on you’ll be able to see what search terms people are using on the site plus a heap of other useful information.
  • Similarly you will probably want to enable demographic & interest reports since then you will be able to see information on the age, gender and ‘interests’ of your site visitors.
  • One other aspect that you could ask an agency to configure for you is ‘content groupings’. This is a way of grouping certain pages of the site into types of content e.g. for a museum site, all the pages for education providers added to a ‘learning’ group or for a theatre, any pages relating to shows added to a ‘what’s on’ group. Once content groupings are set up it makes it easier for you to analyse how each of these different sections of the site are performing.

Ultimately Google Analytics is a vital tool to help you understand how your site is performing, it’s worth taking the time to ensure you have it configured exactly how you need it.

And don’t forget that whether you’re completely new to Google Analytics or feel you’d benefit from a bit of a skills brush up, we do offer a variety of webinars or in-person training. Do drop me an email if you’d like to chat it through.

image via Visual Hunt