The most useful Google Analytics metrics for web designers

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Data shows us if a website is doing what we intended it to do. Analyzing the right metrics can ultimately improve our web design.

10 min read

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Data is an important asset for businesses. Without it, everything is an assumption — and there’s no way to sustain a business on guesses.

That’s why your clients hire you. Not only are you a skilled designer who understands what works and what doesn’t in web design, but you also know how to take existing data and use it to build the right website for their needs.

But what about after the site goes live? Are you using the wealth of Google Analytics metrics available to make sure the site does what it’s supposed to do?

Below, we’re going to look at the key metrics for success and how web designers can translate this data into an improved web experience.

8 vital Google Analytics metrics for web designers to take action on

If you understand what the key Google Analytics metrics mean with regards to the experience you’ve designed, you can take steps to repair friction and further strengthen elements that work well.

1. Month-over-month traffic

Where do you find the metric?

Under the Audience tab. Set the timeframe as a comparison between the two months to see how traffic changed from month to month.

Google Analytics metrics - month-over-month traffic

What does it tell you?

You’ll see a direct comparison between visitor traffic levels between the current month and the previous month.

You can also use this metric to compare the same month from different years.

What should you do with it?

Rather than look at a single month’s traffic, a month-over-month or year-over-year comparison allows you to detect trends you wouldn’t otherwise be able to spot.

This metric will help you analyze how the design work you did affected the experience. For instance, did an update of the homepage hero image lead to a higher bounce rate? Or perhaps you redesigned the blog and now the average time on page is longer?

If something you did directly impacted your web traffic as well as user’s responses to the site, you’ll be able to see the change from month to month.

For example, let’s say you’ve designed an eCommerce site. Although your Black Friday sales don’t start until the Monday before, traffic starts to soar two weeks in advance. There’s no increase in revenue yet, but it looks as though shoppers start checking out what’s in stock and making wishlists in preparation for the sale.

If you can pinpoint when this traffic uptick takes place, you can do a number of things in response:

  • Perform all major maintenance on the design beforehand, making sure that everything is up-to-date and that all links and buttons are working.

  • Schedule promotional banners to go up on the site when you know you’ll have eyes on it.

  • Add a lead generation form to collect leads when they’re in the discovery and research phase of the buying process.

The same goes for month-over-month trends. You can use those metrics to detect predictable highs and lows in traffic.

2. New visitors vs. return visitors

Where do you find the metric?

Under the Audience > Behavior > New vs Returning tab. For consistent tracking of this metric, always review one month at a time.

Google Analytics metrics - new visitors vs. return visitors

What does it tell you?

This metric tells you how many and what percentage of your month’s visitors are new to the site and how many have been there before.

What should you do with it?

For most websites, the goal is to have a much larger percentage of return visitors than new.