Why Your Product Development Can’t Skip User Analytics
For a truly user-centric workflow, a data-driven approach is crucial
Even with the best intentions, lots of businesses make great products that fail. Yahoo could have been Google, had the company listened to consumer trends. New products can fall flat for a variety of reasons, and sometimes that failure can be attributed to a lack or misuse of data. Your best defense against wasting development time and spending is to proactively collect user analytics to validate product features, user interfaces, and experiences.
Perhaps you have a marketing campaign or landing page that’s reaching customers right now—kudos—but what about next year and the year after? Analytics help you gain a snapshot of customer information and behavior in the moment, but it’s just as critical that you use live analytics to predict and detect evolving and future behavior, modifying your UX and UI accordingly.
To start learning more about your users’ behavior with your digital product, you can turn to tools like Google Analytics, Hotjar, and Mouseflow, each of which have their own strengths and capabilities. No matter which tool you use, user analytics are essential to building and refining your product.
A data-first strategy
The starting point for marketing is no longer media and traditional advertising campaigns. It’s examining user data to understand your audience, then incorporating those findings into UX and UI from the outset. Use all the resources available to help learn about your audience and define its basic demographics, from existing partnerships to analytics tools like Google’s upcoming GA4 and social platforms, as well as methods like heuristic research, studies, tests, and surveys. That user data should help power your approach to building your web presence, in the spirit of one-to-one marketing.
Let data be a catalyst for change
The dashboard is all set up, and everyone is psyched to be using it. Where do you go from there? As with deciding which data to track in the first place, use of analytics must be specific to help your team refine customer profiles and drive sales. For instance, if you create a dashboard that shows you at which step in your UX you’re losing customers, you can dive deeper to understand the “why” behind that specific data point. You might set up an event to figure out whether people are clicking out on a certain section of your website or simply scrolling halfway down; if that behavior leads them to miss important information connected to your business, you should consider redesigning that step of the process.
You’re not alone if you don’t understand who your core audience is. That’s why introducing data to your product strategy can be a game-changer and a surprise. Building UX and UI that incorporates data can look different for different companies, depending on your goals. You might end up moving modules on your site, revising copy, or launching an entirely different experience. To narrowly target your audience, you could focus on landing pages and custom pages to engage a certain type of user. To ensure your users convert, you could introduce a CMS function where personalized prompts respond to a user’s actions when they’re most engaged—while they’re using your product.
Don’t forget your in-house audience
Google’s Data Studio dashboard is widely used because it’s relatively approachable and customizable. But it’s important that you’re gathering and presenting data to key stakeholders at your organization in a way that they can understand, whether it’s with clear language or visuals, so you can make actionable decisions. Your marketing team might benefit from a different dashboard than members of the C-suite. Your product designers and engineers could use another dashboard focused on specific user behaviors. You might even create a dashboard dedicated to a certain segment of your audience, such as Gen Z, and share it with staff whose jobs are focused on that segment so they can reference the data to brainstorm, create workflows, track progress, and introduce refinements.
Avoid a plateau
So you’ve spent months developing a product and you launch it into the world expecting immediate results. You may have consulted with some data before launch, but you don’t bother with it afterwards. You’re not meeting your sales goals or attracting new customers. And you’re only designing UX and UI around your team’s perception of your audience.
You’ve made a mistake, and at this point, it’s hard to retrace your steps because there are no analytics to reference as core to your product-related decisions. It’s time to start over, and you’ll want to let data guide your decisions this time around. But it’s much more difficult to rebuild than to refine. Use data from the beginning, and you’ll avoid this scenario.