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What Is A User Journey
What Is A User Journey?
In the simplest terms a "user journey" is the path that a visitor takes through your site.
How Is A User Journey Different From A "Visit"?
In analytics, usability and monitoring terms a "user journey" generally refers to the path taken to achieve a specific goal (eg making a purchase) or complete a specifc purpose (eg searching for film showing times), as opposed to random browsing.
User journeys are often broken down into steps for more detailed analysis.
What Is A User Journey Step?
A step is defined differently depending on what is being measured, monitored or analysed, but will typically be either a single page or a process that the user visits or interacts with in the course of the journey.
How Long Does A User Journey Last?
Typically a "user journey" is considered to take place within one visit. This can be anything from a matter of seconds upwards depending on what the user comes to your site to do.
How Many Steps Can One User Journey Be?
User journeys can be anything from a simple visit to one page where no direct interaction takes place, to complex multipage visits that include interaction with features provided by many different systems in the backend such as making a purchase, applying for an insurance quote, posting and commenting on user generated content, for example.
Why Do Organisations Monitor User Journeys?
The first stage of monitoring is to better understand how the technical performance of online, web, mobile and app affect user experience and perception, and the impact of technical performance on the bottom line.
Organisations that are ahead of the eCommerce maturity curve use the results of monitoring data as a common language, a single point of truth, that ensures all departments involved in online activity in any way can work closely and effectively together. It informs everything from top level strategic decision making about budgeting, capacity planning and prioritization, through eCommerce and online marketing campaigns, into the hands on day to day IT operations and service delivery aspects of pre-empting, discovering and diagnosing problems.
How Are User Journeys Used In Monitoring?
Monitoring the performance of an end-to-end user journey instead of whether stand alone pages are simply visible, or certain components and features working in isolation, provides the necessary realism you need to understand the experience your users are having on your site.
It could be that each page is working fine, but the process for moving between them is not, for example.
What Are Dynamic User Journeys?
Dynamic User Journeys are the next evolution of this method of monitoring, they are sometimes called "automated mystery shopping". In a dynamic user journey the monitoring script behaves just like a real user, making random selections at each stage of the journey, the better to replicate real user behaviour and test the performance of all aspects of the site.
For example, on an eCommerce site a dynamic user journey used to test the clothing purchase purchase might work as follows:
- Enter at homepage
- Select Department [mens, womens, childrens]
- Womens Department is chosen at random
- Select Sub Category [shoes, coats, hats. skirts, dresses, trousers]
- Shoes is chosen at random
- Select style at random [from all styles available]
- Select size at random [from all sizes available]
- Select colour at random [from all colour available]
- Add to basket
- Enter checkout process
- Choose at random to "add additional offer item" shown [yes, no]
- Select shipping type [free, express, normal]
- Select payment type [paypal, credit card, shop account]
- Credit card chosen
- Enter card details
The old method of "static journey monitoring" or "static URL monitoring" meant that one one choice was pre-specified for a journey. In monitoring terms this would mean that you might know that it is possible to buy "womens, ballet pumps. size 5, red, using payal for express shipping" 100% of the time, but that is ALL it tells you. The rest of the site could be down and you not know.
How Many User Journeys Should I Monitor?
That depends on the type of site, and the number of key journeys you expect users to take.
You should certainly monitor all the major processes on your site in at least one journey.
Typically you Dynamic User Journeys mean that you need to monitor fewer individual journeys as the checks per journey are more comprehensive. You would need many more Static User Journeys to cover the same information.
What Is The Best Way To Approach User Journey Monitoring?
SciVisum recommend that you measure the your journeys 24/7, and have the real-time and summary graphs available to all interested parties. Here are the firstyou need to consider when thinking about User Journey monitoring.
- Define key journeys
Use your web analytics and sales and marketing KPIs to work out the multi-page User Journeys that visitors to the site follow.
You don't need every possible journey; choose say the five that you feel are most important.
- Define KPIs
You will need to set thresholds for eaach journey, and each step within it, to see if it is performing at an acceptable level.
For each journey, try to put some measure on quality. How long is the maximum acceptable time? What is the maximum page-delivery failure rate that you will accept?
These figures can also be used as part of your SLAs (service level agreements) with your 3rd parties.
- Review Data Regularly
After the first month, review together any web performance issues that the monitoring has highlighted and aim for the technical team to reduce any bottlenecks early on. After your web site monitoring supplier has data over some months of your site, confidence in well your team can respond and improve issues as they arise will quickly arise.
Don't try to improve everything. Aim for the best return on investment from quick improvements.
Use data as a communication tool to improve inter-departmental understanding of needs, requirements and processes, and for discussions about prioritisation and planning.
- Real-world metrics
Both before and after the next marketing campaign use the monitoring metrics to decide if the performance is within the agreed service levels. If not, then estimate what effect this might have on visitor drop-outs and overall campaign effectiveness.
Ideally, the metrics after each campaign will show that the web performance is within acceptable bounds. If there's any disappointment in conversion rates from a campaign, then the root causes must be sought elsewhere than in the web technology systems.
- Think About Load Testing
Web load testing often goes hand in hand with user journey monitoring. Where User Journey Montoring tells you how the site is performing now, and how it performed in the past, load testing will tell you how the performance journeys, and subsequent user experience, will be affected by the number of users on the site, and how that changes depending on the mix of different journeys that they are taking.
Why Is User Journey Monitoring Different From Web Analytics?
User Journey Monitoring bridges the gap between web analytics and usability testing, showing the real-time impact of errors and slowdowns on user behaviour and on the bottom line.
The Dynamic user Journey monitor approach gives users necessary context to the results from analytics and user testing. where web analytics can tell you “what happened” and user testing can show you “how users react”, Dynamic user journey monitoring can provide insight onto “why this is happening”, “where this is happening” and "how often it happens".
You may know from web analytics that you are getting a higher percentage of users than expected leaving partway through the checkout process. You may then go on to try and discover the reasons with usability testing and discover that your customers expect the form pages of the eCommerce checkout process to appear within 2 seconds of clicking submit.
Both of these methods may reveal that users are content for certain areas of the site to perform more slowly than others. For example, they may not mind waiting for a demo video to take longer to download and play, but they get very nervous if their credit card verification is not returned immediately, or make negative assumptions about customer service if the product search is slow.
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