Measuring the Things That Matter

Analytics and User Testing Strategies for Nonprofits and Universities

What’s the ROI on your redesign project? How much value is this feature build delivering? Should we use a green button or a red button?

Data-driven decision making is a good thing. Insights from analytics and user testing can help you build credibility among stakeholders, assess your own performance, and identify opportunities for interventions with maximum positive impact. Large commerce and campaign sites might live or die by A/B testing that reveals a one percent difference in conversion rates between the green button that says "continue" and the animated arrow gif. There are a million different things you can track and report on a website, and a million different free and paid measurement tools. But those of us working in the nonprofit, academic, many-hatted, and grant-constrained space are often quite limited in what we can observe or measure - i.e. limited by what we have spent the time and money to observe or measure. So if we're going to measure and report on some things, we need to make sure we're measuring and reporting the things that really matter.

What are the most important metrics and dimensions to track? And how do you ensure that you have enough data and good enough data and the right data to answer your most important questions?

I’ll draw on case studies from the academic and nonprofit worlds to illustrate how you might utilize basic user testing and descriptive analytics (e.g. Google Analytics or Piwik) to:

  1. Build on project goals and define meaningful, measurable objectives that speak directly to the main purpose of your online presence.
  2. Translate key user stories, tasks and paths into measurable site interactions. 
  3. Configure your analytics (with special focus on the Drupal GA module) and choose the right user tests to deliver the information you need to address your questions.
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