Web Usability: Why We Torpedoed A Client's Pageviews (Src: Wikimedia Commons)We actually tried (and succeeded!) to tank the pageviews for one of our client site’s most-viewed pages a couple of months ago.  We consider it a job well done.  We think we did the client a favor.  We’ll explain by showing you the actual numbers and why we torpedoed those pageviews below.

Call us geeks if you want, but we get a certain buzz by studying how people interact with web design.  We love studying web usability.  The term “analytics” may sound as exciting to some folks as a bowl full of unseasoned, taste-bud-drowsing white rice.  But, say that word around our office and fingers begin to twitch, eyebrows lift, eyes narrow, pulses rise.

We dig it.  We’re addicts.  (See our Google Analytics Quickstart Guide video post.)

So we were getting our buzz on back in the summer and noticed something that almost never happens in the small-business web world.  One of our sites had an interior page that was getting a lot more pageviews than the home page.

The site was Cootie Brown’s Restaurant.  “Cootie’s” is one of our many clients on a monthly service plan which includes site updates and monthly traffic reporting.  We monitor how their site is being used on a monthly basis and provide them a detailed report each month.

Studying Analytics: Noticing A Pain Point

In this instance, their menu page was getting a ton of hits, even more than the home page.  There were two reasons for this which we noticed when we dug into the analytics.  The first was that Google presents the menu as one of several page options on a SERP for Cootie Brown’s.  A lot of people wanted to go straight to the menu and figure out what they were going to eat for dinner.  Analytics labels these “Entrances” and those are good.

But we also noticed that the number of “Entrances” didn’t account for nearly enough of the pageviews on the menu page.  The lack of a sub-navigation for the menu section was creating a lot of extra clicks, and headaches, for the literally hungry end-user.

If you were looking at the appetizers and you wanted to see the pizza selection, you had to click back to the menu to get to the pizzas.  That was a pain point we could eliminate.

Launch Pageview Torpedo

Our solution was to create a sub-navigation for the menu section which eliminated the needless clicks back to the menu page.

Cootie Browns Menu Navigation

The result was an immediate drop of over 1,000 pageviews for the menu page. That’s nearly 40% . . .


So how do we know we did something good here? Cross-referencing analytics, of course.

For the entire site during the same two months, “Average Visit Duration” held almost the same from 3:30 in July to 3:22 in August.  That’s with over a thousand less pageviews.  So people spent less time needlessly clicking back to the main menu and virtually an identical amount of time on the site.

Translation: Less time clicking, more time ordering key lime pie!

Usability Trumps Artistry

The reason we love studying analytics is that our job is not merely to make something that looks pretty.  Our sites have to make our clients money or they are a waste of time.  If we can study analytics and make the site more usable as we go, then we have done both the end-user and the client a service.  Our small business website packages all include monthly service maintenance and reporting for that very reason.  Check them out below.
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