Thursday, December 03, 2009

First month with the new site

Yesterday was December 2nd. We launched the new site on November 2nd. So as of today, I have one solid month of data on the new site available in Google Analytics. Let’s take a look at how we’re doing compared to November 3rd through December 3rd of last year. The dates don’t match up exactly so that we start on a Monday and end on a Tuesday with both date ranges.

  • Visits up 27.53%
  • Unique Visitors up 89.16%
  • Page views up 38.51%
  • Average page views up 8.61%
  • Average time on site up 22.44%
  • Bounce rate down 46.09%
  • Percentage of new visits up 90.69%

These are all positive changes. Bounce rate is a bad thing, so seeing that number go down is good. We’re reaching more people, who are looking at more pages and spending longer stretches of time before leaving. But I’m not ready to say all this is due to the redesign. After all, we’ve seen a significant enrollment increase this semester, so all these numbers should be improved over a year ago.

So let’s also compare the first month with the new site to a similar date range the month previous; 11/02/2009 through 12/02/2009 compared to 9/28/2009 through 10/28/2009, again starting on a Monday and ending on a Tuesday.

  • Visits up 0.22%
  • Unique Visitors up 15.27%
  • Page views up 30.01%
  • Average page views up 29.72%
  • Average time on site up 41.74%
  • Bounce rate down 51.39%
  • Percentage of new visits up 35.89%

This comparison is less straight forward. The new site has Thanksgiving break in this data set where the old site has no breaks, which would seem to put the new site at a disadvantage. But the old site’s figures come before registration opened up for the Spring, so in other ways it’s at a disadvantage. In other words, don’t read too much into this comparison.

It does help make it clear that the sorts of metrics tied to raw traffic have little to do with the redesign. The percentage change in visits is virtually zero. But metrics that measure engagement, such as time on site and bounce rate, actually show more improvement against a month ago than they do against a year ago. This probably helps show the natural boost we get thanks to registration opening up this time of year. When we’re talking about aggregate data it’s important to keep in mind all the variables that have nothing to do with the design of the site.

I’m more comfortable attributing large shifts in metrics for specific sections of site content that have been significantly overhauled as part of the redesign. For example, the list of our programs of study saw an increase in visits of 502.65% and an increase in unique visitors of 290.45% compared to figures for October of this year. Compared to a year ago, the difference is 548.75% increase in visits, 333.29% increase in unique visitors. One of my primary goals with the redesign was to increase the visibility of this content because I think it’s an important part of the “shopping” process. I think we can safely call that a success.

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