There are lots of ways to go about turning users into regular visitors, but before we go into that let’s talk about what it means to even have users ‘engaged’ with your intranet;
User Engagement is a Scale
Everyone who uses your intranet has fallen onto that engagement scale somewhere, whether it’s subconscious or they’re vocal about it, they are on that scale. What defines where they place on that scale is their response to what your intranet offers them for their day-to-day work and wellbeing.
Are users getting what they need to do their job well? Do they take a leisurely stroll around the intranet, stopping by all their favourite pages along the way? If so you can bet your users are super engaged and think the time spent browsing is valuable and productive.
On the other hand maybe users are visiting the intranet because of that one useful page they need to see once a month… and it’s not available anywhere else. Or maybe you’ve overheard a colleague in the company kitchen joke about being back at his desk before the company news page loads, and he’s the last person in the 10 man coffee queue. Chances are these users are ‘not-so-engaged’ and find minimal value in the limited time they spend on your site.
While we can get a feeling of how engaged users are, be mindful that it’s not a quantifiable metric. Hard numbers can be applied to page views and load times, but engagement is tied more to experience and satisfaction levels. With that said, it should be no surprise that I am about to tell you that there is no tool available that can answer everything you want to know about how engaged your users are. But that doesn’t mean these tools can’t help you at all…
For the purposes of assessing user engagement you want to focus on key metrics that give you an insight into the applications' performance; so things like page load times (which can be very detrimental to experience at just 2+ seconds) and User Behaviour which may be page visits per user or click through rates on links (both of which are self-explanatory in showing user engagement).
Analytical Insights into User Engagement
We at ClearPeople think of ourselves as Bright. Human. Experts. We use a variety of analytical tools to quantify and qualify the advice and services we provide for you, but ultimately it is our inquisitive nature and drive to always ask “why” that turns your data into actionable and valuable information.
In fact, we recently donned our deerstalkers and dusted off our magnifying glasses to investigate and improve the service and experiences we were providing internally to our own colleagues. We’re presenting this to you now agnostic of any system but the same principals apply regardless of whether you have every metric available at your disposal or just some key facts.
Find below a little step-by-step on how we found we could improve user engagement.
Identifying an Issue
On our Web Analytics dashboard, I am interested in the last two weeks of data, so I set the filter from today to two weeks in the past. This is to ensure I have contextualised my findings to a certain time period.
I’m interested in seeing which page has been getting the most hits over this period, so I sort by ‘requests’ to show the highest first.
This gives me the view that the homepage takes an average of 7.19 secs to load. The homepage is the most visited page so it is alarming if the time for the page load is impacting the user experience.
‘Total Response Time’ is a summation of the total wait time for this page for all requests and can be a significant driver in setting priorities for website/intranet improvements. In this case it is giving 62 mins. This can be related to 62 mins of wasted user time. This has massive implications for larger organisations and user efficiency and needless to say it lowers the value the employee feels they are getting out of the content they are trying to interact with.
Investigating the Issue
I then selected the home page ‘entity’ for further investigation. I selected the ‘User’ view (to show users who had viewed the homepage) and sorted by load time to give a list of the highest load times by user.
The user I identified with highest load time was approached in person and asked about his browsing behaviour (when was he accessing, what device etc.) for further insight into what could be impacting the average response time so negatively. Perhaps the most understated investigative technique to gauge engagement is simply asking people face-to-face.
The user had stated that they had visited the homepage on their mobile device at some point and had a negative overall experience.
Using a heat map for ‘Average Response Time’ I was able to confirm that page load response time was worst soon after working hours (6pm-7pm). If the intranet was being accessed so soon after working hours, it lent credibility to the idea that users were accessing on their commute home and most probably from a mobile device on a non-wifi connection.
Actions and Value
From the two weeks of sample data we were able to make conclusions about performance backed by quantifiable data. We learnt that our intranet was not optimised for mobile access and that user experience was negatively affected by long load times on a phone network connections.
More importantly it allowed us to make a case for optimising this page to the larger business. After all, it was the most visited page and therefore the most impacted by a high average load time, any work done to improve this page would lead to immediate savings in performance and time, as well impacting user engagement on the intranet more positively.
Next month we're going to follow up with a similar case study on increasing user engagement, but this time we'll be focusing on how we monitor user behaviour to make changes to our intranet.
For more information regarding web analytics, feel free to give us a ring, we're always more than happy to help.