Nov 13, 2020, Consulting

Google Analytics – how to gather and interpret user data?

Kasia Grużlewska UX Designer

Who are your website’s or app’s users? What do you know about them? How to understand the data from Google Analytics? GA reports can provide us with a multitude of information. Some are useful, other demand proper interpretation or can simply be omitted. Which are which? We’ll try to explain.

Who are the “Users”?

When Google Analytics reports show us information about users that visited our website, we usually think that the numbers correspond with the real people. Unfortunately, it’s not true. “Users” are browsers that connect with our website. One person can, for example, use a laptop, smartphone, and a tablet to visit our page – and it gives us three different browsers. What does it mean? Analytics will recognize them as three separate “users”. It might get complicated when the browser has its cookies clocked, e.g. in incognito mode. In this case, every person is recognized as another “new user”. In practise, one real person can be tabbed by GA as a few or even a dozen of users. It’s worth analyzing this value and making the data we take into consideration accurate

Demographic data

The report below shows information about sex and age. GA recognizes two sexes – a female and a male. It draws conclusions based on the internet user’s behaviour. The age is divided into segments suggested by GA: 18–24, 25–34, 35–44, 45–54, 55–64, 65+. It happens that the number of users determined by age is lower than all the users. It means that the GA mechanism didn’t recognize some of the users’ age and didn’t include them in the results.

Geographic data

The geographic data will show us what countries and even cities our users come from. However, we have to be cautious – some of the internet providers will show a completely different city than the one our user is actually in. 

We can also find out what languages are used by the people who visit our website. It all depends on the language used in the browser. If a person uses English and not the native language, GA will classify them as an English speaking user. We should consider that while evaluating the traffic on the website and making the decision about creating its new language version.

Users’ interests

GA provides information about users’ interests as well as the market segment they are assigned to and categorized by Google. But we also have to be cautious here. The evaluating algorithms are not perfect and the results they show can be quite surprising. If you’re curious what Google thinks about you, you can check it here :).

Technologies and devices

These reports provide us with information about the metrics such as the user’s internet browser, operating system, and the internet itself. A possibility of spam filters based on the internet providers data is an additional advantage.

Looking at the mobility reports, we can check what devices were used while visiting our website with an accuracy of up to a particular model, e.g. Samsung SM-G960U Galaxy S9. 

Users’ behaviour

Analyzing the data provided by GA, we can estimate who our users are and also how they behave on our website. Reports answer questions such as:

  • What were the most frequently visited subpages?
  • How much time did the user spend browsing the website?
  • What was the users’ flow?
  • What pages did the users most commonly visit?
  • Where did the users leave the website?

What kind of data shouldn’t be gathered?

The EU regulation (GDPR), in force from May 25, 2018, imposes requirements regarding the collection of personal data – PII (Personal Identifiable Information). It forbids gathering sensitive personal data such as: email addresses, phone numbers, and names. If such data appear on our Analytics account, Google is able to block them. They should be protected from being sent to GA.

If you don’t know how to analyze your data, our experienced UX team might help. Just tell us what you need!