August 17, 2020 The Importance of Real-World Analytics
How do you determine where to focus when debugging your church website?
At Fishhook, we love creating websites for churches. Part of any website development project is debugging and testing your work in various environments that may interact with the site. Today, that means previewing the site on multiple browsers, operating systems, devices -- and because we're building responsive websites, even multiple viewport sizes. The possibilities and combinations can seem endless! Another challenge is that every project has a limited amount of time and budget. So, how do we determine where to focus in our debugging process?
For starters, there are websites devoted to analyzing how the world at large is interacting with the web. Sites like StatCounter and NetMarketShare provide a snapshot of the "market share" that the most popular devices, browsers and systems are receiving.
This is a good place to start, but it may not be the most accurate representation of actual users visiting your site. Market share sites like these can vary in how they compile data and report usage, and only offer general averages. Instead of looking at generalities, examine your site’s data to better gauge user interactions and help predict future usage.
If you've been running Google Analytics or other visitor-tracking scripts on your site, you already have the most accurate picture of who your users are and what technologies they're using. That data can inform how much time and effort should be spent testing and debugging various scenarios.
For instance, while we do keep an eye on market share sites and tailor our process to their results, because we work with many clients in the church space, we also have access to more specific statistics in this niche market. A recent example: anecdotally, Internet Explorer gets a pretty bad rap. And truthfully, Microsoft itself no longer supports IE and has encouraged its user base to upgrade to a different browser. However, I know from personal experience that IE is still the default browser on all of the Indianapolis Public Library’s computers. And as we looked at specific data from multiple churches of various sizes, we found that at least 2-5% of users are still using IE to view their church website. In the case of a larger congregation, that can mean hundreds of people.
Because we looked at real-world data, we were able to determine the best approach to provide a great experience for the vast majority of users, not just those using the latest technology.
Do you have questions about who is using your website and how they're interacting with it? We'd love to provide some insights with a website audit. Give us a call or chat and we'll start the deep dive!
Written by Ben Goshow
Lead Web Developer