The purpose of analytics is to track user behavior on a website or app so that we can understand the effectiveness of our design and make adjustments to better meet user goals and business needs.
One of the problems of analytics tracking is that it can only provide a certain level of granularity. The easiest way to configure website analytics is to work on the page level. With this setup, data is recorded each time a user clicks to a new page. We get some good information such as what page the user arrived from, which page they clicked to and how long they spent on the page.
However, what the user did while they were on the page remains a mystery. Did they spend 3 minutes on the page reading our content and flipping through our photo gallery? Or did they spend 3 minutes away from their computer stretching their legs and getting a cup of coffee? We’d like to know this so that we can improve our design in the most effective ways possible.
We can see this kind of improvement happening with unsurprising frequency on Amazon.com. They scour through analytics to see exactly which widgets and page elements are used most often to convert browsers into purchasers. A small tweak can mean an increase in Amazon’s bottom line. A short visual history of Amazon’s shopping cart widget makes this clear.
This is where event tracking comes into play. Event tracking is a simple piece of code that can be added to just about any page element – image, tab, button, graphic or even a text link. When the user interacts with the element (e.g., flips through a photo gallery), the interactions are tracked and can be analyzed much like other analytics data.