Testing your responsive web design with Google analytics

Not a while ago, websites were specifically designed for laptops and desktop computers. These two were treated as one entity and therefore, whenever a web design company was creating content; it was aimed at fulfilling the PC experience. Mobile phones were considered as gadgets for making calls and texting. As the years have come to pass, change was inevitable. The digital design industry came up with a new concept, which they dubbed as the Responsive Web Design that sought to increase readership of web content. The change has not been anything short of a revolution. With that said, one thing remains constant; Responsive Web Design is here to stay and holds a bright future. The only begging question is, ‘‘what impact will it have on analytics and conversion rate optimization?''

responsive web design



Understanding the Evolution of Responsive Web Design  

The surge of a plethora of internet-enabled devices was responsible for the development of this concept. With the manufacturing of PCs, laptops, smartphones and tablets with a wide range of screen resolution the adjustment was inevitable.

In the recent past, the mobile web usage capacity has increased tremendously hence calling for the designing of responsive web page to cater for this audience. With that said, it has become challenging to deliver effective web content to the different internet-enabled devices. The main reason given for this is that web designers' consideration is no longer on the browsers compatibility but the device compatibility as well.

As we speak, Responsive Web Design has become the most dominant method when it comes to developing and designing web pages. The evolution of Responsive Web Design has led us to a juncture where front-end developers start with the content and then go ahead to set breakpoints when the content ''breaks''.

It is strongly believed that content-centric breakpoints is the way forward even if they call for constant monitoring of the website to identify when it breaks. Gaining access to such information can help in providing hints on the kind of devices/form factors to test.

In this particular piece, you'll learn exactly how Google Analytics works with other tools to show performance metrics across form factors.

The Relevance of Form Factor

Form factors are supposed to help prevent incompatibility problems existing between multiple hardware manufacturers. It is always easier to optimize the user experience using a particular device or family devices for that matter. However, it is much harder to create a device specific experience for all kinds of gadgets. This is basically because of the diversity of the internet-enabled devices.

With that said every internet-enabled device boast of having a form factor of its own. You can easily identify the device experiences using any of the three categories enlisted below:

  • Usage/posture
  • Input method
  • Output method

It is important to note that devices tend to vary between these categories making them to get different form factors. This can explain why it is prudent to monitor a responsive web page using form factor as the main dimension. Using form factor, as the primary dimension will help indicate which kind of gadget needs to be tested for usability.

Google Analytics

In as much as Google Analytics is a powerful tool, it remains as one of the easiest reporting outlets that allow you to decide what data you want to look at and customize any of your reports. All these can be done in a matter of just a few clicks.

The tools gives the user an opportunity to measure the sales, the conversion rate and goes ahead to give you an insightful take on exactly how the visitors have used the site, how the arrived and above all how to keep them interested in your website.

As mentioned above, it is quite easy to use this report platform. You start by feeding data to Google Analytics. To learn more about this click here.

Analyzing Data

Google Analytics can be used to effectively analyze the responsive rate. Once the data is fed in Google Analytics it then needs to be inspected. There are a number of custom variables that are available in Analytics, which can be used during the inspection. Start by clicking:

Audience> Custom > Custom Variables

responsive web design
For those individuals using Universal Analytics, they can easily access the custom dimensions that are available just like any other dimension.


responsive web design


From above it is quite clear to note that form factors normally behave differently. Depending on your web site, you can pick the best metric to focus on. Most importantly, pay attention to the bounce rate and the pages per visit.

The Dashboard Widget

Google analytics is endowed with dashboard widgets that are designed to alert one and give a visual impression of how the webpage performs with changes in certain form factors. The dashboard gives a high level outlook of some of the most important metrics such as the bounce rate and page impressions per visit and how they perform across form factors. Here is a good example:

responsive web design


From creating the above widget, you need to create a few other widgets that will display the visits and the bounce rate as per the form factor. This widget should indicate if indeed the changes in the website have led to a positive or negative impact. Here is how:


responsive web design



From this article, it is quite clear to see just how important Google Analytics is in visualizing data and how performance per form factor is critical when it comes to monitoring a web's metric.

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