Workshop: Visualising the Volkswagen Belgium website

Do you want to be able to see at a glance how a large complicated website (or app) is structured? Better still, do you want a tool to identify website issues, leakages and dead ends, for website improvements? This workshop covered all this and more, using the Volkswagen Belgium website as a case study.
I was challenged to prove how website visualisation maps work with this website and have produced a detailed understandable result. From this visualisation, it appears conversion paths are duplicated. It highlights the opportunity to compare performance on key pages using click to commence conversions as the key metric. And there are opportunities highlighted to use insights can be used to improve page layouts, CTAs and the content included within pages.
The recording of the workshop is below. Underneath that are the answers to questions raised during the workshop and a link to download the deck used. This workshop was based on a blog post published last month, you can view the practice and final website visualisation there.

Audience Questions

Do you use the thickness of the lines representing visitor paths to visually display the top paths?

Not in the original visualisation, at that stage we don’t know which paths are the most used. A key page node may be highlighted but I have always left paths equivalent.

If the visualisation is then used to tell a story on visitor behaviour, then highlighting key visitor paths would be a smart way of communicating that story.

Have you ever had to map a journey within a secure site, where you haven’t had access to all screens in the journey – how would you go about this?

This is definitely a possibility. First of all, you ask for access, either with a dummy user account or on an identical staging website. There is nothing like being able to see the website yourself from a visitor perspective.

I have had to fill out a lot of forms in my time creating visualisations, typically using dummy/test details. That can only get you so far, until you need to pay money or the forms are incredibly long & detailed.

Otherwise you need to get into the web analytics tool, their equivalent of navigation summary reports and to then track visitor navigation that way. This approach can expose paths where you don’t see the links visually but it also hides what actions the visitor is meant to take.

In a large company, which department would this usually sit? For example, I’m a single specialist however, we have a large digital and architecture team. They build and I analyse?

In my opinion, this should be owned by a UX department, assuming one exists, but otherwise by the website Product Manager. The analyst should be involved in creating the visualisaton, to ensure it is correct and meets our needs.  But whoever is responsible for the website design, structure and navigation needs to be the owner, updating the visualisation as sections/pages/actions are added or removed.

As an analyst, can you image being shown future website updates in this visual manner, with requests to add tracking before it goes live…

Did you consider having an interactive map with filters to focus on specific journeys or user flows and to maybe highlight significant positive or negative differences benchmarks on metrics? Adding to interactive map with filters question, would be a good idea to “overlay” key metrics for key sections?

I have numerous features I would love to include with these website visualisations if anyone ever wanted to provide the funding. It would start with the tool to create the visualisation, then an interactive tool for tagging purposes and then extending to a data visualisation/analysis tool.

You can overlay key metrics manually once the visualisation has been created and, as per above, it is a great way to tell a story.

Would you also consider to create a dashboard with metrics related to each step (like drop-offs) with a similar visualisation Map?

Yes but I would think of it more of a report than a dashboard. This would be a set of equivalent pages (e.g. for Volkswagen Belgium, all of the model variant pages) with metrics for the different actions that can be taken from these pages. The performance of these pages can then easily be compared using internal benchmarks. It is similar to the Ecommerce Merchandise report.

I was thinking if this could be automated a bit that would be useful.

I agree, it would be great if this could be automated. And to identify all pages is definitely possible, to group into page nodes should be possible and to identify all visitor paths, also possible – even to filter these so only the top travelled paths are visualised.

To make the resultant visualisation simple, to be able to tell a story with it? That is what I question. I can’t find the tool I used to create this visualisation right now but here is an alternative visual map of the simple ZHS Orchards website.

Any more questions?

What do you think now of this approach to website visualisation maps? Can you see the possibilities, either for immediate improvements or once some level of data has been analysed?

Please get in touch if you want a website visualisation map for your own business.