Workshop: Website Visualisations

The first Digital Analytics weekly workshop was held on the 21st May 2021. This is a new initiative from ZHS Orchards to share our knowledge in a different way to a different audience. The workshops are free to attend, timed for the European lunch hour (1pm CEST) and designed to be as practical as possible with plenty of opportunity for questions.

The first workshop was on the creation of website visualisation maps. Peter took the audience through

  • The purpose of website visualisations maps
  • what they consist of
  • how to create your own website visualisation map
  • a step by step run through of the creation of the ZHS Orchards website visualisation

This session was not recorded (future ones will be) but the deck used is below. Questions asked during the session are included below with their answers.

To get notifications of future workshop topics, please connect with me on LinkedIn or follow me on Twitter.

Audience Questions

Have you ever drawn the maps based on the actual visitor flows (i.e. frequency) measured from the data?

Short answer is no. These visualisations are meant to tell a story. If you base it purely on data, you will get lines going everywhere between all individual pages. I personally don’t think it is possible to create visualisations, the versions which are simply enough to understand, based purely on data.

I have a couple of times filled in the maps, once complete with data showing the scale of the visitor flows to understand if it reflects expected behaviour. It is a great way of visualising the data and I intend to do it more in the future.

Where would marketing landing pages fit in your visualization?

If you mean pages created to work as marketing landing pages, these would be one or more page nodes. Arrows would go from there to the intended next step in the customer journey but it is unlikely any arrows are directed to the page (unless you are showing traffic sources within the visualisation). There could be multiple page nodes if there are different types of marketing landing pages.

If you mean existing pages, of which some are expected to be the landing pages, I would indicate this in some way. I have previously used a symbol on a corner of a page node to show it is a designated landing page or it contains a specific piece of functionality, etc.

Isn’t everything a potential landing page? 

Yes but which pages do you expect people to land on. Nominating these pages through this exercise and then comparing to reality with data can be very informative.

Is this exercise possible or valid after a site already built?

Definitely, in nearly every case the website was already live before the map was created. I think it would be a great exercise to do for a new website, it would likely improve the design of the website and would definitely improve the tracking that is implemented, but is rarely done (it should be every time).

Do you end up making multiple maps for different service offerings e.g our site has an ecommerce shop but then also offer b2b services then also sell events

You have the option here to create sub maps to represent different parts of the website, especially if visitors are unlikely to navigate back & forth between the different service offerings. That allows the people using the website visualisation to stay focused on the website section relevant to them. You would include a symbol to show where a visitor could navigate to a different site section (treating it the same as a 3rd party website) without any of the detail.

I expect there would still be an overall website visualisation though, that combines the website visualisation maps into a single picture.

Is this approach possible if you want to follow the customer pre and post website?

Definitely, it is up to you and the story you want to tell as to the boundaries of the visualisation map. If it makes sense to draw up the complete customer journey, of which the website is only one part of the experience, then definitely do so.

I would make it clear visually where referring to marketing activity, the actual website, 3rd party websites and communications via other means through the use of either colours or shapes. But this is definitely a viable option.

How long roughly does it take to finish a visualization map. say for a services site like yours and again for a retail ecommerce site?

This does depend a fair amount on the amount of practice you have had creating website visualisation maps. For me, I would want to complete a simple visualisation map in 30m to 60m and a detailed one in one day. Often the time goes in the final 5% of pages, as these can be of all different types and purposes, taking up a lot of time to identify and place them within the visualisation. It is faster if you have a structure to start with, so retail websites should be faster given the retail visualisation template.

My rough rule of thumb would be half a day for a known sector or simple website, up to a day for a more detailed/complex website and potentially longer for multi purpose, multi domain experiences. With less practice, you will need to at least double those timings.

Would you suggest starting from the home page/ landing pages or would you try to do it backwards/from the checkout?

Good question with the consultant’s answer of It Depends. Having said that, I personally generally start with the home page, work my way through the primary customer journeys and then fill in the gaps. However, if you know the one key customer journey, good to start by getting that down on the page and filling in the visualisation around it.

Any More Questions?

Get in touch in the comments with any questions you have yourself. Use the button below if you woudl like a discussion around my advice & support to create your own website visualisation and how this can be used to set up your analytics, understand visitor behaivour and ultimately improve your business performance.

Don’t forget to follow along for future Digital Analytics weekly workshops – held on Fridays during your lunch hour if you are based in Europe (1pm CEST).