Best Practices

Events vs. Pageviews: 3 Situations When Pageviews Matter for Your Web App

Should you track page views in your event-based analytics dashboard?

Alicia Shiu

Growth Marketer

One question we get from many of our customers with web applications is whether they can, or should, track pageviews in addition to events on our analytics platform. Most of these customers already use Google Analytics for counting pageviews, and use our analytics platform for tracking key in-app actions that users take.

Understandably, this setup isn’t ideal, since your data is in (at least) 2 places and requires more time and management to monitor, as opposed to having all of your metrics in one tidy platform. One customer recently asked us if they could track both events and pageviews in Amplitude for precisely this reason.

For those unfamiliar with the terminology, event-based analytics tracks user actions: for example, in a photo sharing app, events could include taking a picture, applying filters, and sharing a photo with friends. This is in contrast with traditional page view-based analytics, which works great for websites but provides far less information for a web-based application, in which there are many actions that users can take within one webpage.

Typically, event tracking should get rid of your need to track page views, especially in a web application. Instead of tracking when a user views a particular page, you instead track the action that the user takes to end up on that page.

But back to the original question: can (and should) you track page views in your event-based analytics dashboard? For the first part of the question, yes, you can track page views using Amplitude or your event-based tracking platform of choice. All you need to do is track an event called “viewed page X”, for example. But should you track page views? Is it useful?

Do page view counts tell you how users are interacting with your product?

If you’re facing a similar dilemma, the first question to ask yourself is: why do you want to track page views? In general, page view counts don’t give you as much insight into your users when compared to other event-based metrics like funnel drop-offs and retention. Knowing that your users viewed a certain page doesn’t really help you answer the most important business questions you have about how users are engaging with your product. If you just want a general idea of how your site is doing, or which pages are viewed the most, these are all things that page view-based analytics like Google Analytics do really well— so you should keep using it for that. Event-based analytics dashboards are specifically designed for tracking user actions, so clogging up your dashboard with all of your page view data won’t be very useful (and will up your analytics costs to boot).

Now, that’s not to say that you should never track any page views alongside your events. It’s a good general rule of thumb, but like all rules there are exceptions. The only reason to track page views is if doing so will help you to answer important business questions about how users are interacting with your product. We never recommend tracking all page views on our dashboard, but there are certainly scenarios where it’s okay to track view counts for a few pages that are critical to your web app.

1. Track a page that is a critical step in your funnel

For example, you may want to track views of a page that is an important step in your sign-up funnel. Of users that view that page, how many go on to complete the sign-up process, and how many leave the process? By tracking users who view that page, you can include it in your funnel analyses as well as use it to segment users into cohorts.

2. Track your landing page to measure conversion rates

Another use of tracking views of a particular page is to measure the conversion rate of your landing page. You can track an event called ‘Hit landing page’ that triggers when a user views that page. The ‘Hit landing page’ event can then be used in your sign-up funnel to look at what percent of visits lead to a user signing up for an account. You can also track which actions users complete right after hitting the landing page (ex. try demo, view more info, etc).

3. Track your A/B tests

A similar use case is to track page views while you’re A/B testing two versions of a page. Say you have a page that prompts your users to upgrade from the free version of your app to a paid plan. If you implement tracking of two versions of the upgrade page while you’re A/B testing, you can easily use the analytics dashboard to determine which version results in a higher conversion rate to the paid plan.

To sum up: it’s fine to track certain page views alongside event-based tracking, as long as those pages are limited to essential pages that can provide you with useful, actionable data on how your users are behaving. We strongly recommend that you do not track all of your page views in the same dashboard, as this isn’t useful, will crowd out your event data, and increase your data volume, and thus your analytics costs.

Hopefully this is useful information for those of you with web applications. Best of luck with your apps, and of course, feel free to leave questions and feedback in the comments. There are probably some key use cases for tracking page views that we haven’t thought of yet!

For more specific details on how to implement tracking of page views as events on Amplitude, check out our Quick Start Guide as well as the installation & integration section of our Docs. As always, you can send your questions to support@amplitude.com.

Published: 09/02/14

Alicia Shiu

Alicia is a Growth Marketing Manager at Amplitude, where she works on projects and experiments spanning top of funnel, website optimization, and the new user experience. Prior to Amplitude, she worked on biomedical research (running very different experiments) at Stanford.