The Complete User Analysis Guide: Personas to Design to Analytics

With emphasis often placed on data analytics, you know by now it’s important to track what’s going on with your users. It’s often hard to understand what to track, what to look for, and why any of it matters.

The fact is, not all data is useful, and there are better ways of tracking, analyzing, and applying the information you have about your users than others. We’ve broken down six main steps to follow to make sure you do user analysis right, to gain meaningful insight about your users. We’ll be covering how to start the process by setting up personas, how to map out the user journey, how to set up your analytics software – and everything in between.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, we’ll cover the basics of what user analysis is and why it is so vital to your business. This way you can think about why these steps are valuable as you learn about each one in detail.

What is user analysis and why is it so important?

User analysis is the process by which engineers, developers, and designers track how users engage and interact with their software, product, or application in an attempt to improve their product, bring more users in, improve user engagement with their product, and the general success of their application.

To make sure you focus on the right metrics and know how to use the information you gather properly, you must first understand why user analysis is so important, and what you stand to gain from tracking user behaviors. Here are the main reasons:

  • Understand how users engage with your product: Learn the features that are most popular, how and why the product is used the way it is, and what your users want from it
  • Develop user profiles based on user actions and attributes: Establishing distinct personas will help you understand how different groups of users interact with your solution, which can help you design a more appealing product for each group
  • Gather quantifiable data on your users—This allows you to identify, detect, and eventually predict trends and behavior by users
  • Product design and development: Making the right decisions based on informed metrics tracking and a detailed customer roadmap will improve decision making as it relates to design changes, new/updated features, and onboarding strategy
  • Analyze and apply information: Product design and development updates affect user experience, retention, churn, and conversion, so using your data to inform this decision making is key to your success

The user analysis process from start to finish

Product design and development is a continuous process. From creation, it should be an endless cycle of receiving, analyzing, and applying feedback to make the product better. This information can come in various forms, including surveys, data analytics, and customer feedback. Use each source as needed, making sure to track the metrics that matter most to your software, product, or application.

To get serious results, you will need to be methodical about your process. Randomly choosing metrics that (you think) matter the most to you and applying them to all users won’t give you good results – all you’ll end up doing is wasting resources. We’ve got a clear, six-step process with user analysis examples that will outline how to perform user research the right way:

  1. Starting with personas: Learn how to identify your core users
  2. User journey analysis—mapping out users: Learn how to create a customer journey map
  3. Product design, creation, and implementation: Learn how to identify the metrics you need to track based on your unique product
  4. Selecting a user analytics tool: Learn what you need to know about what different analytics platforms have to offer
  5. How to set up your user analysis software: Learn how to put the tool in place, and how to start using it properly
  6. Analyze and apply your findings: Learn how to put all your hard work into practice with your product

Let’s get started!

Step 1: Starting with personas

The number of people using your product is not the only thing you need to consider in the designing stages of your product. Knowing who is using your product, and the user paths they follow within your software or application is important for improving engagement.

Develop user personas by identifying characteristics, attributes, and behavior of your users/customers. These personas are meant to represent a collection of people that fit these categories, and represents your users in a general, but in a quantifiable way. It’s best to name these personas so they are easy to work with. User personas help you envision your target audience, allowing you to draw in more users, keep them happier, and increase your conversions!

What Now?/Next Step: Once you’ve developed these groups, start developing user personas with this guide!

Step 2: User journey analysis—mapping out users

Now that we know who our users are, we need to identify user paths to analyze this data. This is a crucial step for applying data to your product to gain the greatest impact! Without doing user journey analysis, the personas you’ve developed won’t help you nearly as much.

User journey analysis is the process of examining the path your user takes from the moment they interact with your website or app to becoming an active user. These “maps” of each persona’s unique user experience outline every step a person can follow when using the product. Better understand:

  • How users download your product?
  • What is the onboarding process?
  • What training materials or guidance is provided?
  • What are the first actions users take within your product?
  • What incentives are given to return or reuse the application?

There may be more than one user journey, and some may be more common than others. This is true if you have a product that is on multiple platforms, such as web and mobile. However, you’ll want to outline all possible stages of the journey to understand the funnels that lead your potential users to full, converting, active users.

Next Step: Funnel analysis is the way to measure and understand how users are progressing through your various maps, and most importantly, will identify areas with a lot of drop-off. Make sure to track metrics related to these funnels using analytics tools to decrease your churn rate and create more engaged customers.

Step 3: Product design, creation, and implementation

Product design is often thought of as a conceptual, artistic, and creative process. But to produce a product that users want, it takes more than imagination and innovation.

Usability analytics related to the design, creation, and implementation stages of your product development is essential for making these processes flow seamlessly. It gives you the knowledge to make winning decisions about your product that will change its success. A metric-driven product design process is ideal to custom tailor your product to what users want!

Here are some best practices for product design:

  1. Identify your problems and solve them—Don’t make updates or add features that don’t clearly address the feedback you’re getting from your users

  2. Master of one—Focus on your task, keep it minimal, and be the best at what you do (in other words, don’t try to do too much and waste resources!)

  3. Plan and execute—Be methodical but deliberate in your planning and execution; don’t move too fast but don’t fail to capitalize on an opportunity

  4. Design to build—Consider the manufacturing process and how the product will be brought to market during design to save time and money later on

  5. Full customer experience—Develop an instructive, meaningful, and immersive ux that takes packaging, marketing, and product use into account

Next Step: To dive deeper into the real-life application of these practices, see the 7 lessons we learned about product development from our own users.

Step 4: Selecting a user analytics tool

Choosing a tool to track everything you need for your unique strategy comes down to the depth of user behavior analysis you require. The more information you have, the better insight you will have into your customers. This should give you a leg up on competitors, allowing you to adapt to what your users want –and don’t want– faster and more accurately.

Here are a few great tools to use depending on your user analysis strategy:

Amplitude Behavioral Platform
Gives you a complete 360-degree view of user behavior, including how active they are, where and how they engage, and full customer paths. Examine every path users take, and configure data in different ways to gain meaningful insights. With real-time data, you can always understand exactly what’s happening with your product.

Google Analytics
As one of the most popular behavioral analytics tools on the market, it offers an easy to access platform, lets you display information in various ways, and export easily with simple integration. Pandering to the larger demographic, there aren’t as many unique metrics to dig deeper into every possible user path and where all drop-offs are occurring.

Clicky
Clicky is a great software application for user experience analysis, with a range of metrics that you can track. It also offers real-time data as opposed to delayed data like Google Analytics. However, the user experience and interface is slightly outdated and doesn’t compare to some of the other products available.

When it really comes down to it – the more you know the better. Having a user analytics tool that enables you to dive into the specific metrics that matter most to your business will help you get the full picture. With real-time, detailed metrics, a view of the full customer path, and an understanding of your user funnel, you will be able to gain real insights and make meaningful changes to increase engagement, retention, and conversions.

Next Step: Do a comparison of the top analytics tools to figure out which one best suits your product development.

Step 5: How to set up your user analytics software

Many of the user feedback tools used today are applications or extensions that can easily be downloaded and installed. You could sign in to a website, run an extension on a web browser, or open an application that runs on your computer or mobile device.

Many user analytics platforms are relatively accessible, but you will want to ensure that you can convert data between all the programs you use, so you want a platform that integrates well, like how Segment can be used to convert information from Clearbit, so it can be fed into Amplitude.

Choosing a tool will depend on how you want it to function. If you prefer running an application for ease-of-use of its dashboard, try to find an application. If you enjoy using an extension on a browser where you have other tools, consider a tool like that. Either way, you’ll want to experiment with the configuration of data once you get your user needs analysis tool running. Group related data sets together, creating a main page with all your most important metrics, and display the information in a way that best lets you compare and analyze!

Next Step: Take the onboarding tour for beginners from your tool of choice, like this stellar new users guide from Amplitude.

Step 6: Analyze and apply your findings

Finally, you’ve made it to the last step! All steps leading up to this are an essential part of the process, so make sure to perform them in succession to truly understand your users. This stage of the process is what makes all this hard work matter.

Now that you’ve analyzed the customer paths, found the best tools to use, and tracked all relevant metrics, you need to put this information to good use. With the information most relevant to your product, you now need to analyze it and apply it to your application.

Here are a few ways to use the data you have:

  • Pinpoint main causes of drop-off: Identify the largest drop-off points along your customer paths, onboarding processes, and customer lifecycle and learn where to focus your efforts first
  • Highlight product features: Figure out which product features are your biggest successes, and then highlight them, expand them, and improve your winners
  • Cut baggage: Eliminate the features that aren’t helping, allowing you to save time, resources, storage, etc.
  • Identify training opportunities: Seek out areas where users are having challenges using your product effectively or properly and improve on training resources to convince them why your product is valuable
  • Adapt to feedback: Use the information you get to adjust your product, marketing, and overall strategy to meet what they are asking of you

Next Step: Do some high-level learning about user analysis, like in this ultimate guide to mobile analytics.

What is most important to remember here is that—if done properly—this 6-step process to user data analysis will guarantee that you truly understand your users and what they like about your product. By taking the necessary steps to get information about your users, the insight you gain will help you make meaningful changes to drive growth, retention, engagement, conversions, and inevitably, achieve success.