Bringing Google Analytics to life with a guillotine

Print outs on the wall

We’re temporarily housed in a larger office than normal over the summer so I took the opportunity to use the bare white walls to map out some of our information architecture.

On one wall we’ve got printouts of all the webpages of a typical department (if there is such a thing).

Taking the content out of the screen and onto a wall allows you to see all of it together without scrolling and clicking. It’s a different perspective and it can be surprising to realise just how long some of your pages are. I’ve ensured the printouts are in a consistent ratio using the aptly named ‘Awesome Screenshot’ Chrome extension.

Printouts waiting to be guillotined

Ribbons are used to show the links between the different pages. This can demonstrate where you’re expecting a user to follow too many steps, or where content has been isolated. It’s similar to a wireframe, but with real content, real design and real analytics data to inform decisions.

Printouts on the wall

A yellow Post-it on each page represents the number of page views in the last 30 days. It’s the sort of thing that a web editor can find easily within Google Analytics, but presenting it this way makes it much more visible to others. You can see immediately in the image above which pages we’ll be investigating based on their page views!

The online prospectus entries for the department are on two other walls. This helps to emphasise how they are distinct from the department webpages – in a different part of the website with a completely different set of navigation. We were able to show just how many page views the main page for the course in the online prospectus gets and how surprisingly few links into it we were providing.

The online prospectus

Pink Post-its on the main ribbons show the number of users passing along the links. Additional pink Post-its on key pages detail the breakdown of traffic from search engines, etc.

Beyond what we were setting out to achieve, the process has led us to a lot of positive conclusions, with a long list of Actions to follow up on as a result of it. I’d definitely recommend trying something similar with your university content.



Web Manager for the College of Arts and Law at the University of Birmingham.

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