Using Device Segments to Diagnose Site Issues [GA Segments Series]

diagnosing device problemsWith the increase in mobile device use comes a few challenges for web developers and marketers. Because visitors are coming to your site from a variety of devices, businesses have to accommodate an increasing number of user experience scenarios. This isn’t news — I’m sure your website is responsive and you’ve made all of the adjustments required for a good user experience across devices. However, unexpected problems arise and it’s possible that your visitors / customers might get hung up on an issue occurring in the checkout process on mobile or a page that is failing on tablet devices.

This is a situation where Google Analytics (GA) segments are useful. By applying segments to your reports in GA that compares performance across devices, you can examine where browsing or conversion experiences are interrupted. Here’s how:

Initial Diagnostics – Site Overview
To determine how each device is performing, I take a look at the Audience Overview report. Once I’ve navigated to this report, I apply the segments. To apply segments, choose “Add Segment.”

adding a new segment in google analyticsThen, search for each of the Desktop, Tablet, and Mobile segments. These are default segments in the tool, so you won’t need to create your own custom segments.

Choose each of these, remove the All Sessions segment, and select “Apply.”

applying segments in google analyticsNow that I have my segments selected and I’m in the Audience Overview report, I review basic performance metrics to see if there is any discrepancy in the performance, depending on the users’ device.

Considering the results below, it appears that Mobile has the lowest performance compared to Tablet and Desktop.

device audience overview performance

I say this because the second highest number of users come from Mobile, but have the highest bounce rate, the shortest avg. session duration, and the fewest pages / session. This tells me that my Mobile experience is not optimized for users and I need to find the source of the problem.

Dig in by looking at landing page performance.

google analytics landing page reportThe goal, when reviewing landing page performance, is to pinpoint the content that isn’t performing well on certain devices. Once I navigate to the landing page report and make sure that my segments are still applied, I can review the performance metrics to determine which pages are performing poorly on Mobile devices.

Again, I look at bounce rate and avg. session duration to find out which pages have the lowest engagement for Mobile device users. I also review conversion performance. If I see a page that receives consistent conversions on other devices, I can expect that the Mobile experience is failing somewhere in the conversion process.

Remedy site issues using web diagnostics tools.

There could be a variety of issues contributing to site problems:

  • Long load-time
  • Screen size
  • Browser support
  • Failed redirects
  • Flash
  • Error pages
  • Poor UX
  • Content failure

Now that I’ve reviewed site performance by device and determined which pages are experiencing problems, I can perform a diagnostic exploration. Using my own Mobile device and Google’s site performance tools and reports, I can find out why site failures are occurring and provide that information to my development team to address.

There are a number of free resources to assist in diagnosing site failures across devices. I will discuss these and how to use them, in my next post.