World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Path analysis (computing)

Article Id: WHEBN0007328483
Reproduction Date:

Title: Path analysis (computing)  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Path analysis, Digital strategy, Management science, Web analytics, Business intelligence
Collection: Applied Data Mining, Business Intelligence, Business Terms, Management Science, Web Analytics
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Publication
Date:
 

Path analysis (computing)

Path analysis, is the analysis of a path, which is a portrayal of a chain of consecutive events that a given user or cohort performs during a set period of time while using a website, online game, or eCommerce platform. As a subset of behavioral analytics, path analysis is a way to understand user behavior in order to gain actionable insights into the data. Path analysis provides a visual portrayal of every event a user or cohort performs as part of a path during a set period of time.

While it is possible to track a user’s path through the site, and even show that path as a visual representation, the real question is how to gain these actionable insights. If path analysis simply outputs a "pretty"[1] graph, while it may look nice, it does not provide anything concrete to act upon.

Contents

  • Examples 1
  • Evolution 2
  • Understanding visitors 3
  • Funnels and goals 4
  • Using maps 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • Further reading 8

Examples

In order to get the most out of path analysis the first step would be to determine what needs to be analyzed and what are the goals of the analysis. A company might be trying to figure out why their site is running slow, are certain types of users interested in certain pages or products, or if their user interface is set up in a logical way.

Now that the goal has been set there are a few ways of performing the analysis. If a large percentage of a certain cohort, people between the ages of 18-25, logs into an online game, creates a profile and then spends the next 10 minutes wandering around the menu page, then it may be that the user interface is not logical. By seeing this group of users following the path that they did a developer will be able to analyze the data and realize that after creating a profile, the “play game” button does not appear. Thus, path analysis was able to provide actionable data for the company to act on and fix an error.

In eCommerce, path analysis can help customize a shopping experience to each user. By looking at what products other customers in a certain cohort looked at before buying one, a company can suggest “items you may also like” to the next customer and increase the chances of them making a purchase. Also, path analysis can help solve performance issues on a platform. For example, a company looks at a path and realizes that their site freezes up after a certain combinations of events. By analyzing the path and the progression of events that led to the error, the company can pinpoint the error and fix it.

Evolution

Historically path analysis fell under the broad category of website analytics, and related only to the analysis of paths through websites. Path analysis in website analytics is a process of determining a sequence of pages visited in a visitor session prior to some desired event, such as the visitor purchasing an item or requesting a newsletter. The precise order of pages visited may or may not be important and may or may not be specified. In practice, this analysis is done in aggregate, ranking the paths (sequences of pages) visited prior to the desired event, by descending frequency of use. The idea is to determine what features of the website encourage the desired result. "Fallout analysis," a subset of path analysis, looks at "black holes" on the site, or paths that lead to a dead end most frequently, paths or features that confuse or lose potential customers. [2]

With the advent of big data along with web based applications, online games, and eCommerce platforms, path analysis has come to include much more than just web path analysis. Understanding how users move through an app, game, or other web platform are all part of modern day path analysis.

Understanding visitors

In the real world when you visit a shop the shelves and products are not placed in a random order. The shop owner carefully analyzes the visitors and path they walk through the shop, especially when they are selecting or buying products. Next the shop owner will reorder the shelves and products to optimize sales by putting everything in the most logical order for the visitors. In a supermarket this will typically result in the wine shelf next to a variety of cookies, chips, nuts, etc. Simply because people drink wine and eat nuts with it.

In most web sites there is a same logic that can be applied. Visitors who have questions about a product will go to the product information or support section of a web site. From there they make a logical step to the frequently asked questions page if they have a specific question. A web site owner also wants to analyze visitor behavior. For example if a web site offers products for sale, the owner wants to convert as many visitors to a completed purchase. If there is a sign-up form with multiple pages, web site owners want to guide visitors to the final sign-up page.

Path analysis answers typical questions like:
Where do most visitors go after they enter my home page?
Is there a strong visitor relation between product A and product B on my web site?.
Questions that can't be answered by page hits and unique visitors statistics.

Funnels and goals

Google Analytics provides a path function with funnels and goals. A predetermined path of web site pages is specified and every visitor walking the path is a goal. This approach is very helpful when analyzing how many visitors reach a certain destination page, called an end point analysis.[3]

Using maps

The paths visitors walk in a web site can lead to an endless number of unique paths. As a result there is no point in analyzing each path, but to look for the strongest paths. These strongest paths are typically shown in a graphical map or in text like: Page A --> Page B --> Page D --> Exit.

See also

References

  1. ^ Thayer, Shelby. "Why Do We Care About Path Analysis?". Trending Upward. 
  2. ^  
  3. ^ "Analysis Tools". Google Analytics. 

Further reading

  • "Determining Visitor Behavior Patterns". Web Analytics Tutorial. 
  • Gupta, Srishti. "Is User Path Analysis The Right Path?". 
  • Harris, Jeff. "Big Data and Predictive Analytics" (PDF). Xerox Services. 
  • Cutroni, Justin. "Path Analysis in Google Analytics with Flow Visualization". Analytics Talk. 
  • "Big Data" (PDF). Technology Roadmap. Infocomm Development Authority of Sinagapore. 
  • Coren, Yehoshua. "Understanding Google Analytics Multi Channel Funnels". Online-Behavior.com. 
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.
 


Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.