In analytics there are pretty much 3 key metrics which you need to know about and use, regardless of what you design your website to do. These are;
• Page views
Each is important and tells you something different about your site.
Visitors (often called Users or Unique Visitors) is technically defined as;
“Count of all the Unique cookie_id’s/IP address+user agents during a given time period”
Now, going back to the party analogy I used before, that’s probably not going to be understood that easily. As a result I tend to simply say its the closest you can get to the actual number of people who come to your website. Now, this in itself is not 100% true, as there things few things that will make this number higher than the actual number of people. The most important is that ‘visitors’ generally measure the number of computers or devices that have come to your site, rather than people. If you imagine, me being the techy geek I am, I have a computer at home on my desk, an iPad in my hands, and a smartphone in my pocket. If I looked at your website from each, I would count as 3 visitors, but I would be only 1 person. Quite a level of variation there between the number of people and visitor account, wouldn’t you agree?
Even with this being the case, it is an important metric to use. Unless you force all of the actual people to sign up and log in each time they visit your site (which I’m sure any user experience expert will tell you is a BAD idea), its the closest you will get to the number of potential customers that have viewed your site.
This metric gives you an even better view of how your site is being used when used in conjunction with 2 other metrics, visits and page views, which I will look at in my next blog post.