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Public Reporting

Mason Core Website: Academics Page Click-Through Analysis

Background

The Academics page of the Mason core website provides links to lists of academic programs, grouped by program category/interest area. The links are in the form of ‘category tiles’ that each provide the title for the category and an associated image. When the user hovers over a tile, the tile display changes to show a short introductory text and a “Learn More” link which sends the user to the full category listing on a separate page. The category tiles are organized in alphabetical order in a grid going down the page.

The tile categories, and their respective order and row position are indicated below:

Title Position Row
Accelerated Master’s Programs 1 1
Arts and Creative Study 2 1
Business and Economics 3 2
Computer Science and Information Technology 4 2
Education 5 3
Engineering 6 3
Forensic Science and Criminology 7 3
Global 8 3
Government and Policy 9 4
Health and Well-Being 10 4
Languages and Culture 11 4
Law 12 4
Liberal Arts 13 5
Science and Biomedicine 14 5
Security 15 5
Social and Human Behavior 16 5
Social Impact 17 6
Sports, Recreation and Tourism 18 6
Sustainability 19 6

The Question

All things being equal, you would expect that users would click on those categories that are of interest to them, but does the layout of the page have a measurable effect on user behavior?

Specifically, is there a correlation between the position of the tile on the page (specifically how far down the page the tile is located) and the number of clicks it receives?

Click-Through Data from Google Analytics

I ran a 3-month analysis of the data on clicks from the Academics page to any of the program category pages. Specifically, what we are measuring is pageviews of the category pages which were immediately preceded by a pageview of the Academics page. Here are the Google Analytics report specifications:

Account: Mason Office of Communications and Marketing 01
Property: www2.gmu.edu
View: [PROD] www2.gmu.edu – default 2.0 (2017-06-25)
Date Range: Jul 1, 2017 – Sep 30, 2017
Report: Behavior -> Site Content -> All Pages
Secondary Dimension: Previous Page Path
Filter: Page -> Matching RegExp -> ^/academics/(accelerated-masters-programs|arts-creative-study|business-and-economics|computer-science-and-information-technology|education|engineering|forensic-science-and-criminology|global|government-and-policy|health-and-well-being|languages-and-culture|law|liberal-arts|science-and-biomedicine|security|social-and-human-behavior|social-impact|sports-recreation-and-tourism|sustainability)$
Filter: Previous Page Path -> Exactly matching -> /academics

Note: this GA report uses sampling, but the sample size is high enough that I don’t expect it to have an appreciable impact on the data.

Here are the category tiles again, with click data included:

Title Position Row Clicks
Accelerated Master’s Programs 1 1 3,186
Arts and Creative Study 2 1 2,274
Business and Economics 3 2 3,626
Computer Science and Information Technology 4 2 3,643
Education 5 3 2,393
Engineering 6 3 3,479
Forensic Science and Criminology 7 3 1,934
Global 8 3 912
Government and Policy 9 4 1,427
Health and Well-Being 10 4 4,064
Languages and Culture 11 4 1,028
Law 12 4 979
Liberal Arts 13 5 1,133
Science and Biomedicine 14 5 2,381
Security 15 5 1,145
Social and Human Behavior 16 5 1,492
Social Impact 17 6 391
Sports, Recreation and Tourism 18 6 923
Sustainability 19 6 504

The Chart

Let’s plot the data:

  • The category tiles run in order along the X axis. The solid grey line represents the number of click-through for each category.
  • The dotted grey line represents the average trendline of category tile click-throughs.
  • The solid blue line represents the tile order on the page.

The Takeaways

  • There appears to be a strong correlation between click-through rate and position on the page.
  • There are some outliers:
    • “Health and Well Being” and “Science and Biomedicine” both perform significantly higher than the trendline would predict.
    • “Arts and Creative Study”, “Education”, “Global”, “Languages and Culture”, and “Law” all perform significantly lower than would be expected by the trendline.

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