Author Archive

Designing Support: Part 1- Understand, Define, Ideate

July 1st, 2015 by Chris

This is the first post in a series on how we used the design process to understand, define, ideate, and build a brand new support site.

My favorite part of being on the Chartcorps, our client support team, is that all of my teammates genuinely care about and empathize with our clients. We don’t just train editorial and advertising teams, debug code implementation, and provide general support — we’re always trying to build a better product experience for all Chartbeat users.

This starts with customer feedback. At Chartbeat, and especially in the Chartcorps, we’re all about using data to drive decisions. So, my Chartcorps teammate Sam and I decided to team up with our designers to critically approach the challenge of creating a unified support experience. In doing so, we learned why design collaboration and a comprehensive support system are integral components for any software product.

resource inventory
Beginnings of our brainstorming process

Phase 1: Understand

One of the fundamental problems we wanted to solve for was the lack of a centralized location for Chartbeat’s support resources. We noticed, as a team, that we frequently received similar questions from our users — often about where to find implementation instructions or how to learn more about our data science.

While of course we love talking to our clients, we came to realize that one-on-one client communication (for any and all issues) is not a scalable support model. We also took into account that many users were probably trying to find the answers to their questions without having to email the support line.

Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 1.11.22 PM
An example page from our old resource site

The content library we had at the time was difficult to navigate. The majority of implementation docs were static PDFs. Educational videos and case studies were scattered across different shortened links. Version control, maintenance, and innovating new support methods were confusing and cumbersome.

So we took a step back and re-evaluated. How could we make communicating and answering our clients’ needs a more efficient process across multiple channels?

Phase 2: Define

Before putting anything down on paper, we first needed to figure out exactly who we were designing for. Since our customers have extremely diverse sets of roles, workflows, and team sizes, the Design Team suggested we use Job Stories as a way to approach this problem. This meant ignoring user personas and instead defining what ‘jobs’ people were ‘hiring’ our support site to do.

job stories
A job story format (Source: Medium)

We talked through a lot of examples of why someone would come to a Chartbeat support center and what outcomes they would be expecting. For example:

  • When looking to implement the Chartbeat code, I want to find full technical documentation, so I can get my site up and running.
  • When using Chartbeat for the first time, I want to know what specific metrics mean, so I can put them in practice and incorporate the tool into my daily workflow.
  • When I have a specific question already formed in my mind, I want to quickly and easily find the answer, so I can go back to using the tool.
  • We weren’t trying to design just for “developers”, “homepage editors”, or “account admins”. Instead we wanted to design a single support experience that offered everyone an intuitive path to their expected outcome, whatever that may be.

    Phase 3: Ideate

    Then came our first big challenge: to step out of the comfortable realm of client experience and feedback, and into the creative and practical world of UX design. Enter, the whiteboard.


    Luckily we had a few main points to help get us started; the three general support journeys we imagined users taking, and a need for a singular site architecture that began at a master landing page. Eventually we aligned the resources and content that already existed in our internal library with our three main journeys, which became ‘Documentation’, ‘Education’, and ‘FAQ’.

    New Chartbeat Support Site

    Now that we outlined the basic structure, we turned our attention to the smaller details:

  • How do we visually represent product hierarchy?
  • How can we encourage exploration between products and categories?
  • And how many clicks should someone have to make to arrive at their expected outcome?

  • Conclusion

    We started this project as an opportunity to solve a very real problem for our client base and brush up on our technical skills, but we knew that if we were going to take the time to build a whole support center, we had to do it right.

    This meant committing to the entire design process — something we didn’t know would be so challenging. Fortunately, we had the support and experience our Design Team to guide us and give us feedback along the way.

    Stay tuned for part two. Next week, Sam will get a little more technical and talk about how we prototyped, built, and tested our product.

    Follow Up: Mobile Research Data Science Webinar

    June 25th, 2015 by Chris

    ICYMI: Last week, our Chartcorps and Data Science teams hosted a Q&A webinar covering the latest mobile research from our spring Quarterly issue. You can check out a full recording of the webinar (or read the Cliff Notes version) here.

    You asked, we answered.

    Attendees asked lots of great questions during last week’s mobile research findings webinar—some of which we didn’t have a chance to answer during the live Q&A session:

    What are some strategies for increasing pageviews per user on mobile devices?

    Whether you’re promoting your site on social media or deciding which articles to put on a landing page, consider sending traffic to pages with high mobile recirculation, which tend to drive readers further into your site.

    Filter on the “mobile” platform in the Chartbeat Publishing Dashboard and sort your Top Pages section by Recirculation to quickly see which articles are doing the best at driving your audience deeper into your site.

    To increase mobile recirculation on a particular page, take a look at where mobile visitors scroll to before leaving, either in real-time with the Heads Up Display or historically with Report Builder.

    How can digital publishers tailor content better for mobile platforms?

    With mobile platforms, the best way to optimize for your audience is to make sure that the most viewable part of the page—just below the digital fold—is set up for success. Are you giving your audience a chance to move on to additional content before that first big drop off? And if they do drop off after that point, are they at least leaving with a strong takeaway from the article?

    If you’re constantly tracking your mobile audience, you’ve probably also noticed trends in terms of which referrers typically send traffic via mobile devices, and even what time of day you usually see the highest amount of mobile traffic. These insights can all inform you on when and where to promote your mobile stories.

    Track the second-by-second, pixel-by-pixel attention of your audience with our Editorial Dashboard.

    Have you noticed a difference in mobile consumption with the increased popularity of “phablets” — larger screen phones like the iPhone 6 plus or the Galaxy Note 4?

    Right now we break down devices into three categories—desktop, mobile, and tablet—so we haven’t looked at any trends yet in the various kinds of mobile devices, but we’ll keep it in mind.

    How do you measure scroll depth in the case of these studies?

    To measure maximum scroll depth, we look at the the furthest point a user scrolled on the page, as tracked by our pinger, a piece of Chartbeat javascript that runs in your browser. Note that maximum scroll depth isn’t necessarily the point at which you left the page, although the two are often the same number.

    To get the maximum scroll depth data for the Data Science Quarterly, we used the same data store that feeds our Report Builder.

    What kind of correlation have you seen between scroll depth on landing pages and pageviews per visit?

    We haven’t done a study on this correlation yet, but if you’re using the Report Builder tool you can build recurring reports tracking pageviews and unique visitors for a specific page.

    Set metrics to “pageviews” and “unique cookies” and set a page path filter equal to “/” — the path of your homepage — and filter on device type equals mobile. That way you can keep track of the numbers for your own homepage day in and day out and discover any trends that might be unique to your own audience. (For more tips and tricks check out Report Builder 101).

    Learn more about our suite of editorial tools here. Questions? Shoot us a note or check out our Chartcorps Support Site.

    Headline Testing 101

    June 24th, 2015 by Chris

    Already familiar with Chartbeat Engaged Headline Testing?
    Hop down to our 101 section for tips on how to get the most out of your headline tests.


    Engaged Headline Testing is like a laboratory. In this lab, you run the experiments. You determine the variables. But we provide the measurements. Our algorithm handles the heavy lifting. Engaged Headline Testing maximizes the effectiveness of your content by combining your own editorial expertise with real-time performance metrics.

    04. Pin open - headline test - form 2@1x
    You’ve got the great content—but are people seeing it? Are you driving readers to your most engaging content—the content that will keep them coming back again and again? Engaged Headline Testing helps you get to know your audience on a deeper level and promote your content with headlines that you know are more likely to grab—and keep—readers’ attention.

    You’ll know which headlines resonate best with readers so you can increase engagement—and improve headline writing in the process.


    We understand that audience attention is an important measure of success. Chartbeat Engaged Headline Testing identifies not only the headlines that are being clicked on, but also the ones that lead to engagement with your content. Using our Quality Clicks metric, the testing tool tallies the clicks that correspond to a user actively engaging with your content for at least 15 seconds after clicking the headline.

    Clicks are not enough; your most successful headlines are those that grab users’ attention and position engaging content. Engaged Headline Testing ensures your headlines do both.


    The setup is simple: pick a story that you want to test headlines for, enter a series of different headlines, and launch the experiment. Chartbeat then serves those different headlines to your audience and measures how many clicks each version receives—and more importantly how much Engaged Time those visitors spend consuming the content. Tests run in real-time, weighting the winning headlines based on what’s driving the most post-click engagement with each audience.

    Ready to upgrade to the Engaged Headline Testing tool? Let your account manager know—or shoot us a note to learn more.

    Headline Testing 101


    Since a headline test is an experiment, you should structure it that way — hypothesis, variables, results, and conclusions.

    1. Leverage your own experience and insight. When deciding on headline variants, consider what kinds of headlines have been successful in the past. Maybe one that’s interrogative, one with numbers, and another written in the second person.

    2. It’s multivariate headline testing after all, you’re not limited to two choices. Pick a series of different kinds of headlines, at least 4 or 5. And make sure they’re different.

    3. Make sure your headlines are different. You’re testing to see how your audience reacts to different styles and tones, not slight changes in word order or punctuation.

    4. Analyze your results. Look back at those headline writing strategies you started with. Were your hypotheses correct? Every time an experiment completes, you have a chance to learn a little bit more about your audience’s preferences and how they respond to different styles of headlines. Which approaches were more successful? Under what conditions? Do certain approaches work better against certain content topics (e.g. sports or tech or entertainment)?

    Chartcorps Insight: High clicks with low engagement might mean that the headline didn’t communicate the message of the article. Is your headline too sensational, too much of a stretch? Low clicks with high engagement can tell you that the article could use more exposure. Have you shared it on social media, are you linking to it from your home page or other article pages?

    5. Apply your findings time and time again. Some of the best headline testers write wrap reports and have daily meetings to go over results. Creating and sharing a summary of the insights you gained from previous experiments helps all editors and content producers benefit and learn.

    6. Test again.
    And again. Test deliberately and in ways that confirm or deny a single hypotheses.


  • Always be testing — since there’s no limit on how many experiments you can run at the same time, you always have the opportunity to learn from your audience’s behavior.
  • Know which audience you’re testing — homepage audiences are usually loyal and visitors from social tend to be new, so it’s likely they’ll prefer different headlines.
  • Don’t stop tests prematurely — it might be tempting to stop a test when one headline quickly takes the lead, but you’re likely to see cases where the tides shift halfway through the experiment and the initial success trails off.
  • Don’t get discouraged by a tie — it’s possible that two great headlines are attracting similar levels of engagement. If you’re frequently seeing similar results, it might be that the headlines you’re testing are too similar.
  • Higher traffic pages will turn results faster — since experiments are based on how many clicks your articles are getting, a bigger audience means more clicks.
  • Ready to get started with Chartbeat Engaged Headline Testing? Want to learn more? Get in touch.

    Report Builder 101: Historical Reporting Made Easy

    June 17th, 2015 by Chris

    But, what is Report Builder?

    One of Chartbeat’s core beliefs is that your data should work for you; real-time updates to drive decisions and historical trends to better inform strategies. Report Builder is our latest push to help you understand how the actions you apply in the moment pay off over time.

    In addition to our pre-built daily and weekly reports (Perspectives), Report Builder now gives you complete freedom to create custom reports with the metrics and filters you need to evaluate and measure the success of your unique goals.

    So, how do I use it?

    Each report is generated by inputting a combination of:

  • Metrics: the actual data point that you’re interested in seeing (e.g. Average Engaged Time, unique impressions, or scroll starts)
  • Filters: a certain breakdown that you want to focus on in your reports (e.g. you want to see the data for just a particular section, referrer type, or page path)
  • Group by: how you want to organize the data that’s returned to you (e.g. you want to group your data results by city, loyalty types, or a series of hours throughout the day)

  • Report Builder’s functionality is as limitless as your imagination—you can create any number of reports to help you better evaluate your content’s performance.

    To get you started, let’s take the following question that editors commonly ask:

    Over the past week, which articles have had the highest average engagement, and how does that compare to the amount of traffic they received?

    With Report Builder, we can set:
  • A one-time report over the last 7 days,
  • metrics as Average Engaged Time and unique cookies—because we want to compare quality time to simple unique visitors,
  • and group by page path—so that we get the engaged time and unique cookie metrics sorted by a given page path (the reported URL that comes after the .com)
  • Image 1

    And now we can see the most popular pages from the last week showing exactly how much traffic and Average Engaged Time each received.

    But why stop there? Add another group parameter like section or author, and you’ll be able to see which sections or authors those popular pages belong to.

    Image 2

    Or, if you see a high performing article that catches your eye, try filtering on that page path, and you can start building reports for that specific article.

  • You can group by referrer type to see which traffic source drove the most attention to that article,
  • or by hour to see how attention changed throughout the day.
  • Image 3

    What other reports can I make?

    The sky’s the limit. It all depends on what you want to know.

    Want to track your audience’s internal navigation from the home page? Plug in the specific metrics you want to evaluate (e.g. Average Engaged Time, unique cookies) and group by internal navigation path and page path.

    You’ll get a historical look at how people were navigating from page to page on your site—and see how much time they spent there.

    Image 4

    Notice any trends or connections between the content? Use this data to adjust your link strategy: change the way you link your content together to optimize recirculation and keep your audience engaged—and likely to come back.

    What else can I do with this tool?

    Do you build a report that you want to download into a spreadsheet every week? Go further with the API endpoints and program a spreadsheet to automatically call and receive the same report over and over again for your team to use.

    And, in case you missed the Report Builder launch webinar and are looking to get inspired, you can check it out here on the Chartcorps Support Site.

    Stay tuned for more tips, best practices, and advanced report ideas.

    Don’t have Report Builder yet? Contact your account manager or shoot us an email to get set up today!

    Chartcorps Challenge: Getting Your High-Converting Referrers to Work Harder

    April 16th, 2014 by Chris


    Day in and day out, you’re working hard to build your returning and loyal audience. You’re publishing tons of high-quality content. You know it’s great content because your visitors are spending lots of time engaging with it, and they’re coming back for more of it. The question I have for you is this: Are you making your best referrers work hard for you? Are you leveraging the best social channels to get your best content in front of the best audience?

    To answer that question, let’s talk about your traffic sources, sorted by conversion quality.


    If you’re a Chartbeat Publishing user, you probably already know that the right-hand side of the dashboard gives you the real-time low-down on how many concurrent visitors are coming to your website, and also which traffic sources are responsible for driving that traffic. What you might not know is that you can go even one step further: When you use that little drop-down menu in the top-right corner and filter by “conversion quality”—boom! Game changer.

    Now all your referrers are instantly sorted not by the number of concurrent visitors they’re delivering to your site, but by the percentage of visitors who have returned to your site after being referred a first time.

    Now let’s talk specifics: Facebook and Twitter. See how Facebook is driving almost 4x the number of concurrents, but Twitter’s conversion rate is 14% higher? This should get you thinking about which channels matter more to building audience loyalty.


    It stands to reason that because people who come from Twitter are more likely to return, if you can get a lot more traffic from that referrer, you’re going to be more effective in expanding your segment of returning visitors.

    So how do we make that happen? Now that you know visitors from Twitter are more likely to return, you can focus more of your time and attention on that social network, and you can get more of your most engaging content in front of that audience. Sort your Top Pages by Engaged Time, and look out for articles with retaining badges—these are the highly engaging stories that are ripe for the tweeting.


    How about for ol’ Facebook? It’s still doing a great job at getting people in the door, so let’s make sure they stick around. Pivot on Facebook, see where those big numbers of people are spending time engaging, and make sure those pages have great links for recirculating. Bonus tip: Since you know what kind of content brought them to your website, you can hold their attention by connecting them to similar articles. Clever, huh?

    There you have it—quantity meets quality. Building that loyal audience one real-time decision after another.