Google Analytics for Mobile: 7 Best Practices for Screen Names


July 2, 2015

If you are a digital analyst, digital marketer, or mobile developer using Google Analytics for mobile app tracking, at some point you may have wondered what to name your mobile screens. You’re right to wonder. Screens are one of the most important dimensions in mobile analytics. Unlike the page in web analytics, we can name an app screen whatever we want! However, this flexibility comes at a cost, because screens can be given names that confuse rather than enlighten.

Read on for seven best practices for screen naming that promote clarity, save time and resources, and keep your Google Analytics dashboard looking clean!

What is a “Screen” in Mobile-speak?

Screens are what the user sees when they look at their mobile app. Google Analytics records screens as App Views/Screen Views. The App View/Screen View is used to populate Google Analytics information such as:

  • Screen Name: What the screen is called
  • Screen Views: How many times the screen has been seen
  • Unique Screen Views: How many sessions the screen has loaded
  • Average Time on Screen: Amount of time a user is spending on a screen
  • Exit Percent: How often users exit from a screen
  • Landing Screen: The screen the user saw first
  • Exit Screen: The screen the user exited the app from
  • Screen Depth: The number of screens viewed in a session
  • Goals: Screen can be used to track user flow

Screens can provide a vast amount of information about the user’s experience with a mobile app. When we think through and organize data, we do this in the form of nomenclature. A confusing name will lead to less organized thoughts. Therefore, it is vital to ensure that we are intentional when we name screens.

Screen Name Best Practices for Analytics

When it comes to screen names and Google Analytics, it’s important to think from an analyst’s perspective. Think about what would be helpful for the analyst to see in an analytics report.  A good test is to consider the following: Could a newly onboarded analyst figure out what screen this is?

Imagine you are an analyst who just started working on an account. You have an understanding of the KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and have run through the whole app a couple times. Is it obvious to you what screen name is linked to which screen in the app? If the answer isn’t a clear “yes”, there is likely a better name for that screen. These guidelines will help generate an appropriate name:

1. Keep the name short and simple

The longer the name, the more likely it is that the name is overly complex. An analyst does not want to see iterations of ecommerce-product-detail-fruit-apple-screen where product-detail will suffice.

2. Don’t use URLs

In a situation where data parity between web and mobile is the goal, using a URL as a screen name may seem like a good solution, but isn’t. While mobile screens and web pages may seem similar, they are treated differently by Google Analytics. URLs are native to pages, but not screens. The degree of difficulty in mapping a web URL to a corresponding screen is immense – especially if the URL has a dynamically populated component to it.

3. Don’t use numeric codes

Using numeric codes in screen names is undesirable. Examples of using numeric codes could be as unhelpful as Page 141 or as descriptive as Ecommerce Screen 2. While these type of names may hold meaning to the developer or the company, they mean little to a new analyst. What does 141 or 2 mean in that context? The use of codes is generally a bad practice because the meaning is not obvious.

4. Don’t use “camelCase” for screen names if using more than 2 words

Imagine seeing myUserSettingsScreen right next to myCameraSettingsScreen. The use of camelCase gets messy quickly and starts to clog the dashboard if used too freely. Use dashes or snakecase instead. It is much easier to read my-user-settings-screen or my_camera_settings_screen. Pick one convention and then be consistent with it.

5. Don’t use dynamic information to name a screen

Let’s examine an example of a social media app. Every user has a profile page. Should the screen name capture the username or not? A screen name like Profile might be used if the screen name does not capture dynamic information. If the screen name does use dynamic information, then the screen names might look like Profile: Trevor and Profile: Anna. Every single one of these screens will have its own row when screens are examined in Google Analytics. Typically this is undesirable. The use of custom dimensions to segment screen data should be considered instead.

6. iOS Only: Consider UIViewController Names

Most screens are managed by a viewController for iOS. ViewController names should be human readable and descriptive.  Therefore these could possibly be passed to Google Analytics as a screen name. Sorry Android, nobody wants to see com.project.ActivityName.

7. Use User Flows or KPIs as Inspiration

An analytics solution should always be designed with the KPIs in mind. This should be reflected in the screen names selected. If an app is designed to facilitate a specific user flow, a screen name such as Onboarding Complete or Onboarding Started could make sense.

Remember: Mobile Screen Naming is an Art, Not a Science

Naming screens is definitely not a science. There is room for variability and many answers that are correct – as well as some that are probably not so helpful. However, if you ask yourself, “Would a new analyst understand what screen I’m talking about?” and answer “yes”, then you are on the right track.

What are your best practices for mobile screen naming in Google Analytics? We want to hear from you! Make a comment below. 

Finding yourself stumped in the realm of mobile development? We can help. Contact us and let’s start a conversation.

 

1 Comment

  1. Oscar
    August 11, 2015 at 6:55 pm ·

    Nice article, thanks for sharing!.

    Can you elaborate bit more about the Android com.project.ActivityName page. We are also seeing the page com.companyname.companyname.ui.activities.StartActivity as our most viewed page after Home in our GA view for Android app (we don’t see the same page under iOS view).

    Thank you,
    -Oscar