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Analyzing Behavioural Data to Increase User Engagement For Terra Foundation

What This Project is About

Terra Foundation is working with Pratt Institute to solve UX issues, focusing on minor redesigns to improve and optimize their site. Our primary goal is to improve the discoverability and user experience of the grant application process on the website by making content organization and information architecture on their site more linear. We used Google Analytics to analyze the website's performance and users' behaviors and Hot-jar to analyze how far users scroll down on the page and where they commonly click. We have identified room for improvement in the navigation and content hierarchy. We also provided recommendations related to reducing cognitive load and optimizing conversion rates.

My Team 

Daniel Meagher

Akshata Karekar

Katherin Aristizabal


Sep 07 - Oct 12


UX Researcher


My role during this project was UX Researcher. In order to have a good understanding of the website, we designed four research questions that focused on different dimensions of the site. I tackled one of the research questions that focused on the new user's behaviors which led to recommendations on optimizing for conversion.

What is Terra Foundation?

The Terra Foundation for American Art has been one of the leading foundations focused on supporting the art of the United States. They support and expand narratives of American art and encourage collaborative practices through grant programs, collections, and initiatives. The foundation has recently revamped its mission and vision to be more inclusive and diverse in its methodology. They’re primarily focused on increasing their applicants for their various programs.

The problem with the current website is that information is not discoverable, which might lead to users not engaging with the site. Currently, they’re redesigning the website through iterative modifications. During this project, we helped them to discover new areas of improvement.

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The Goals 

Improve Terra’s Information Architecture

Making sure that any user can find what they are looking for or complete a task without having to put in too much effort


Find out whether navigation fits users' mental model


Study the arrangement of the content


Understand new users behaviors toward grants pages


Study the discoverability of grant specific pages

The Process 


Clients kickoff meeting


Brainstorming Research plan


Collect and analyze data


Develop recommendations


Present finding to client 

Meeting with Terra Foundation

To learn more about Terra foundation, we had an initial meeting asking questions about the foundation's goals, users, and the critical tasks they wanted to focus on. This helped me understand terra's objectives for our project with them.

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Questions We Asked!

  • How are users navigating through the site?

  • Are users using the search icon to find information?

  • What actions are new users taking when considering applying for a grant?

  • How effectively does the homepage communicate and guide new users to

    the website’s most important content and pages?

The research question I focused on to collect my data:

"What actions are new users taking when considering applying for a grant?"

We used these Research Questions to direct our Google Analytics and Hot-jar analysis. During the process, we often found ourselves deviating from our designed research questions, especially after facing many data in google analytics. However, we learned to use these questions as a guiding point to keep our focus within the parameters.


Overall, Terra foundation has many visitors interacting with the site, primarily new users. This is excellent news! We further understood that the homepage and the Grant and Fellowship pages get the most views. However, as we can see in figure 1, the overall avg. Session duration is very low, and there's a high bounce rate (single-page view). So since this is the case, extra attention must be paid to pages with the highest views. Navigation must be easy to use and line up with the user's mental models.

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 Overview of Google Analytics results from Aug01- Oct07.

🗺️   1. Navigation

The top navigation does not match our user's mental model

Users are clicking back and forth between “Who We Are” and “What We Offer” before landing on the desired page.

Users are only minimally clicking on “Where to Find Us”

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 Less than 1% of all users are using the search tool.

There aren't any clicks on the search bar on Terra's website. This could indicate that users are not aware of the search tool on the website.

Users navigate back and forth between multiple pages on the website. 

This indicates that users are unclear about what information resides on which page on the website.

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We Recommend


Add Linked Breadcrumbs to all pages on the website

A breadcrumb is a secondary navigation aid that allows users to keep track and maintain awareness of their locations within the website. 


Bold Menu Items with Drop-Down Icon
to indicate hierarchy with the submenu items below.


Adding Grants to the Navigation Bar

Instead of “Where to Find Us.”  Since Grants are the most visited page, including easy access for users to that page through navigation will help optimize users' time on the website and the discoverability of grants.


Redesign the search icon into a search bar

for increased visibility and discoverability

**We further recommended following up with an Open Card Sort. To validate our hypothesis and find the best way to organize the menu items.

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📈   2. Optimizing for Conversion 

There is lack of visible call to action on the website

The grants pages have a bounce rate, and the apply link has low discoverability. The apply button currently resides inside a dropdown menu for each grants page. The section falls in the bottom third of the page, making it difficult for users to reach.

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On grant-specific pages, Deadlines are the most clicked information by new users, and not many are clicking on How to apply

The majority of the new users view and engage with the information that is presented above the fold. And will not reach to deadlines. 

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We Recommend

Place important information and a CTA above the fold
to improve user engagement as soon as landing on the page.

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💆🏻   3. Reducing Cognitive Load 

Some pages have low traffic and engagement

Some Grant pages, like Convening Grant, have higher traffic and engagement rates than Chicago Art Convening despite sharing similar opportunities, goals, and application windows. This discrepancy could be due to some key pages' lack of pathways and discoverability.

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We Recommend

Add more pathways to other pages on the website

Optimize high-traffic/high-engagement pages, Such as the homepage, to add additional pathways to key pages. As well as adding pathways on relevant pages

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Most visited information on the website requires a lot of scrolling

Grants Program Guidelines have the highest clicks on the Grants page. However, 25% of the users don’t reach that section and head back to the homepage for information about Grants.

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🎢 4. Information Hierarchy

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Out of the users who landed on the Grants page, approximately 40% of them navigated back to the Homepage.

In the same way, 50% of the total users reach the resources section on the Grants page. The other half navigates back to the homepage or heads to the grants database and Grants FAQ page through the navigation.

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We Recommend


Bringing the grant program guidelines and the resources section higher up on the page to

So that it falls within the average fold, which is viewed by 100% of users.


Grant FAQ higher up on the page as quick links

96% of users will reach the resources section giving them access to the information they want in the minimum amount of time.

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Want to See More?

You can view our entire project (Slides, Infographic, A/B Test plan) here! 

What’s Next? Running an A/B Test for our Hypothesis

Our next step for the project is to run an A/B test using Google Optimize. Here we hypothesized that:

Having an “Apply” button CTA on grant pages will increase applicants.


We Presented Our Findings and Recommendations

After gathering our data and establishing our recommendations, we shared our findings with the client with a presentation. Overall- everything was a success. They especially appreciated our recommendations on navigation and adding additional pathways to grant pages.

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  1. Using google analytics and hot-jar together was complementary and essential to paint a picture of the problems. For example, if we only relied on google analytics, our understanding of the problems would've been very surface-level. 

  2. Quantitative Data can be limiting. Many times during the process, we questioned the user's motivations. For example, Hot-jar recordings help observe user behaviors, but you can't understand their intention. 

  3. Writing research questions are not easy! During this study, I learned the importance of research questions to guide the study. Questions shouldn't be too specific or too vague.

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