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Understanding events in GA4

One of the biggest shifts from Universal Analytics to GA4 is the focus on events.

An “event” is a specific interaction with your website/page. This could be clicking a link, scrolling down the page, watching a video, downloading a document, etc.

Why track website events?

Events show how your users interact with your website. Understanding more about these "touchpoints" can help you measure how engaged your audience is with your website and which content they are most interested in.

Default events

In GA4, some events are tracked by default and don't require any additional configuration. These are also known as automatically collected events.

Event parameters

Each event has one or more parameter associated with it. Parameters provide additional information about the ways users interact with your website. For example, when someone clicks on a link, we can capture parameters about the text of the link, the specific URL of the link and any web classes used with that link.

A sample of some of the common default events and their parameters is listed below. Browse the full list of default GA4 events and parameters

Event name Event description Event parameters
click Clicks to links outside of Also known as: external or outbound links. link_url
file_download Clicks to files with specific extensions, including: pdf, docx, csv, ppt, mp4, mp3, etc. file_name
scroll Triggered the first time a user scrolls to 90% of a page's vertical depth. engagement_time_msec

Custom events

If we want to measure user behaviour outside the default events, we need to customize our analytics set-up to track and report on these events.

All websites have the following custom events in place to track these interactions:

Event name Event description Event parameters
uvic_link Tracks clicks to links with "" in the URL. Includes:,,, etc. link_url
ui_action A catch-all event for user interactions. Includes: opening/closing accordions, clicking navigation menu drop-downs, clicks to email and phone links, etc. ui_action_label

Site-specific custom events

You must first complete GA4 certification through Skillshop before getting access to create custom events in your analytics property.

Send a copy of your certificate to the Senior Web Officer once you've completed the training.

Sometimes you might only be interested in a subset of a specific event. For example, tracking clicks to a specific link URL, instead of all clicks.

Setting web goals

Before you can define custom events for your site, you will need to map out how specific events on your website correspond to your overall business goals.

For example:

Business goal Web event/interaction
Attend events hosted by our unit Clicks to event calendar links
Connect with our team for support Clicks to contact email or phone number links
Sign up for our faculty newsletter Clicks to the sign-up form link

We've created a downloadable template for you to start mapping out your unit's business/communication goals to actions on your website.


Need help?

Email the web team for advice on defining your web strategy and setting up custom events in GA4.