It is an unfortunate reality that Web Analytics is a dreadfully low priority when designing or redesigning a site. This is especially true for small and medium businesses. All too often, a site is designed without much prior knowledge about visitor behavior. Instead, the site is designed based on subjective user experience and gut feelings. Involving web analytics into the design process has many advantages but first let’s take a look at why so few companies today don’t make use of this.
“Web Analytics is just a web controlling mechanism.”
Too often, the mindset is, we need a tracking tool just in case management asks us about the performance of the website. Web controlling, however, is just a small part of a complete web analytics strategy. The real added value of web analysis is when it is used for website optimization. This is the exciting area that generates value and Return on Investment!
“Web Analytics has nothing to do with design.”
Historically, sites were designed first and then, when traffic reached a certain size or competition made worrying inroads, the need to track visitors was identified. This process is now ingrained in the minds of many marketers.
“Web Analytics interrupts the creative design process.”
If web analytics is viewed as a web controlling mechanism, then I tend to agree. However, the beauty of web analytics is that it is a very creative process. You have an idea, then set up an AB test and examine the results. Then test some more. Test some crazy ideas as well. You might be surprised! This is the time to be creative!
The heart of the matter is that web analytics is simply not viewed as a strategic tool that can support the creative process and drive value. From the beginning, it makes strategic sense to make web analytics a cornerstone of the site design process.
1. Web Analytics can support the creative design process. Web analysts are creative types. They are open to experimentation and love to check the numbers for improvements. Got competing design suggestions? Using AB Tests, create a friendly competition to see which design resonates most with your visitors. It is amazing how a small competition can stimulate creativity.
2. Web Analytics is hard. But by involving a web analyst in the design process makes it far easier to secure a clean implementation. This is because tracking difficulties can be identified early on. Sometimes, it might even make sense to design an element of the website to fit the needs of the tracking tool! This of course only makes sense if tracking the element makes strategic sense.
3. Good web analysts combine gut feelings with supporting data. Having a web analyst on board from the beginning lets you profit from the site optimization experience a web analyst has. Not sure how the order process should look on the site? A good web analyst will have analyzed countless order processes in detail and will be able to tell you exactly what works and what doesn’t.
4. At some point in time, every company inevitably realizes that web analysis is an essential component of a successful website. The hardest part of web analytics is getting organizational buy-in and acceptance for the tracking tool. Starting a web analytics project after the site is up and running makes it even harder.
So, Web Analytics is hard but it is also creative and fun. With that in mind, there is no better time to implement web analytics than as early as possible in the creative design process!