Fun with Web Metrics

What's going on?

Revelation #1

If there were ONE “magic metrics analyst superpower” I’d like to possess, it’d be to be able to look through the net and watch visitors to my sites.   No – there’s no nefarious purpose in that ☺ but it would provide me with the most up-to-the-moment honest “ground truth” assessment I could ever want.    Is the visitor interested (“Yay – this is what I was looking for!”)?  Confused (“This site MIGHT have what I’m looking for, if I could only FIND IT!”)?  Upset (“Why is this taking so long to load?  I don’t WANT to look at a 60-second Flash animation!”)?   Overloaded (“There WAY too much here all at once!”)?   Relieved (“This is the 34th site I’ve gone to – and I FINALLY found the right place!”)?

If we COULD read the thought balloons of visitors to our sites, we’d know:

  • whether the visit is a “success” and to what degree;
  • how easy it REALLY is to find things on the site;
  • how well the navigation and user interface works;
  • an opinion of our site design and “look”.

In short – we’d have great assessment information.

Sure, you can get some of this information in other ways:

  • surveys
  • focus groups
  • reviews

and so on, but as we’re all aware, those come from only a very small sample of the user base (generally the people who like to fill our surveys and do focus groups), and most of the “quicky” ways to solicit feedback (e.g., “star” ratings, etc.) don’t give much detail as much as a very shallow reaction.

So lately, when I surf the Web for my own purposes, I find myself monitoring my own thought balloons (and sometimes muttering their contents)…   (Even when writing this post, I had to exclaim “OK where is the ‘Preview’ button?” – a genuine review of WordPress’s UI…).

This led me to an experiment where I went back to sites I’ve worked on – especially those that launched some time ago – to discover what “thought balloons” came up as I revisited them.   (“Why is the search box there?”   “When did all that stuff end up below the fold?”) — hmmm.   I wonder what a completely new visitor is thinking when they look at my sites, though I fear that most of their thought balloons would be frighteningly candid about the site’s shortcomings!

If you re-visit your own sites what are your thought balloons? What do you think that a first-time visitor is thinking?

Try it!


September 3, 2010 - Posted by | philosophy |

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