I’ve been learning how to get data on our website usage from Google Analytics.
It’s very hard, both cos Google Analytics front end is so badly designed and cos you need to learn how websites work. There’s lots of different things you can measure, do you want:
- unique pageviews
- bounce rate
- session duration
- and so on and so on and so on
There’s so many, so how do you choose? What webstats are important and should be collected and analysed, and what are not? Which staff should receive which webstats?
Then it hit me…
There’s no such thing as webstats!
They don’t exist.
Thinking of a website and THEN starting to think what you can measure is the wrong place to start.
If you start at the website and think “what can I measure?” or even “what should I measure?” then you will end up measuring activity and what people (i.e managers) think is important.
The typical webstats collected will be…
- number of hits
- number of page views
- number of unique visitors
- number of followers/friends
- number of email sign ups
- time on site
These have a name, they are…
Vanity metrics make you feel good.
The higher they are, the better. That is there only benefit, the ability to make you feel good.
“Ten thousand views! Better than 5,000! In fact TWICE as good!”
Vanity metrics cannot be USED. They don’t tell you the “now what?” answer. They just make you feel popular.
This is like call-centre stats. If you start off measuring the call-centre you get rubbish like the % calls answered in 20 seconds or the average handling time. These are measuring the call-centre but they AREN’T measuring anything the customer cares about or tells you how well they are being helped. In fact they can drive bad performance and create failure demand if they are targetted (as they are).
Webstats and call-centre stats do not exist. They are not things.
Just like any old measure in fact. There’s no such thing as housing measures, there’s no such thing as social care measures. There’s no such thing as planning measures, there’s no such thing as Housing Benefit measures. These all do not exist. They are not things.
What are things are your customers, their problems, and your organisation’s attempts at helping solve them. Measure these instead. Start there.
Start with a customer, find out their problem and what matters, then measure how well your system helps them with this. If this cuts across a website, then find out what you need to measure from that website in order to see how well you are helping your customer. This is totally different from measuring the website as a starting point, because you now have a proper question to answer, how capable are we at helping our customers. Not how many people click through our website. They could be clicking around angrily not finding what they need.
This is like starting with a customer need in a callcentre, find out how well you help them, not if they were answered in less than 20s and the call ended within 6 minutes. These are not things.
Actionable metrics are things that connect customers and your organisation. They create learning by showing what happens when you make a change to your system and whether that is good or bad for the customer and therefore your organisation.
Ultimately feeling good cos of hits/likes/visits/mentions are not important. If it is, you should be in the cute cat gif business. A very unprofitable business.