Make your Site”s Usage Data Visceral & Ambient

Make your Site”s Usage Data Visceral & Ambient

I love data. I love trying to compare it with more qualitative analyses of my product. I love finding trends in it. But I hate spreadsheets. I need to consume data viscerally.

Ambient Data-Porn @ Ignighter
Figure A: Ambient Data-Porn @ Ignighter

In traditional retail, visitors to a store are in the same physical space as the employees, allowing collection of more ambient data about store ”usage”, e.g. foot patterns, visitor reactions, etc. Not so on the web. For many web startups, I think there is a disconnect between what management thinks users are doing their site and what users are actually doing.

Years ago, when I ran a web hosting company, I remember I”d hooked up my home computer to chime with a ringing cash-register when the site made a sale, and to play a less pleasant buzzing sound when someone emailed a complaint.

Nowadays, I”m more serious about collecting and reporting data on my product. Figure A, above, is the trends viewer we use at Ignighter. It”s nothing more than a regular pc with a web browser displaying some charts on updates every few minutes with latest site usage data, that we put in a prominent location. Pie charts, line graphs, and segmented data, oh my!

It”s ambient, it”s visceral, and it”s useful because it allows impromptu team chats about trends in site usage during the day.

And I think that”s a big win.

Bottom line:
Data is only useful for driving decisions when it”s relevant, easy to understand, and all around you. Make it stupid easy to see trends in your product.

Note: Any information of proprietary value to my employer has been removed or approved, and this post has been approved by my employer.


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