Reading Atlanta Analytics

All of this business about paid tools vs free tools, and dare I say the whole concept of #measure, all boils down to the fact that today, we are a tool-centric industry, often to the detriment of being an expert-centric industry. — Stop giving web analytics tools the credit YOU deserve

Atlanta Analytics is a quite interesting blog – however, there aren’t so many posts. The author, Evan LaPointe, does have some nice visions and an interesting perspective, because he comes from a finance background.
I think he makes some important points, these are:

  • It isn’t about page views or uniques – it’s about money
  • Drive actions not data
  • Be a business person not a technologist
  • Demand your share – if you increase your company’s profit by $500,000 per year, you should demand a share of it

What is web analytics?

  • Quantify today’s success and uncover usability, design, architecture, copy, product, advertising, pricing and marketing optimization that will breed even more success tomorrow
  • Web analytics isn’t:
    • WA is not the measurement of something
    • WA is not defining success but translating it
    • WA is not Omniture, Google Analytics or Clicktracks
  • Web analytics answers the following questions:
    1. Who is coming to my web site?
    2. What are they trying to do?
    3. What is the gap between what they are doing and the ideal?
    4. What are some concrete ways we can close the gaps?
    5. How can we get more of these people?
  • These answers should be answered in context of growth and profitability
  • Analyst shouldn’t become married to one discipline otherwise they are losing the big picture
  • They are central and recommendations are driven by company impact and not by personal impact
  • Even if you cannot solve a problem by yourself, you have uncovered an important problem

Three enormous wastes of your web analytics time

  1. Analytics isn’t implemented in the dev process but afterwards
  2. You care about the correct unique visitors count
  3. You are trying to match two numbers from different tools: Trends not accounting

3.5 things that keep you from finding good web analytics people

  • 1: Good WA can be in your company
  • 2: A lot of experienced WAs are actually reporting writers
  • 3: Your interview process prevents you from hiring good people: if you fear change / that your flaws will be revealed and the application is able, then you probably won’t hire them
  • 3.5: Your salary is too low: increasing your conversion rate by 0.3% can mean hundreds of thousand of dollars additional revenue per month

Web analytics sucks, and it’s nobody’s fault

This is a handmade description for yet another propellerhead analyst who will sit around and run reports for people, get in arguments with other people (or those same people), “agree to disagree” with other departments, and will eventually call everyone else an idiot and will recede into their cave before ultimately quitting for a director-level position at a different, big, resume-enhancing company where the process will repeat itself.

It’s not their fault because a good position for a web analytics person does not exist in the companies that can use these people most. The bigger the company, the more important a small difference becomes. For a site with 10,000 visits a month, an analytics person would have to improve conversion by double-digit percentages to scarcely pay for themselves. For Wal Mart, moving the conversion needle a tenth of a percent probably pays their lifetime salary in a week

The effective web analytics person knows usability, they know some design, they know information architecture, they know HTML, they are good communicators and can thusly write good web copy, and ultimately they are businesspeople who realize the purpose behind all of these crafts is cash flow […] Rather than being careful, politically aware employees, effective analytics people are data-driven, quickdraw decision makers because they have two key assets:

1. Cold, hard facts in the form of data (and I don’t mean just Omniture data)
2. The ability to not have to decide: they can TEST

Big companies are ruled by coalitions of opinions, meetings, conference calls, and semi-educated executives. Data is actually a threat. Data is what gets people fired in big companies, not what gets them bonuses. Data is scary.

What are the REAL web analytics tools?

  • Question: How can you improve the long-term cash flow?
  • Where you need a decent degree of competency:
    • Usability
    • Information Architecture
    • SEO
    • Web marketing (PPC, display, email)
    • Social Media
    • Design
    • Copywriting
    • Website technology (HTML, CSS, SQL, JS, PHP/Ruby/Python/whatever)
    • Communication skills
  • Learn business goals -> department goals -> campaign goals -> personal goals

Have you lost faith in web analytics?

  • Make decisions as often as possible – aka fail faster
  • It isn’t about the newest technology – it’s about money
  • Don’t live in a vacuum – interact with different people and viewpoints

The purpose of web (or any) analytics

  • “We talk about being data-driven businesses. But these aren’t businesses built around a culture of measurement. They’re built around a culture of accountability.”
  • “The purpose of web analytics, or any analytics, is to give your organization the confidence needed to accelerate the pace of decisions.”
  • “We’re talking about being accountable to outcomes, not to some Tyrannosaurus on a power trip. That’s a big deal.”
  • “It’s about making big decisions often.” – Iterate, iterate, iterate

#68/111: Universal Principles of Design

What is it about?

If you want to immerse yourself in design, this is the ideal starting point. William Lidwell, Kritina Holden and Jill Butler show you over 100 different principles of design, including the Golden Ratio, prototyping, the mental model and framing.

What can I learn?

Gestalt theory of perception: The theory includes some interesting observations. One is the ground-object-relationship. You probably know the vase which also looks like two faces. This is an application of this principle. Would you make the vase look more like a actual object, e.g. coloring it, it would become the object and the white space the ground. It is a pretty big topic, so if you want to learn more about the theory there is nice short website about it.

Fitts’ Law: This law applies is peculiar important in usability. It states that the time which takes to reach a element (e.g. a button) depends on the distance and size of it. That is, if you want to minimize the time for your user, you could make your site narrower or just increase the size of the buttons.

Face-Ism Ratio: The ratio is pretty exciting. Researchers found that the ratio of the height of all visible body parts to the height of the head determines how the person looks. If the ratio is high, you look more intelligent, dominant and competent. If you start to decrease the ratio you will look more sensual and attractive.


Universal Principles of Design is a pretty nice book. The layout is great. There is explanatory text on the left and examples and illustrations on the right. That is, each principle is explained on one page. And there are lots of it of various topics. If you are interested in design, you should consider reading this book.

#67/111: Designing the Obvious

What is it about?

What makes a product more usable? Robert Hoekman, jr. shows you how to increase the usability of your web & mobile application and why hover divs aren’t better than pop ups.

What can I learn?

Less is more: I just want to show you this post of milof:

Be forgiving: You often got a pop up asking if you want really delete this message. However, a better way is to allow your user to redo this action. Implement a undo feature into your application. This will maintain the user’s work flow. If you can’t do this because there is a required steps, like entering a valid email address, help your user to do it properly, e.g. use inline validation and some nice Javascript.

Don’t be a jerk: This is probably the conclusion of this book. Your users shouldn’t have to learn how to use your product. The more things your user can do intuitively, the better it is. If they have to learn new things make it easier. Produce videos or screen casts or even some screen shots but don’t just give them 200 pages of plain text.


Designing the Obvious is like Don’t Make Me Think 2.0. Robert Hoekman, jr. also shows how real products could be improved and got a similar causal style. There are some great ideas for better usability. I especially liked the undo function for web applications. Great book, read it for yourself! Recommendation.