What Is Data-Informed Web Development & Why Should You Care?

Roy McClean
Jul 25, 2014
What Is Data-Informed Web Development & Why Should You Care?

Before Custom Fit Online started designing and developing websites, the company worked developing strategic plans and brand development packages. Back then we used to develop branding campaigns with logos and print ads… and with some success. But when we ran an ad campaigns it was challenging to really track results.

This was in the very early days of online. Back then our first website was built with Microsoft FrontPage. And most of the website was images. It loaded so slowly and I gotta admit that it was pretty ugly. But it came with this "stats" package called Webalizer. You could actually see the "hits" our website was getting, what pages were visited, keywords people used to find our website and more. Yowza!

Webalizer Analytics

Webalizer rockin' the hits

When developing strategic marketing plans for clients we almost always recommended measurement systems. And often it meant surveying clients. We conducted exit surveys at our client's retail stores, conducted field study research, conducted focus groups, and phone surveys. Getting at this information was very informative but also cumbersome and fairly expensive compared to what's available today.

Having data for our website readily available at the sound of our modem handshake was a bit of a revelation and I had a feeling that this Internet had something goin' on that a marketing person with an inclination for numbers kind of liked… a lot. Webalizer, as basic as it is compared to today's digital analytics tools, was awesome.

That's when I made a decision for Custom Fit Online to become an online data informed company. 

So What Does "Data-Informed" Mean?

Data is all about numbers right? Visits (or sessions as Google Analytics now called them), numbers of people from different geographical areas, page views, time on site, time on page, bounce rate? Yes, numbers are awesome. They tell us what goes on with a website. Numbers can tell a story. But do they tell the complete story? Not necessarily.

Clickstream digital analytics tools like Google Analytics, Webtrends, Adobe Analytics, etc. are the bomb when it comes to showing what happened on a website. But these numbers don't answer the why of numbers. These tools have tons of cool features including segmentation, measuring incoming marketing channels, and more.

Being data-informed is all about finding the "what happened" with great tools like Google Analytics, but also figuring out why those numbers are the way they are. So people aren't sticking around on your website's product pages? That could be a real problem. Maybe your product pages suck. But maybe your product pages are very good and people don't need to stick around very long. They're ready to leave to make a booking or pick up the phone to inquire about your products or -- even better -- buy them.

Yes, Data is More Than Numbers!

So data isn't just quantitative. Data is also qualitative: surveys, user testing, speaking with real website visitors. Combining this qualitative data too and being able to ascertain why people are clicking on your website, consuming, then engaging… ahhh… that's the sweet spot for optimizing your online presence. Tools like iPerceptions, Google Surveys, etc help with this.

Quantitative, Qualitative PLUS Testing!

Data Informed Web Development

And then by adding in the ability to test to you turn your website from an online presence to an online Petri dish, a lab, a focus group and a source for sales and true interactive strategic analysis…

  1. establish clickstream data via tools like Google Analytics
  2. connect this clickstream data with the "voice of the customer" via tools like iPerceptions
  3. optimize your website by testing with tools like Visual Website Optimizer
  4. establish this as a PROCESS and ... ta da.... you have SUCCESS!

That's data-informed Nirvana.

And That's Our Mission. How About You?

That's our mission -- to be data-informed. And if being online is important to you then you should strongly consider taking the steps to become data-informed too.

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