Saturday, March 15, 2008

Measuring Good Web Site Design

The technology of creating web sites has evolved dramatically over the past fifteen years since a small team of students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign created Mosaic, the first modern web browser. However, the art and science of understanding the performance of most sites is years behind this technology.

Surprisingly, almost weekly I hear from organizations both large and small that have no plan in place to measure changes to their web site. What is most disturbing is the large amount of money that is at stake. Many organizations that generate a significant percentage of their revenues from their web site do not have basic “e-commerce” measurements in place.

So how can an organization measure good web site design?

First, you do what every high school business class is teaches:

Create objectives for your __________. (you fill in the blank)

In this case, the blank is web site. Wow, earth shattering. These objectives (a.k.a. goals), should be straight forward and they do not have to be elaborate. So many times I have seen elaborate objectives that just confuse the topic. Do not get “wrapped around the axial” on the details of objectives. Think simple and high-level.

Some examples of site objectives:

  • Provide an easy way for site visitors to purchase my goods and services.
  • Provide customers with technical support.
  • Provide customers with an easy way to submit files for printing.

As you can see these are straight forward and you do not need the Rosetta stone to interpret them.

Second, create a methodology for measuring these objectives. This again, does not need to be ├╝ber elaborate. Here are a few rules to follow:
  • Be consistent. Create a method that can be replicated. Make sure the data is consistent.
  • Data driven. Tie the measurement to a source to data.
    • Number of sales
    • Number of users viewing support documents
    • Customer survey data
    • Usability study data
    • A/B testing data
    • Multivariable testing data
  • Trend the measurements. This will help you track you progress over time.

Finally, take a little time to track the changes to your web site. Link your site changes to these measurements, a.k.a. metrics. This will give you hard data to support a change to the site. More importantly, this will give you an indication when a changed to the site has a negative impact. Typically, managers and executives change web sites to benefit their business. Without the proper web site measurements, many changes intended to help the business does the exact opposite.

Ty Allen
VP Product Development

1 comment:

seoexpert said...

Nice post. I like the way you start and then conclude your thoughts.An open source program used for web development will also ensure dynamism in your website
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