The Importance of Analytics in User Experience

Note: This post is over 4 years old. It was first published in June 2009

If you stop and think about it, web analytics is pretty damn amazing. Unlike any other time in the history of commerce, it’s possible for business owners to track and measure every tiny detail of thousands of customers’ behaviour without even breaking into a sweat. It takes about 10 seconds to install Google Analytics on your site, and it costs nothing.

So, you’d expect most successful web businesses to be totally on top of their analytics. You’d think that they’d all have their own special procedures and internal systems. You’d think they’d know everything about their users’ behaviour and the impact of every tiny design tweak they implement on their sites.

But the fact is, most businesses suck at analytics. Big time. They are staring at the default reports thinking “well, this is nice… but how does it help me make decisions?”

So how do they respond? They pay UX consultancies thousands of dollars a day to come in and run qualitative research, to give them insights about their customers’ behaviour by looking at tiny numbers of people carry out tasks in awkward, artificial lab settings. All the while they are sitting on a huge pile of solid quantitative data telling them exactly how their real customers are behaving, right now.

What a mess!

The next big innovation in analytics isn’t going to be about the technology. It’s going to be about the UI. Smart reporting tools that answer questions and directly aid decision making – that’s what the world needs. In the meantime, UX specialists have got to get a whole lot better at analytics. Why not get started by reading this presentation by Louis Rosenfeld?

Using a feed reader and can’t see the slides?

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