Who Knows What Works on the Web?

Rishad Shaikh

Quick question: What do you think of this website?

Well, the Rock says, it doesn’t matter what you think!

If there’s one thing I want you to take from this blog post, it’s the Rock’s patent phrase above. I want you to throw that back at your web designer, your digital agency, your technology service provider or your board of directors the next time they try and give you their “opinions” on what your website should look like or what “digital strategy” you should pursue.

You really don’t need more opinions, you need ideas that really work!

Now the question is, who knows what works? Who is in the best position to give you practical advice on what you should be doing on the web?

Developers? Nope, developers just know what “functions” correctly and what doesn’t. Most web developers don’t even consider what the business impact of your website will be once they’re developed and done with it. Don’t get me wrong, developers are super cool people, its just not their job to look at all the other aspects that go into building a successful online empire.

Designers? Nope, they can surely make your brand look amazing but how many designers do you know that make use of eye tracking technology or have any idea about what elements of a website best helps to convert visitors into leads and customers? Even the position of the eyes of that smiling model on your home page makes an impact on how well your website can convert visitors into leads and customers. Is a good looking website all it takes to succeed on the web, because in most cases, that’s just about what your designer will be delivering.

The Board of Directors? Surely, they must know right? Let’s just say, your website does not really need those rainbows and unicorns.

So, who knows?

Here’s the thing: opinions, even those coming from experts, don’t really matter unless they are backed by scientific testing. The reason why your developers, designers and board of directors can’t give you solid direction on what really works is simply the fact that its not their job to do so!

You see, web analytics is the real paradigm shift of the web and deriving actionable insights by digging into the massive amounts of data is how you move beyond opinions and find out what really works on the web. The problem is, while access to data is easy and in many cases (like Google Analytics) free- deriving actionable insights is not.

More than Just Opinions

Everything from what content goes where, the information architecture of your website and the keywords that need to be associated with it- all of that needs to come from data and not mere opinions. But to get to that stage, to get to a stage where you are looking at more than just the default window in your Google Analytics dashboard and actually working with a solid web analytics strategy takes a considerable level of time and expertise.

Unfortunately, the web analytics band wagon hasn’t really gained the kind of popularity it should have by now. My take on this is that businesses are generally unaware of the true potential and importance of web analytics. Agencies on the other hand have brushed analytics under the rug because that would put them in a position where they’d have to audit the true business impact of the services they are providing to their clients.

Any agency or individual that dares to go into this direction can easily embarrass those that are still working on faith based initiatives. That, according to Google Analytics Expert, Avinash Kaushik, is the solution to this problem. I agree.

What do you do when you don’t have an audience? LOPA!