What does the data mean?

Every time I open up Google Analytics, the glance over the home/overview page. A number of stats on this page are averages of user behavior. Wow! Look how busy my website is. However, what does all this mean?

Specifically, these two bug me: pages/visit & time-on-site. Are visitors so busy on our site because they are gobbling up the information … or are they just frantically clicking to find some nugget of info they want or need? In all likelihood, it is some mixture of both, but it makes these numbers pretty much useless for me.

But for those making decisions on data, assuming that they know why it is behaving that way could make some horrible mistakes. Thinking your site is ‘sticky’ when in fact it is horrible to navigate would be pretty bad.

So I direct you to this week’s episode of On The Media. Luckily, with only a glancing blow to Malcom Gladwell, the several stories in this show help remind us of the fagility of data-driven reporting and decision making.

Basically, it comes down to this: we don’t have data about the future.

The most fascinating story is the last, about the Decline Effect. This is from one of my favorite shows, Radio Lab. Radio Lab is great for bringing stories from the unknown, much about mind and nature behavior. In this case, the effect of test data declining for each iteration of a test. Really makes you wonder if being data-driven is smart at all!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tony-Labz/100000117330765 Tony Labz

    Ooohh, great information you write it very clean. I’m very lucky to get this details from you. ;-)

    Search the Internet we’re here

  • J-greg1

    Agreed! Visitors usually don’t know what they would find on the site, rush through the contents and leave without obtaining any thing. The fact is they don’t pay much attention to content and just rush to the next one. And mostly all the sites are pretty much the same. It is true we don’t have data for the future. 

  • http://elitemachinerysystems.com Injection Molding Machinery

    Aww was looking forward to the link at On The Media but it’s broken :(  

    Everyone wants a guarantee.  You’re right, we don’t have data about the future.