YOU MUST HAVE AN ANALYTIC TOOL
This article is assuming that you are already tracking your website statistics, because if you aren’t then you are dumb. A rude way to start, I know, but seriously if you aren’t using some form of analytics stop reading this right now and go set up a FREE Google Analytics account. What are you still reading for, GO, NOW.

So as we know, everyone has a good analytic tool to review and monitor their websites activity. The more you use the tool the more you’ll learn about what your sites visitors are doing. Why do they always leave from page X, or why doesn’t anyone ever click on the link Y? I have studied website statistics for 13 years for many different websites, I can really have fun. My question here is, what statistic do you use to determine success or failure? I understand that we should be looking at all the stats, but for the sake of argument, what is your companies’ most important stat?

Visits, Page Views, Pages/Visit, Time on Site, New Visits, Absolute Unique Visits, and on and on and on.

STATISTICS RANT AND A BAD EXAMPLE
As a young college student in an advance political science statistics class, a very smart professor led his lecture by asking, “What are statistics?” My answer, “Whatever you want them to be”. He did not appreciate the answer as much as I did. Instead of the smart alec answer, I should have explained that I believe that statistics can be twisted by many things. EXAMPLE: Ask 100 people to choose between A, B or C. If you say “ONLY 10% chose A” or “90% chose B or C”. What if given those stats, 88% chose C? That’s a terrible example, but hopefully the point was made. Ideally, you would say A=10%, B=2% and C=88% but if you wanted to alter someone’s perception (which people do all the time), you see how easy it is.

REAL WORLD EXAMPLE
A few weeks back I was discussing a websites performance with a client. We had just completed a redesign and they couldn’t understand why their page views and time on site had decreased. After digging some and comparing the old site to the new site we determined that the old site navigation wasn’t as clear. Their customers had to go through more pages to find what they wanted. The site had the same number of visitors and the same number of sales. In this case, if this client had chosen to use only page views as their core determinant then it would have been logical to call the redesign a failure. [BTW, their traffic and probably their sales will be increasing soon because of the SEO we integrated into the new site. Sorry I couldn’t resist.]

Many sites that I manage determine success by an order/sale or by a form submittal, others covet pure traffic. Personally, I suppose if I had to pick just one it would be “Visits”. I would only select this because I know the conversion rates of all the websites I manage and I know that the conversion rates stay consistent regardless of visits. So I know that if I convert .005 percent of all visitors and I increased visitors, then I know I increased sales. Of course that’s cheating…

CONCLUSION
You really need to look at all aspects to truly determine the success or failure of a website. You should even look at external factors like seasonality and overall web traffic for your verticals. The truth is each site has a different idea about success, just PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE don’t use “HITS”. You need to find your own determinant. You need to find what’s most important to you or your client and stop reading my blog articles and stealing mine. 🙂

Advertisements