Untangling Web Analytics with Steve Dalgleish
February 28, 2013
By Kevin Renton
Networking in the Edinburgh technology and digital community has never been better. There is a lot of buzz in this city around digital, and there are a lot of people working in this vibrant sector. Attending events is a great way to exchange ideas and be part of this community. As someone who is interested in the digital world in my personal and professional life, one of my favourites is the Web Analytics Wednesday (WAW) – hosted by Steve Dalgleish, director of Lynchpin; the UKs only independent web analytics consultancy.
The inaugural event at the Voodoo Rooms in Edinburgh with Chris Rourke (Uservision) and Clancy Child (Google) was absolutely packed. This wasn’t a surprise, as Steve already had London’s WAW up and running, and with Google there to talk about the new and exciting things they are up to right now, it was bound to be a good night. The second WAW, which was a Q&A forum with Andrew Hood (Lynchpin) and Paul Newbury (Yard) had tough competition – the weather and Real Madrid vs Manchester United – yet the Edinburgh Analytics community still turned out in style.
I caught up with Steve Dalgleish at Lynchpin’s Edinburgh HQ to discuss the hot topics discussed at the last event.
Where to start with analytics?
The most obvious question seems to be ‘what analytics tools should you use?’ Steve immediately turns this on its head. “It’s the last question of four that you should be asking. Start off with what your online objectives are, what are the key performance indicators, and what data is available. Only then, you can look at the tools that suit the answers to your initial questions. Too often organisations choose an analytics tool and they go ‘ok what can we do with this?’”
Where does UX fit in?
‘User experience with analytics’ sparked an interesting discussion on the night – do they conflict or are they complementary? Steve says that they answer two questions; why and what. “Usability will answer the why question. You get qualitative data, whereby 100 people complete the same task and [for example] buy a T-shirt on your website; it answers why they were there and whether they completed that task. Analytics will answer the what question; yes it can tell you that the user bought a T-shirt on your site and what they did, but it misses the initial question of why they were there. Maybe they were there to buy a pair of shoes?”
What about mobile?
Mobile was also a highlight, with a lot of people speaking about apps versus mobile, responsive sites and so on. Andrew Hood’s comment of “what is mobile? A mainframe in a caravan?” got a laugh on the night and aptly puts the question into perspective. Mobile means different things to different people but the analytical tools are there to measure. It’s obvious that users use their smartphones differently from tablets or desktops and it can skew the analytic results. “It’s the interpretation that counts,” Steve interjects, “the main question that analytics can answer is what your mobile solution should be – do you need a mobile-specific solution or should your website scale over multiple devices?”
I ask Steve where he sees the future of analytics. “The data will come together between online analytics. MI and BI, they are ‘siloed’ at the moment, predominantly because of the tools that are out there, but this will come together and will give organisations more insight to their business and communications.”
The question and answer session at the WAW events are very insightful. It’s very apparent that businesses are becoming more sophisticated in the use of analytics – long gone are the days where hits on your homepage were the numbers that you were looking at. Ultimately as the world of analytics becomes more ubiquitous, businesses will be empowered to leverage information in a way that greatly impacts their future. If you know what the capabilities are then you know which questions you aim to answer with web analytics.
Wrapping up with Steve it’s good to see company that is a market leader based in Edinburgh. If you’re in the digital community and web analytics is your thing then I hope to see you at the next WAW. For more information check out the blog on the Lynchpin website (www.lynchpin.com/blog).
Take me back.