Sunday, January 23rd, 2022
Saturday, December 4th, 2021
We’ve got click rates, impressions, conversion rates, open rates, ROAS, pageviews, bounces rates, ROI, CPM, CPC, impression share, average position, sessions, channels, landing pages, KPI after never ending KPI.
That’d be fine if all this shit meant something and we knew how to interpret it. But it doesn’t and we don’t.
The reality is much simpler, and therefore much more complex. Most of us don’t understand how data is collected, how these mechanisms work and most importantly where and how they don’t work.
Tuesday, November 23rd, 2021
Even if you can somehow justify using tracking technologies (which don’t work reliably) to make general, statistical decisions (“fewer people open our emails when the subject contains the word ‘overdraft’!”), you can’t make individual decisions based on them. That’s just wrong.
Prompted by my post on tracking, Chris does some soul searching about his own use of tracking.
I’m interested not just in the ethical concerns and my long-time complacency with industry norms, but also as someone who very literally sells advertising.
He brings up the point that advertisers expect to know how many people opened a particular email and how many people clicked on a particular link. I’m sure that’s right, but it’s also beside the point: what matters is how the receiver of the email feels about having that information tracked. If they haven’t given you permission to do it, you can’t just assume they’re okay with it.
Tuesday, November 16th, 2021
The idea that it’s alright to do whatever unethical thing is currently the industry norm is widespread in tech, and dangerous.
It stood out to me because I had been thinking about certain practices that are widespread, accepted, and yet strike me as deeply problematic. These practices involve tracking users.
The first problem is that even the terminology I’m using would be rejected. When you track users on your website, it’s called analytics. Or maybe it’s stats. If you track users on a large enough scale, I guess you get to just call it data.
Those words—“analytics”, “stats”, and “data”—are often used when the more accurate word would be “tracking.”
Or to put it another way; analytics, stats, data, numbers …these are all outputs. But what produced these outputs? Tracking.
Here’s a concrete example: email newsletters.
Do you have numbers on how many people opened a particular newsletter? Do you have numbers on how many people clicked a particular link?
You can call it data, or stats, or analytics, but make no mistake, that’s tracking.
Follow-on question: do you honestly think that everyone who opens a newsletter or clicks on a link in a newsletter has given their informed constent to be tracked by you?
You may well answer that this is a widespread—nay, universal—practice. Well yes, but a) that’s not what I asked, and b) see the above quote from Design For Safety.
You could quite correctly point out that this tracking is out of your hands. Your newsletter provider—probably Mailchimp—does this by default. So if the tracking is happening anyway, why not take a look at those numbers?
But that’s like saying it’s okay to eat battery-farmed chicken as long as you’re not breeding the chickens yourself.
When I try to argue against this kind of tracking from an ethical standpoint, I get a frosty reception. I might have better luck battling numbers with numbers. Increasing numbers of users are taking steps to prevent tracking. I had a plug-in installed in my mail client—Apple Mail—to prevent tracking. Now I don’t even need the plug-in. Apple have built it into the app. That should tell you something. It reminds me of when browsers had to introduce pop-up blocking.
If the outputs generated by tracking turn out to be inaccurate, then shouldn’t they lose their status?
But that line of reasoning shouldn’t even by necessary. We shouldn’t stop tracking users because it’s inaccurate. We should stop stop tracking users because it’s wrong.
Monday, November 16th, 2020
A handy tool for getting an overview of your site’s CSS:
CSS Stats provides analytics and visualizations for your stylesheets. This information can be used to improve consistency in your design, track performance of your app, and diagnose complex areas before it snowballs out of control.
Monday, April 8th, 2019
Sunday, November 25th, 2018
Monday, July 31st, 2017
A Weekly Journal of Visual Essays
Some lovely data visualisation here.
Friday, April 14th, 2017
So do you really know which are the top browsers, both amongst your existing customers and your potential audience? Perhaps it’s worth taking a closer look; it might just be time to check your site in some of the lesser-known, yet popular browsers like UC, Yandex and Samsung Internet.
Monday, April 10th, 2017
If you ever need to pull up some case studies to demonstrate the business benefits of performance, Tammy and Tim have you covered.
Monday, October 26th, 2015
I concur with this sentiment:
If you are starting a new blog, or have one already, the best thing you can do is turn off all analytics.
Especially true for your own personal site:
Just turn them off now. Then, write about whatever the fuck you want to write about.
Friday, April 25th, 2014
Huffduff up and up
Stan was asking about numbers for Huffduffer’s user base and activity. I have to admit that I’ve got zero analytics running on the site. To be honest, I’m okay with that—one of the perks of having a personal project is that only metric that really matters is your own satisfaction. But I told Stan I’d run some quick database queries to get some feeling for Huffduffer’s usage patterns. Here’s what I found…
There are 5,862 people signed up to Huffduffer.
About 150,919 items have been huffduffed. But those aren’t unique files. The total number of distinct files that have been huffduffed is 5,972. That means that, on average, an audio file is huffduffed around 26 times. And the average user has huffduffed around 30 items. But neither of those distributions would be evenly distributed; they’d be power-law distributions rather than bell curves. For example, the most popular file was huffduffed 329 times.
Looking at the amount of items huffduffed each year, there’s a pleasing upward trend.
I was pleasantly surprised by this. I would’ve assumed that Huffduffer usage would be more of a steady-state affair, but it looks like the site is getting used a bit more with each passing year (the site is currently in its sixth(!) year).
Not that any of that really matters. I built Huffduffer to scratch my own itch. I huffduff an average of 411 audio files each year. So even if nobody else used Huffduffer, it would still provide plenty of value to me.
Like I was saying to Stan, the biggest strength and the biggest weakness of audio—as opposed to text or video—is that you can listen to it while your doing other things. For some people, car journeys are the perfect podcast time. For others, it might be doing the dishes or train journeys. For me, it’s the walk to and from work each day—it takes about 35 minutes each way, and I catch up on my Huffduffer feed during that time.
Jessica and I will often listen to some spoken word audio in the background during dinner—usually something quite radio-y like Radiolab, or NPR stories. Yesterday, we were catching up with Aleks’s BBC documentary series, The Digital Human. It was the episode about voice.
Imagine my surprise when I heard the voice of Stan Alcorn. What a co-inky-dink!
Friday, February 28th, 2014
A lovely bit of data celebration from Ravelry on the occasion of their 4 millionth user.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if you want to see a successful example of a real social networking site, don’t look at Facebook; look at Ravelry.
Friday, August 30th, 2013
Some good-lookin’ stats from a responsive redesign:
Total page views, a metric we were prepared to see go down with the redesign, are up by 27%. Unique visitors per week are up 14% on average and visits per week are up on average 23%.
Wednesday, February 27th, 2013
I heartily concur with Luke’s call for sharing of data:
If you’ve had success with a responsive design, my plea to you is to please share what you’ve learned.
I’m going to see if I can get some Clearleft clients to open up.
Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013
I’ve never been a fan of carousels on websites, to put it mildy. It seems I am not alone. And if you doubt the data, ask yourself this: when was the last time you, as a user, interacted with a carousel on any website?
Tuesday, December 11th, 2012
A great breakdown of mobile traffic to The Guardian website over time.
Monday, August 20th, 2012
Luke collates some useful mobile browsing statistics once again. Most of it is quite US-centric, but this closing point is a whopper:
36 countries more than doubled their Opera Mini user bases in one year.
Saturday, July 11th, 2009
Trammell outlines the thoughtful, research-based approach that Digg will be taking in phasing out IE6 support.