While the rest of the web analytics folks attended eMetrics in San Jose last week, I had the pleasure of participating in JBoye’s Philadelphia 09 conference. This was the first US conference for JBoye; Janus started these conferences in Aarhus, Denmark in 2005 as annual user group meetings for his firm’s Communities of Practice…a really great concept in which practitioners with similar interests but in different verticals exchange experiences and learnings on a monthly basis. I’ve had the good fortune of presenting and teaching at the Danish conferences, and had a great time doing a joint session at last week’s event with Susan Fariss, Web Analytics Manager from the American Chemical Society on taking a strategic approach to web analytics implementations.
One of the reasons I like the JBoye conferences is because most of the folks are content managers, information architects and user experience professionals and there is a spirit of conversation, questioning and inquisitiveness that gets me thinking outside of the web analytics box. It also gives me a good perspective on how non-web analysts deal (or not) with web analytics.
Some of the takeaways this time:
1. We (fill in the blank) get no respect
Recurrent themes of a lack of appreciation, respect or influence articulated by content managers, user experience folks and information architects within their organizations would resonate with web analytics people.
A thought: Build more cross-discipline support and help each other out in developing business cases that get joint initiatives funded and recognized by senior management. For more ideas, check out: http://wam.typepad.com/wam/2007/09/california-drea.html and http://wam.typepad.com/wam/2008/05/its-been-awhile.html
2. Soup or Art?
Have you seen Lily Tomlin’s “Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe”? Great show…one of the memorable bits was her holding up a can of tomato soup and asking the crowd if it was just soup or art (a la Warhol).
I saw something similar in Erik Hartman’s and Bob Boiko’s presentation about an Information Management Framework and trying to get content managers to think of themselves not only as managers of Content Management Systems, but Information Managers who are responsible for providing quality information to their stakeholders.
In the same vein, I thought of how many of us in the web analytics space spend a lot of time talking about tools and techniques, rather than the information and analysis we provide. Something to think about...
I got into the concept of web analytics and qualitative techniques at roughly the same time I started managing web sites…1996. I used WebTrends, surveys, interviews and usability testing to change web site content, navigation and interface design…this just seemed like the thing to do. So I guess I’ve never understood why analytics seems like a foreign concept to those on the content side of the house.
Check out my post http://www.cmswatch.com/Trends/1592-Web-Analytics-Vs-Design about the discussion over Douglas Bowman's leaving Google over a tiff about web analytics.
The next JBoye conference is scheduled in Aarhus at the beginning of November. I suggest if you’re looking for a conference with a bit of personality, you should check it out….speaking of conferences with personality, remember to put X Change on your calendar for September.