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Mar 22, 2009: Marrying Web Analytics and User Experience

Yes, I'm still working on that book. But I don't feel too bad about it taking so long. I've learned quite a bit about site search analytics in the process, and the book will be much better for it. I've also started working with Marko Hurst, my new co-author, who adds a different dimension to the topic: while I'm a UX person being pulled toward analytics, Marko is an analytics person who has become expert in UX.

An unexpected outcome of working with a quant like Marko is that I have a much better understanding of how analytics people use data. While we UXers look for patterns to emerge from the data—a bottom-up process—Web Analytics pros start with metrics and do their analysis from the top down. (And one might argue that most of us start in the wrong place—canned reports—that constitute the middle ground.)

Combining the top-down and bottom-up approaches might lead to a new framework for combining Web Analytics and User Experience. If this is the case, then we might have a fighting chance to close the feedback loop between these practices, and truly integrate the work of quals and quants. The implications for any organization performing user research could be far-reaching.

Heh. Now that I've set some ridiculous expectations, let me note that I'll be covering this framework at a couple of upcoming keynotes:

Hope to see you at one of them!

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Comment: James Kelway (Mar 24, 2009)

I am really glad that this book is being produced as its something that we do not really have in the community. The bridge between analytics and UX needs to be talked about, and focussed on.

Then each domain will acknowledge the importance of each other, which in turn will strengthen both in the eyes of business in general. I am blogging about it at the moment and I would be really interested if you have any thoughts about what I cover there.


Comment: Lou (Mar 24, 2009)

Thanks Jim, I'll definitely check it out. I'm wondering why this "marriage" discussion doesn't come up more often or, if it does, where? I've certainly not seen much on it...

Comment: Evan (Mar 24, 2009)

I'm also glad that this subject is being explored in more depth. I've always seen the relationship between the UX and analytics, but haven't had the opportunity to study it. Best of luck to you and Marko.

Comment: Erik (Mar 25, 2009)

"Combining the top-down and bottom-up approaches might lead to a new framework for combining Web Analytics and User Experience."

I'm excited to see if your exploration will lead to a useful hybrid approach. As for setting ridiculous expectations, please do keep aiming high!

Comment: Andrea (Mar 26, 2009)

Perfect! I know you are doing the right thing when one day I think to myself "I really need X. Is Lou doing a book on it yet?" and two days later you blog about it.

While this book concept has been hanging out for a long time, I'm happy about a shift from just search analytics to the broader web analytics. There is clearly a need for a "hands on" book that's accessible for practitioners trying to build this in their organization.

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