Archive for September, 2008

What’s in my RSS reader? – September 2008

Monday, September 29th, 2008

I’ve decided to start a new, semi-regular, series called, “What’s in my RSS reader?”

At least once a month I want to share some of the rss feeds I subscribe to that pertain to *anything* website-oriented. Most of them are higher education related, but not all.

The rules (can you tell I like rules?) – The subject of the blog can be web analytics (yay!), design, usability, copywriting, or anything else. The only rule is that it pertains to websites (web design, development, marketing, anything – but it has to be about the web). Again, hopefully most of them pertain to higher education as well, however, sometimes you have to broaden your horizons.

So, here is my list for the month of September, 2008 …

Web 2.0, Silos, and Losing Control

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.

- Niccolo Machiavelli from The Prince, 1532

That quote was the intro paragraph to an interesting article in the September issue of Campus Technology called Change Management Meets Web 2.0. Wow. Isn’t it amazing that a quote from 1532 could hold as true today as it did then? What’s more interesting is the next line of that original quote:

Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new.

How true. How true. Of course now we’re talking about Web 2.0 (new technologies, new attitudes toward web content) instead of acquiring principalities. But what do we fear? Why is there still some apprehension about Web 2.0 in higher education? I think it can all boil down to losing control (and something else I’ll get into later). As instructors, we lose control to our students. As marketers, we lose control to our advisers, admissions staff, and students. I think we need to come to grips with the fact that losing control in this scenario is ok. In fact, I think it’s essential.

Why Do We Care About Path Analysis?

Thursday, September 18th, 2008

Your answer should be, “we don’t.”

Path analysis is bunk. Why do analytics vendors spend so much time on path analysis reports and tools? Taken in context, *some* of the pathing tools can be useful, but giving us a tree diagram of complete paths is completely useless, in my opinion. What does it tell you? Absolutely nothing.

What makes it even more frustrating is how *pretty* the darn tree diagram reports are. Never show this report to anyone! Otherwise you’ll be getting requests for path analysis reports and will end up wasting your valuable time when you could be analyzing your 404 or most popular page reports!

Everyday Usability – Help! I’m Lost!

Monday, September 15th, 2008

As I mentioned in my Usability at McDonald’s post a couple weeks ago, usability goes way beyond websites. We encounter it everyday – in grocery stores, in restaurants, in forms we fill out at the doctor’s office, on street signs, and everywhere else.

It’s so important for website creators (whether you’re the designer, developer, content creator, marketer, or tied to the website in any other way) to constantly think about usability … and think about it from an *outsiders* standpoint.

“Is my website usable?”

“Is my website usable for people who know nothing about my website?”

Song of the “every other” week?

Sunday, September 14th, 2008

I’ve made an executive decision.

After the one post a day series, I’m finding myself (not unexpectedly) posting much less often than I had been in the past. When I originally came up with the idea of the “Song of the Week,” my intention was to take a weekly break from web analytics and do something that is purely for fun. Now I’m finding that the song of the week seems to be published with only one or two posts between them – not much of a diversion if it’s becoming the norm, huh?

So, as of this week, I will be publishing the song of the week twice a month. So, the next song of the week post will be Monday, September 22nd.

Real World Example – Search Engine Traffic

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008

Let’s get back to talking analytics with a real-world example.

Last week a colleague of mine came to me with a problem. He was optimizing his program website for a few keyword phrases (via organic and paid SEO) that pertain to a specific program he was promoting to prospective students. Although those keyword phrases were getting a *ton* of traffic to his site, he was getting a lot of click-throughs, but nothing else. Why?

Usability at McDonald’s

Friday, September 5th, 2008

Those who know me know I love iced tea. I drink it all the time. My entire family is a huge *plain* iced tea family. No lemon. No sugar. Nothing. Plain. When I think about sweet tea, my inner ten-year-old comes out. I curl my toes, crinkle my nose and say, “ewwww.”

Where am I going with this? Stay with me. I’m getting there.

Web 2.0 is no excuse not to use web analytics!

Thursday, September 4th, 2008

I’m not sure how to even start this post. I hate using the term Web 2.0 because it’s come to mean *anything* and therefore not really mean anything. This all isn’t new, but if you think about it, higher education websites are just starting to scratch the surface using blogs, wikis, Twitter, Facebook, Second Life, and others.

How do you know it’s working? How do you know your users/students/etc are finding this stuff useful?