This article is the first of a series of three articles aiming to answer to What is Analytics, Why, When and How to use it
It is no news to say that understanding your customers needs and behavior and addressing them is one of the main keys toward business success. In the software industry, User Experience (UX) Research provides a great framework for this matter. Analytics is part of this set as the principal quantitative source of user insight.
This series of articles aims to give you a beginning of answers and knowledge about Analytics, from its purpose to its implementation.
The first two paragraphs below are meant to give a bit of context to why we think Analytics is key, and how it is embedded in our projects structure and methodology. They are not universal rules, but correspond to what we at BAM choose to follow. Nonetheless, the logic explained below can for sure be tweaked and applied to other frameworks.
Today, one of the most popular and efficient methodology for driving Web & Mobile projects is Lean-Start-Up, introduced by Eric Ries in 2008.
Instead of spending months perfecting your product before releasing it without knowing how it might perform, you fastly develop a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) that has just enough features to be released and used. You will then be able to quickly gather customer feedbacks, learn from them, and know what do to next.
By shortening your product development cycles, and understanding your customers, you will more easily build a product that efficiently meets customer needs, without wasting budget on un-necessary developments, hence grow a successful business.
In many tech companies, the decision maker regarding the future of the platform is the Product Owner (PO). His responsibility is to dig into the performance of the application, understand the company's market and customers, and ask for developments that will both answer client needs and business growth.
To achieve this, the PO gathers inputs from different departments, and relies heavily on two: UX team + Development team:
- The UX team works on both understanding the customers and designing the product
- The Development team shares and implements technical solutions
- The other departments (like customer support, marketing, sales, etc.) bring their specific business knowledge and vision
You can almost superimpose both graphs (the Lean Startup process + the Product team structure), and see that responsibilities are well attributed to each role.
Hence, we want to get to know the performance of our app, get to know our customers. For that we need to "measure". As said before, the UX team is here to help us through this task.
Among many UX tools, like Usability Testing, User Feedbacks/Surveys, A/B Testing, etc. there is Analytics.
Wikipedia: "Web analytics is the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of web data for purposes of understanding and optimizing web usage."
In other words, it gathers quantitative data about your customers profile and behavior, then translates it into Key Performance Indicators (KPI) and graphs to show how well your app and its features are used by the entire customer base.
You could differentiate two types of KPIs:
Macro KPI: Global performance
- Definition: Displaying key, global and long term performance of the application
- Questions it answers to: Do I have new users? Do people create an account? How is the retention of the app? What type of customers come on my platform? etc.
Micro KPI: Feature performance
- Definition: Displaying localized, feature-specific and short term performance of the app
- Questions it answers to: Is the "search engine" algorithm appropriate? Did we place this key feature in an obvious spot? Do people understand what is this feature used for? etc.
With these information in hand, you will be able to take product decisions that match more closely the needs of all your customers, make them use your product and services more, and drive your growth more efficiently.
No use to say that Analytics alone is not enough, and combining it with the other UX technics is a must to really get to know your customers as a whole and in detail.
In the following article, we discuss about my recommended tool for doing Analytics: Google Analytics.