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    February 21, 2008

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    Alex Beskin

    There are 3 metrics that can measure success/failure of any site redesign – uniques, page views and advertisement $ before and after redesign. Obviously the goal of any site redesign is to improve user’s experience and navigation / search capabilities, however the final result is always advertisement $. When redesigning online media site your new site will look/feel completely different than the old site, so testing anything within old site’s environment won’t make much sense. In ideal world - when you launch your new site – you first run both sites together (old one and new one), while only small % of the traffic is going to the new site. Thus you can actually evaluate which one does better, get a feedback on a new site, learn what’s working, what’s not, and then slowly increase the traffic as you feel more comfortable with the results (this is what yahoo did when they launched they redesigned home page a year ago). However most of the site redesigns are being launched over night and morning after company has to deal with a new site, bugs, issues and everything else that hadn’t been thought through.
    SF Gate's page views were declining month over month since Jan-07 (page views per person were declining as well), while uniques were in the same range for the last year. Decrease in page views was probably main driver behind site redesign, since site was loosing ad sales $. This actually would be interesting to see if new site will be able to increase page views, while maintaining at least the same level of uniques.

    Alex L. Cohen

    Well, hey there June.

    I usually ask the same questions. It's a good thing nerdy is the new black.

    The answer is likely no. Opinion tends to rule the day more than testing, though it should not. If you ask me, I think the web analytics community needs to reach out to the graphic design and web development community for a bit of co-education. We're all about the same thing: user experience for bottom line results.

    After I heard Eric's RAMP speech at eMetrics, I conducted an informal poll of people I ran into and only 25% had done any testing. And that's a sophisticated audience!

    Maybe you should write a book called "Don't Make Me Guess: A marketer's guide to data driven decision making" as a corollary to Steve Krug's great book. :-)

    June

    @Alex: Like you, I feel like there's *something* we measurement people ought to be doing to reach out and convince the web dev people that testing is really the best way to roll out redesign changes. And, like you, I do have the sneaking suspicion that the SFGate changes were made with no testing whatsoever. It's a technical issue and a political issue and a comfort-with-numbers issue, and I intend to keep talking about it. I hope you do, too.

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