Data Driven Decision Making

We talk a lot in the “web” world about Google analytics and some of the neat features that the tool provides. However having the tool is only half the battle. I wonder how many people are really using the tool to help make decisions? Part of the issue is of course staffing and how do we use tools to their full potential when we ourselves or our most of the time limited staff are already worked overtime.

Here are a few things to keep in mind and think about:

1. Make the time to start tracking
As tough as it may be you have to start looking at something. In my first year collecting data I decided to look at unique visitors and total visits. I just started tracking something.

2.  Start to report to who ever you can
Depending on who you report to you may be asked to provide weekly, monthly, or annual reports to your director, vice president, senior leadership team, or board of trustees. Start reporting. Make sure you have a caveat that says with out three to five years of comparison data year to year results are inconclusive. But your superiors will appreciate you trying to quantify your work.

3. Don’t be afraid when things don’t work
The first thing you learn when you start to look at data is that it does not always back up every decision you make. Be prepared for this. It’s not the end of the world.

4. The data is your friend
As you start to use data more and more it can help you make decisions, back up your intuitions, and even motivate staff on creative projects because they can start to see their results.

2 Responses to Data Driven Decision Making

  1. Paul, in my view, you are on to something here. Too many times, we don’t even track or consider the most easy to collect data. As we prepare to launch the new William & Mary website (, tasks related to ROI and data analysis are on my to-do list. Your post has inspired me to move these tasks to the critical path of my project plan. Thanks.

  2. Paul Redfern says:


    The data element was probably the single most important thing I did the first year after we did our redesign.

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