This blog is written by Evan LaPointe. I live in Atlanta and have been “doing stuff online” for somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 years. While this experience was being gained, I learned a very valuable lesson: “experience” is the most dangerous thing in this industry: we can’t depend on what we learned last time in hopes it will fix our problems this time – things simply change too quickly.
The mind is slow to unlearn what it learnt early.
This quote works well in the worlds of analytics, usability, design, marketing, programming, and more, where we can fall into patterns that prove ineffective over time. Experience is certainly valuable on the web, but not without a healthy portion of awareness.
Before returning to my geek roots, I spent several years doing research on publicly traded companies. The job was valuation, and it really snapped my brain into understanding how companies work, what makes them work better, and how their operations, marketing, product horizon, and management translate into cash flow and shareholder value. Often, we don’t know how our particular contribution really adds up in the big picture. This work built a mental elevator for me between the top strategic floors and the bottom tactical floors, opening my eyes to how important it is to understand how small things work both on their own and in concert to impact the bottom line and valuation. And these small things aren’t just the outcomes of operations, but much more importantly: the operations themselves. And heaven knows our operations online suck.
The stuff I’ve been doing since then has spanned from ground-up design to search engine marketing, and everything in between, and it all rolls up nicely into web analytics. In working with large brands, and all sorts of companies of varying sizes, I’ve learned so many things through my own real-world successes and failures (although we should think of a better word than failures) that I figured it was time to start bouncing ideas off of other people to see what they thought, too. This blog is that effort.
In the 15 years I’ve been developing, marketing, analyzing, improving, and teasing out the value of web sites and operations, I’ve been lucky or cursed enough to have worked on almost all aspects of what makes a web site work, both from a user’s perspective and the business’s. From search engine marketing to HTML, PHP, SQL, to graphical design to retargeting to display on both publisher and advertiser side, I’ve been thrown into more pools than the guys on Jackass, and with over 100 implementations of Omniture SiteCatalyst and Google Analytics behind me, you might call me the most unspecialized and tired web analytics person in the world.
But what I’ve come to find out is that you can’t even hope to be effective if you haven’t been in all of these different places, and if you can’t look at the concert, rather than just the individual instruments. If you’ve ever seen a decision made in one area of a site that harmed another effort, you know what I’m talking about. Over-specialization has made professionals in this industry very adept at saying, “That’s not my job,” which is just unacceptable. If nobody is going to take ownership of managing the site and make holistic decisions, we just get the output of the strongest personalities.
If you’re looking for a web analytics expert, let me know (ways to contact me listed at the bottom). Either I’ll be able to help you, or I’ll get you pointed in the right direction. Finding a real, bona fide expert in web analytics is one of the most frustrating experiences businesses go through, because the new vocabularies and esoteric skill sets mean there are a lot of people selling snake oil, and it’s sad to see business dissatisfied and jaded with their pasts in this industry.
Please have a look at my personal site for more information on me, my other blogs, and whatever else I’ve cooked up over there. I can be reached on twitter, where I’m @evanlapointe, and I’m on facebook. The other networks I’m a part of can be found on the social networks page of my site. We hope you enjoy your stay.