A Moment of Clarity

More data is always better– that is, until it paralyzes you.

You’ll probably find that, as you learn what happens to the visitors on your site, the more you’ll want to learn. You’ll test pages in relation to each other and see what website’s traffic converts better.

Some people make a great living doing this. It’s profitable. You probably could too.

One day, however, around the time 10th time we’ve calculated whether it’s more effective to launch a post on a Monday or a Saturday, something might occur to us. We might have what some would call a revelation.

On this day, the morning light will come in from the window. We will look down at the coffee we just made for ourselves as we were checking our stats for the day, and something will click. At that moment, we will realize that we’ve spent more time dissecting and analyzing content than actually creating it.

We will realize that instead of making, we have been optimizing.

Then, we will look up from our screen and think “Hold on– I’m not happy with this at all. I didn’t get into this business to watch what other people do.” We will realize how long it’s really been. We will look at our most visited websites and see that none of them have to do with anything we actually really like. We’ll have changed.

But only some of us will realize this.

The rest of us will go on testing, analyzing, and noting down the changes. We will have become a form of micro-manager, a kind of subtle bureaucrat that gets excited by looking at percentage points. They will not know it, and those around them will not either.

And I have to ask myself if this is what we want.





11 responses to “A Moment of Clarity”

  1. Jay Avatar

    As someone who has on more than one occasion become addicted to checking Google Analytics, I agree with your main point. Our time would be far better spent creating excellent content, or even networking with others.

    I think checking web traffic stats can be useful, but should not take up much of our time. Perhaps the best solution would be to just check them for a couple minutes each day or less–maybe batched with email checking.

  2. Ray Avatar

    This post came at a great time.I had been struggling with this for awhile.

    Being bombarded daily with gazilions of ways to analyze, optimize, personalize and monetize has left me wondering if I have in fact jumped from the frying pan into the fire having moved from the office to my basement.

    I jumped all over social media becasue it gave me a channel to express myself. It was my motivation to be creative; to write again and to connect with people that I would never meet in person.

    After many years of managing others, I find myself “micro-managing” myself. Instead of creating content, I’m manipulating it to fit into a optimizated square hole.

    Thanks for giving me a slap in the head.

  3. Scarborough Dude Avatar

    The pleasure I get from putting out the DicksnJanes podcast every week would be greatly diminished if I knew or cared about how many people listened. But then I podcast not to make a living, but to make living more fun.

    BTW, I really appreciate your posts!

  4. Julien Avatar

    that’s actually what i like about you, Scarborough Dude.

  5. Deborah Avatar

    It’s a bit like thinking about playing tennis while watching the score board… Just can’t be right. Thanks for another reminder Julien.

  6. Joe Sorge Avatar

    you nailed it! again. thanks for this Julien.
    You’d be surprised how easy this very thing can be in the restaurant biz too.

  7. John McLachlan Avatar

    It’s about choosing to be an artist or a manager. Neither guarantees success, but one is a lot more fun. It’s easy to start as an artist but too soon forget.

  8. Eric Pratum Avatar

    My background is in analytics, and like many people, I love to sit & be fascinated by numbers. However, it always brings it back to reality when someone asks the question, “So, what is this supposed to tell me & why is that important?” It is valuable to collect the data (assuming you have the time), but if it can’t meaningfully inform decisions on how your work is done, you’re better off saving your time & just doing the work that directly pays the bills.

  9. Taylor Davidson Avatar

    Yes. Optimizing -> paralysis -> suboptimal. Listening and modifying are important, but it starts with making.

  10. Daniel Decker Avatar

    Powerful perspective and application way beyond just websites, analytics and the content we create (or don’t create because we’re overly focused on the wrong things).

    I read this post with a life application too and how it relates to life and how we can end up down roads we didn’t intend but we have to realize it in order to get back on track.

  11. Timon Nyakudya Avatar

    Interesting observation.
    Some things we take for granted until someone else opens our eyes and we “see the light”. Moment of clarity for many I’m sure.

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