My friend Lori works at the library. Every time someone asks her a question at work she has a button to press. This counter records how many questions Lori answers. This is an important metric to the library for it measures their service to the public. I asked “What is your most common question?”
Lori said the most common question was “Where’s the bathroom?” The other day some one came in with a very specific question which required quite a bit of research. Lori was with that patron for some time before their request was satisfied.
“Then you got to click it?” “Yes, then I did.”
“Not really the same click is it?” “No, it really isn’t.”
Not really the same click at all.
And that is where we are very fortunate with web site analytics. Customer data which was once very difficult, expensive, if not impossible can now be mined by analytic programs tracking website traffic. This level of data collection is not available in any other media on such a comprehensive level and for such a low cost.
We don’t have to rely on human counters to keep track of visitors. But as we see in the case of the library, to just look at the number of visitors or number of questions answered will never give us an accurate picture. Looking at data must always coincide with context.