Is your Web site successful? Try watching your customers

Observing your audience carry out tasks online is intrinsic to Web success.

Observing your audience carry out tasks online is intrinsic to Web success

If your customers fall in the forest of your Web site and you don’t hear them scream, did they really make a sound?

Yes they did. It was the sound of them clicking on the back (I’m outta here and I won’t be back) button.

I’ve been doing this Web thing since 1994 and I still make this awful, basic mistake. I forget that real people—yes real people—actually visit and try to do things on my Web site.

Managing a Web site is like living inside a torture chamber. It is the greatest torture of all because it is an environment without empathy, without any meaningful feedback. Do you think those crude, meaningless statistics about page impressions, visitors and hits are anything other than crude and meaningless?

Behind these cold, lifeless statistics lie the experiences of real people. Yes, real people visit our Web sites and try to do real things. And most of us who work on the Web have no idea as to whether they’re successful or not.

An attendee at one of my workshops was trying to explain what he had learned to his seven-year-old son. His son looked at him with bored eyes until he had an idea. “How do feel when you go to a Web site and you want to play a game and it asks you to sign in?”

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