In general, I really don’t like being told that I’m wrong.
I was having a discussion with one of my pals this week about some most likely well-intentioned but otherwise unsolicited advice, and about the whole concept that there exists a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ when it comes to your website.
Right Thing To Do and Wrong Thing To Do don’t exist without a) a goal, and b) an independent control. And even then, there is only better or worse, which is still a subjective determination in many cases.
All we have is what is Right For Me or Wrong For Me, according to my goals, my experiences, and my personal value set.
There Are Others
Certainly, there are general industry best practices and That Which Has Worked For Others that can be emulated, but unless we evaluate each of these things against our goals, and then implement them contrasted against some independent control in order to evaluate a distinct metric, then there is never a right or wrong.
I firmly believe every decision we make, especially in regard to our websites, should have a distinct rationale, a reason for making the change, and a measurement of whether or not that change was successful.
Why did you lead with the fear of loss headline? Was it because the fear of loss headline increased time spent on the page by a significant amount, which deepened the typical user’s exploration of the site? Or because it sounded snappy?
Why did you put that item in your header navigation? Because placing it there increased traffic to that feature which increased inquiries? Or did it just fit well?
Unless you test, you’re just guessing, or worse, using anecdotal evidence. And if you’re testing without knowing your goals, then you’ve got no standard by which to measure results.
All I Can Tell You…
These are the thoughts running through my head as we approach REBlogWorld, where I get to talk about driving traffic using paid advertising, something I’ve been doing for quite a while now, and which also makes for a lovely testing framework. And even so – all I can tell you is what works for me, and I can teach you my methods so that you can determine if what works for me will also work for you.
And no, the irony isn’t lost on me that I’m ranting about being told what to do in the midst of telling you what to do. But at least the only thing I’m pushing is that you figure out objectively what works for you, according to your own goals.
September 6, 2008 at 12:49 am
would I be wrong in saying that you are right
September 6, 2008 at 1:21 pm
Kelly, I sooooooooooooo agree with the premise of this post. What works in my area, may not work in another area. Heck, I know some folks that have great placement with Advanced Access sites. If something is working for me, then I am like a duck the “general opinion” of the masses doesn’t matter to me,and I let it roll of my back.
September 6, 2008 at 3:38 pm
Kelly I agree with Missy who agrees with you. I have a similar blog post brewing regarding utilizing what works for you based on your needs, style, what you are capable of and what your budget and time demands allow. There is no right or wrong way in general. It depends on the who what and where.
September 6, 2008 at 8:18 pm
I will be listening intently to what you have to say as I need more traffic can not wait for you to speak:)
September 7, 2008 at 1:27 pm
If everybody did the “right” thing, then we would all be doing the “same” thing, this would make for a very “boring” thing!
Those who break away, get out of the box and try new “things” until they hit on some”thing” that works are innovators who create the next “thing” that everybody does.
September 7, 2008 at 1:37 pm
This is probably the most brilliant comments I have read in a long time:
“I firmly believe every decision we make, especially in regard to our websites, should have a distinct rationale, a reason for making the change, and a measurement of whether or not that change was successful.”