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Data and Insight From Data Driven Design

By: Pasquale Scerbo

Here at Extractable, we are strong advocates of the data-driven design approach to creating powerful, enjoyable and successful web and digital experiences for users. You’ve heard us talking about our experiences with data-driven design at conferences and in person, but we wanted to go further and learn about how firms across America, both b2b and b2c, used data in their design processes, what tools they used and what outcomes they generated.

So we commissioned a study from Forrester Consulting to do just that!

The full study: “Data-Driven Design,” a commissioned study conducted by Forrester consulting on behalf of Extractable, April 2012 is now available for download on our site. Download the Whitepaper

We have also created a great infographic of the key findings.


Here are some key findings and what we at Extractable have learned from the study.

We saw two key findings in the study.

Firstly, some 60% of firms surveyed had seen improvements in their website due to use of data. And, if the company also reported they had a repeatable design process, the numbers reporting improvement grew to 71%. This is a powerful result. To us as advocates of incorporating data in the design process, the result is a key validation that the process can produce measurable business outcomes. On a daily basis the projects we undertake for our clients using data-driven design are seeing positive results which we are now seeing across a larger and diverse sample size.

However, the second key finding is that many firms are struggling with data: measuring the wrong kinds of data; missing out on key inputs; and even ignoring key data points.

Some specific examples from the study include:

  • Companies don’t know how or can’t apply the right tools and processes to optimize their sites. Only 28% of companies are happy with the tools and techniques they use to measure their websites today. As high as 52% believe there are other tools that could provide them with better insight.
  • Many firms are measuring the wrong kinds of data. Sites are often measured on metrics that don’t show business value. For example, 46% of respondents indicated they used “time on site” as a key measure. This doesn’t always indicate a positive experience—it could also mean that users are lost trying to navigate the site.
  • Some key data is being ignored. 37% report ignoring data that is uncovered and 34% that they gather data but do not use it. Sometimes this seems to be a factor of the ‘Highest Paid Person’s Opinion’ overriding the insights drawn from key data.

Based on the study and our own experiences, it seems that many firms understand the value of data, are looking for the best ways to use it, but fall short in terms of creating a strong data-driven design process, supported by the right skills, teams and tools to be effective.

After reviewing the study, the strategy team here at Extractable synthesized our thoughts into some core recommendations. To make the most of data-driven design, companies should look to:

  • Define the metrics for the site based primarily on the central business goals/outcome of the site (or other digital asset), such as sales, leads, customer service efficiency, etc.
  • Measure the right set of data that will allow you to see the effect of the changing elements of the experience on that goal/outcome.
  • Include a wider set of data/tools, including behavioral tools as well as data from non-web systems such as financial/sales and customer service tools, to ensure you understand why users are doing what they are doing.
  • Apply these insights to the design process. Test the updated designs, analyze the results and repeat.