The Web is a wonderfully measurable medium. Clickthroughs, pageviews and revenues have become the watchwords in data centers and marketing departments throughout the land.

But most companies seem to blithely ignore one set of metrics--their customers' feelings.

  • Did you find what you were looking for?
  • Did you achieve what you set out to accomplish?
  • How do you feel about the company after your visit to our site?

Aside from server logs, click-stream tracking and a host of analytics tools, it's necessary to consider customer experience and customer satisfaction. This is the art of peering into the hearts and minds of visitors, rather than simply following them around.

It's Time to Ask Them for Their Opinion

We do our best to gauge customer experience through focus groups and usability studies. Put a volunteer in front of a browser, give him a task (find the return policy on left-handed scissors) and watch him flounder.

Record his actions and ask for his feedback. The Nielsen/Norman Group and User Interface Engineering have been doing this for years. They both have excellent newsletters on the subject, as does Good Experience.

But usability testing is a time-consuming process. Yes, you can come up with a list of Web site mistakes that will take a year's worth of development to fix after testing only five or six people.

But how do you know you found the most important problems? The most universal problems? The ones you should fix first? For that, you need more subjects.

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image of Jim Sterne

Jim Sterne ( is the founder and director of Target Marketing (, founder of the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit, and the founding president and current chairman of the Web Analytics Association.