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Don't Call Me Average

March 10, 2009  

In a post on Key Performance Indicators (KPI) at the Occam's Razor blog, Avinash Kaushik facetiously asks readers to raise their hands if they think they're average. "No one is 'average' and no user experience is 'average,'" he argues. That's the reason he believes averages—despite their ubiquity—often serve to muddy the analytical waters.

Let's say visitors spend an average of 51 seconds at your site and view an average of 1.3 pages. "Ok you know something," says Avinash. "Now what? Are you any wiser? Do you know any better what to do next? Any brilliant insights? No."

To glean more useful information from averages, he has two recommendations:

  • Segment the data. You'll be able to ask better questions if you know that visitors who arrive via social media links and paid search stay for an average of 35 seconds and 32 seconds, respectively, while those who come from organic searches linger for 74 seconds.
  • Use distributions. The length of an average visit might be 204 seconds—but it's more helpful to know that over 50 percent last a scant 0-10 seconds while over 20 percent of your visitors stick around for at least 181 seconds.

The Po!nt: "Averages have an astonishing capacity to give you 'average' data," says Avinash. "[T]hey have a great capacity to lie, and they hinder decision making." By drilling more deeply into the data, you'll better avoid these pitfalls.

Source: Occam's Razor. Click here for the full post.

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