Agenda Amplifiers

Recently, I was in a meeting where a designer was showing off an analytics chart featuring their site’s bounce rate. “See how the bounce rate is 96%,” the designer told the audience. “People are coming to the site, getting bored with the content, and leaving immediately. We need to redesign the page to make it more attractive to stay.” In another place at another time, I watched a designer present heat map diagrams of two pages—one was the old page and the other was a proposed redesigned new page. “See how there’s a big red blotch over the ‘Meetings’ link in the new page, but there’s no similar red blotch in the old page, where that link read ‘Meetings and Events’,” this designer explained to her audience. “The eye tracking data clearly shows that users preferred the link when it was just ‘Meetings’.’It was too complicated when it had both meetings and events in it. We need to change to the simpler link.” In both presentations, there’s an agenda. The designers are trying to convince the stakeholders to accept their recommendations. To do that, they are presenting charts and heat maps to support their case. The problem is, if you know how to read the charts and heat maps, they don’t support these designers’ assertions. The bounce rate doesn’t mean the users are necessarily bored. The chart doesn’t say that at all. For all we know, the users could’ve found the page’s content fascinating and exactly what they wanted. If they are satisfied, they are done. Leaving would be the right thing to do. And the heat map-bearing designer...