Youre familiar, no doubt, with the ancient Indian parable of the six blind men and the elephant. Each examines the elephant by touching a different part, and each comes away with a different impression of the beast.
Measuring the success or failure of a Web site is a lot like that. In our experience, each online project has multiple groups of stakeholders, and each has a different take on what will make the project a success. For that reason, whenever we set out to measure the success of a Web project, we begin by bringing together all the stakeholders and having each define his or her goals for the system under consideration. In a recent engagement, for example, we were given the task of developing a set of metrics to monitor an intranet site that provided employees at a large electronics company with everything they could possibly desire to know about human resources. The goal of the metrics project was to determine the "success" of the HRNet Web site.
First, we brought together business people, IT people, human resources professionals and employees who had used the system. We asked each group to specify its goals for a successful HRNet Web site.
The next step was to come up with a series of questions and metrics corresponding to the various goals. For the business group, which wanted to attract top talent, for example, we decided to measure the number of employees hired and lost in the year before HRNet, the number hired and lost since the inception of HRNet, and user satisfaction with the site. For the IT group, we decided to measure site response time and the ease with which nontechnical employees could update the site. For the HR group, we measured site hit rates, among other factors. And we decided to survey employees to measure the sites ease of use, currency of information and personalized service.
Not surprisingly, all those measurements generated a lot of data. In our next The Hot Line column, well tell you how we used that data to help HRNets various stakeholders understand the nature of the elephant.