Archive for May, 2012

We’re asked about our design all the time – usually in an incredibly kind way full of high fives and “how’d you do that?!”s but sometimes in a “ugh, did you even think about talking to a customer??” kind of way. So, we decided to give you a week-long deep dive into our design process in this “Designing Data” series. Stay tuned every day this week for a next step in our design process – and let us know what you think about every one of them.

Design is pretty important to us.

We have one job: Taking a crazy amount of data and turning it into something meaningful, so people on the front-line – people who don’t always have time for numbers – know exactly what to do and when to do it.

Without good design that’s just not possible. If it takes them 10 minutes to figure out what the numbers stacked in front of them mean, let alone what they should do with them, that data might as well not exist.

But it’s not just about pretty. Design is way more than the visual. Design is a process of understanding. Where do people want to be and how can we make it stupid easy for them to get there?

When we say design we mean everything: from the look of things when your traffic spikes to why you want to know that in the first place. Design is a holistic process that’s about people and solving their problems – and making it beautiful while we’re at it.

So we start, unsurprisingly, by talking to these people, watching these people. We don’t lock ourselves in a room and run through scenario after scenario with fictional, ideal users and refrain from putting anything out there until it’s completely finished. We actually get out there and find out what kind of problems people are facing and solve those first.

But we don’t stop there. After we’ve got a solid idea and confirmed that it works with a handful of our users we do something that’s a little bit riskier…

We iterate in public.

We put out stuff that isn’t done, and sometimes we’re not even totally confident in it. Because we – and our early testers – don’t have all the answers.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Tomorrow, we’ll get into the nitty-gritty of the user research portion of the design process and explain all of this launch-into-the-wild stuff later this week.

Today, we had the most fun, rewarding, inspiring day at the Chartbase in…well…maybe ever.

We invited five young ladies from The Young Women’s Leadership School of Astoria to join us for a job shadowing day that the school runs for their sophomores.

TYWLS of Astora, Chartbeat (and G-raph), Tumblr and Betaworks crews

To be totally candid, we had no idea what to expect : Would they be used to using the internet? Would they have Facebook pages? Did they understand what a startup was? Had they taken HTML classes or surprise us by being JavaScript geniuses? Hell, they could be Chartbeat customers already for all we knew.

Because that’s the problem with technology in schools right now. It varies so much. And while the tech sector continues to blow up in NYC and all over the country/world….we’re not teaching it (at least not consistently) anywhere. Which completely blows my mind.

The Young Women’s Leadership Schools are doing an amazing job, actually. We learned that these gals had classes on social media available to them and a bunch of them had Tumblr blogs of their own. But still none of these girls knew what coding was. So we started there with our day.

We decided to walk them through some of the basics of what it takes to build a startup:

  1. Identify a problem
  2. Know your audience
  3. Have a simple idea
  4. Work with smart people to build a solution
  5. Market that solution
  6. Learn from your users and iterate

Not only did they get it, but they built their own start up! A project called StudentConnect that would be a website and app that is a student’s best friend – sharing everything from what’s for lunch in the cafeteria that day (complete with real pics of those Sloppy Joes) and real-time communicating snow days to giving your friends a heads up on that 3rd period pop quiz and a calendar of homework and upcoming after-school activities.

By the end of the day, these little ladies learned a lot of things. But the one comment that brought a tear to our eye “Before I came in here, I didn’t even know what coding was, now I want to learn it today. This was awesome.”

So, internet community, we’ve created a Tumblr of ways they (and everyone) can get started:

We’re asking you to submit other startups, apps, blogs, ideas that we can add to this page and constantly keep it growing, so the next generation has no choice but to beat us at our own game. And we’ll like it.

Tony chatted with Sarah Marshall of about the role of analytics in the newsroom.

They talked about everything from uncovering hidden interest points in lesser-known players during the NFL draft and Glenn Beck using online audience interests to inform his radio and TV content to the fear of the “tyranny of the popular” in the newsroom and how being great journalist is just like being a great parent.

Have a listen to it all, and let us know how you think data has impacted how you create and consume the news.

What’s a cookie and how does Chartbeat use them?
Most data providers track certain visitor behavior by using cookies. Cookies can tell things like the difference between a new and returning visitor. That way you can deliver content that makes sense for them.

That return-state of a visitor is the one and only way Chartbeat uses cookies, never for any kind of personally identifiable information collecting or monitoring. You can read all about how we pull data in our technical docs.

How does the EU Cookie Legislation affect Chartbeat?
Recently, the EU passed legislation governing how websites can collect and use these cookies (as well as similar visitor tracking techniques like HTML5 LocalStorage). This law discusses website visitors’ options regarding the cookies set on their browser.

While each country in the EU has yet to finalize how and when they’re putting the law into effect, the UK has done so already.

Lots of our client partners are in the UK, so we’ve made this transition an easy one for you guys. We’ve already updated our JavaScript to work without setting cookies.

Here’s how to do it. Within your Chartbeat JavaScript, just set an option in your configuration to disable cookies:

With noCookies set, the Chartbeat cookie (_chartbeat2) will never be created.

How does this change affect what I’ll see in my dashboard?
As we mentioned, Chartbeat currently only uses cookies to track if a user is new or returning. So, when you set noCookies to true, Chartbeat will not be able to tell if a user is new or returning. In the future, other metrics may depend on the presence of the cookie, but we’ll keep you posted on anything that does.

Depending on your implementation, you may have some visitors allow cookies and some not. If that’s the case, Chartbeat would report new and returning values for only the visitors who have allowed cookies.

As always, if you have any questions hit up our Chartcorps on Twitter or via email.

The world outside your website is tough to manage. You have die-hard fans extolling you in 140 characters. You have newbies who aren’t quite your target stumbling upon you via, er, StumbleUpon. And your regular guys constantly checking up on you through their iPhone apps.

For a long time people have looked at the social audience, in particular, as its own discrete segment living in a vacuum to be treated totally differently from the rest of your audience. But really, they affect your site traffic and engage with your content like everyone else, don’t they? Shouldn’t you know just how much they’re affecting your site? We sure think so.

So within the new Social View on your Chartbeat dashboard, you’ll see the whole world of your social visitors. There’s a ton of easy-to-digest information about what’s going on with your site as seen through the social web.

In a single view, you can see what people are saying about you, how many of your current visitors came from social channels, and what pages are powerhouses on social networks.

Social traffic can make the difference between an ordinary day and an extraordinary day. It’s important that you can now dig through that list of your most social pages and figure out what makes them different, so you can get the same kind of oomph out of the rest of your pages.

If you see a big spike in traffic at the same time as you’re blowing up on Twitter, embrace it – see what people are saying, engage in conversation, retweet. People want to interact with you – make it easy for them to know there’s a real person behind all that HTML…

…and behind all that iOS code.

Your iPhone and iPad app is kind of like an entirely different site. It reaches a potentially totally new audience for you. It’s important to track the differences between your site and your apps.

So, we’re beta testing an iOS app tracking feature, too. If you have an iPhone or iPad app, install away through your dashboard sites page and let us know what you think. (Remember: the key word is “beta,” so we’re looking for your feedback and understanding that it’s not done yet).

And don’t forget to sign up for the Chartcorps virtual workshop to get a more in-depth look at social, iOS tracking and everything in between.