Thoughts on Systems

Emil Sit

Apr 2, 2006 - 3 minute read - Hacking analytics usability

Design priorities for performancing.com

I came across Performancing while browsing the various winners of the Web 2.0 awards: they are ranked second in Web Development and Design. Their description sounded interesting for a new blogger like myself so I paid them a visit. I was surprised at how hard it was to find out about Performancing’s goals and products. Inspired perhaps by Jakob Nielsen’s recent Alertbox about basic design priorities, I thought I would do a little usability analysis of Performancing’s site.

On my 1024x768 display, the Performancing homepage looks like this: Performancing Frontpage A few things stand out:

  • They offer a free service called Performancing Metrics that provides real time statistics aimed at blogs.
  • You can login.
  • There appears to be a Slashdot like news section.
  • There is a link to a plugin for Firefox.
  • There are no visible links to more information like About, FAQ, or contact; those require scrolling to find.

From what’s there, I infer that the primary goal of this company is to help bloggers succeed by providing them with metrics. Yet, it is surprisingly difficult to get more information about their Metrics product. The only thing you can really get to from the front page is their sign up page, which wastes over half of their screen real-estate on showing you the ad that you just clicked on.

Performancing Login

Wouldn’t it help to link directly to the Metrics start page? Unfortunately, the most expedient way to that page is to scroll down to the 6th sidebar box for Search, enter “metrics” and then follow the first hit from the results page.

Even after I found this page, I don’t really have a feel for exactly what their system looks like. The Guided Tour requires a separate click to go to each of five short pages with screenshot fragments. There’s no live demo. It’s unlikely they thought about the design of their blank slate.

Contrast this to the third place entry, Mint. Mint is a similar looking service for performing web site statistics analysis. However, their front page contains on a single page the same level of detail that requires a search and multiple clicks to find from the Performancing home page. Mint even offers a link on the left sidebar to jump to a demo of Mint. (Well, it’s not a direct link like HipCal, but better than nothing.)

It sounds like Metrics is pretty successful (> 10000 users) despite the difficulty in finding information. I wonder how well they’d be doing if they improved their website or even just clarified their tagline. For now, it’s not so much their website that keeps me away, but my lack of traffic to analyze; Awstats more than satisfies my curiosity about my visitors. Perhaps one day, I’ll need something more advanced. That might be nice.