It’s about the community.
Sure we have heard and seen this quote many times before in blog posts, twitter, podcasts, Jason Thompson, etc. It’s one of those easy things to say and then forget about it. I’ll donate to the latest charity drive, and participate in the Analysis Exchange, but surely there is something more we could be doing to help bring new people into this industry, to train them on the right way to do things. All the pieces are there numerous books from industry luminaries, the DAA Certification, the UBC online courses, the DAA code of ethics, but there is still something missing.
Look around this industry and there are no true junior people coming in. Web Analytics or Digital Measurement is not being taught in the vast majority of schools and any sort of implementation skills are not being taught anywhere. Most people who are in this industry of ours have backed into it through some other career path, and come to the party with many years of real world experience before getting their feet wet in the digital measurement pool. Where are the kids (sorry, but when I am double the age of most college students I get to say kids) coming out of college that are diving into this space? There are none, or they are as rare as Kryptonite. And panels on career development are common now at every conference it seems, so this problem is not going anywhere.
So you’ve made it this far into the post and you are saying “Ok. I agree, but what’s the point ?” I think we need something else. Something more like the amazing things going on over at Khan Academy. Something that is free and accessible to anyone. Once upon a time I created an intern training program that was pretty effective at taking a raw talent and giving them an overview of the digital measurement industry and while I can not replicate the whole thing here, I can provide the framework I put together. The first section I am going to share is the initial two week plan, if the feedback is good I’ll add more.
Note: By no means do I think this is the only approach, just one that I liked and seemed to work. By the end of the two weeks you should have a good idea if the intern is showing promise and should continue in the program. One of the aspects that I like to focus on is the actual presentations that are required of everyone each week. The faster they learn to build quick, solid presentations and the skills to deliver them effectively the easier it will be for them to present their data findings in the long term.
Intern Training Plan
Each intern should be provided with access to or copies of the following books. Prior to the start of the internship the intern should have completely read, Web Analytics an Hour a Day.
Also, each intern should be provided with a set of test websites and analytics accounts to practice on.
- Demonstrate basic understanding of Digital Measurement fundamentals.
- Ability to setup/configure basic web site audit
- Basic Documentation Skills
- Ability to develop / deploy basic implementations
- Google Analytics vanilla code
- Complete 1 analysis exchange project * Depending on project availability
- Day 1 : Ensure computer and materials access. Review objectives with interns
- Assignment to a mentor/buddy if possible:
- Schedule an initial meeting with mentor
- Schedule weekly 1×1’s with mentor
- Read Big Book Of KPI’s
- Read the WAA list of definitions
- Go through the GA Training materials that is instructor/mentor led
- Pass a test based on the 3 items above along with being able to get the vanilla Google analytics account set up and installed on a test web site.
- Prepare and deliver a 20 minute power point presentation on their first weeks work.
- Review of week 1 objectives
- Introduction into basic site audits and QA practices. Use of Charles, httpfox, other debugging tools.
- Perform basic site audit and prepare a sample ppt based on the audit results.
- Present Site audit findings to team.
- Prepare and deliver a 20 minute power point presentation on their second weeks work.
So….what do you think?
This IS about the community. What do you think of the first phase of this training plan to take kids right out of college and turn them into great junior resources for our digital measurement industry? What would you do differently?
6 thoughts on “Getting Started in Analytics”
This is my sentiment exactly towards analytics!
I came straight into the field by luck 3 years ago out of college. I wish I was better prepped and even aware of such a field during my undergrad years since analytics is a very fun field to work in.
I would love to help on this endeavor and provide my own insights as a relatively recent grad. I have been pushing for more fresh grads to get into it and it is tough without some knowledge.
Thanks for the comments. I would love your help and input on this. As we get further along I’ll email you and get this going.
Having been on the other side of this post, I’ll see if I can’t come up with a more detailed response over the weekend. I do want to stress the importance of exploring live traffic as soon as possible in the training process. Something not explicitly on your list is ethics and legal compliance training – both of which have become more important over the last few years, and perhaps deserve more emphasis.
I wish the community in general stressed the “why?” of analytics more than the how. The “why” makes analytics exciting, the actual technologies and techniques used are interesting, but not especially so compared to other fields. We need a video that can explain analytics in 5 minutes to an intelligent layperson, and infuse an excitement into that person.
There needs to be a hook – the students capable of entering analytics are also capable of entering just about any other field, because analytics is so amazingly multi-disciplinary.
The hook? How about a paying job for folks coming out of college or trying to get into the industry? There is a HUGE difference between being capable to do many jobs and there being jobs for folks to get.
First quick thought? This is a good exercise for many already in the field to go through. I’ve known a number of people who have been in this field for 2-5 years, and still wouldn’t know how to do a basic Google implementation or site audit.
What I like is that you cover more than just looking at and interpreting numbers. While that is certainly a key function, proper documentation is critical for long term success, and I have a personal pet-peeve of wishing more of us understood how the gathering of the data works (implementation). To me there are two big benefits benefits of having a basic understanding of implementation: 1. Knowing where and how the data was gathered gets you closer to the functional aspect of the site you are analyzing, thereby prompting you to look at the interactions and flow of the site better. 2. Once you start to see how things are measured, you will better understand what else could potentially be measured, leading you to ask more and better questions.
When you discuss QA, please emphasize it is much more than just following the basic test script and only doing what you are “supposed” to do. Good QA is following the script, then doing things the “wrong” way, then trying to break it. Customers have this weird little thing called their own minds, and have an annoying habit of not doing things just the way we want them to. Finding out these not-by-the-book errors ahead of time saves you a tremendous amount of pain and tears later on.
Thoughts for weeks 3+:
– Excel exercises – especially Pivot Tables and advanced lookup formulas.
– Basic tagging plan which includes page data as well as user interactions. This should include the purpose and reasoning for each data point.
— Later on, a plan for how different data points can be used in conjunction to find deeper insights.
– Discuss the real purpose of an analytic presentation – it’s about conveying ideas or a story, not about showing data and pretty charts.
— Presentation of analytics using as little data points and charts as possible
“1. Knowing where and how the data was gathered gets you closer to the functional aspect of the site you are analyzing, thereby prompting you to look at the interactions and flow of the site better. 2. Once you start to see how things are measured, you will better understand what else could potentially be measured, leading you to ask more and better questions.” — I could not agree more with these points.
I like the plans for week 3 & beyond. I’ll work through those and pull those into the next post!
Thanks for the comments.