Woman holding a large five pointed leaf in front of her so that it covers her face

Why The Familiar Doesn’t Track You. (When Most Others Do)

| Martin Jewiss

Sixty Second Summary

A colleague recently had a tough time explaining, in an online chat, just why we decided not to install any tracking on our new website (www.thefamiliar.tech). The person he was talking to just could not get their head around our reasoning. So it seems useful to explain in more detail.

Full Article - 3 Minute Read

Our approach to the tracking question was guided by our philosophy for client consulting: Just because a solution is ubiquitous or worse still, considered “best practice”, it may not be appropriate for your particular situation.

Our analysis and conclusions were simple:

  1. We have higher priorities for our time
  2. We wanted fully comply with GDPR regulations
  3. We have alternative solutions if we need them
  4. We wanted a great customer experience

Our time is precious

We work hard for our clients, on internal projects and on our own business. When we considered effort and impact, it was clear we could spend our time in more valuable ways than in-depth analysis of analytics data. And if we are not using the data, there’s no point in gathering it.

We believe in the aims of GDPR

It’s right that people should have knowledge and control of their personal data. We choose to comply with the spirit of the law rather than decide “what we can get away with”.

GDPR compliance requires positive consent from every EU based visitor before running analytics or tracking. Yes, some have argued that a more relaxed approach will comply. But when you really look into it, unless a future legal case indicates otherwise, there’s not much of a grey zone around analytics and tracking.

So with prior agreement required, plus certain browsers blocking tracking by default, it’s inevitable that some - maybe most - visits would have not been recorded, leading to incomplete visitor data. With inaccurate data, it’s harder to draw valid conclusions and make good decisions about site improvements. Garbage in, garbage out, as the saying goes.

There are alternatives to javascript analytics

If we need simple, anonymous visitor stats, we can simply consult the server logs. They tell us the basics, such as visitor numbers and page popularity. Server logs are usually more accurate than javascript solutions such as Google Analytics. They are also anonymous and do not share data with third parties.

If we need to examine why part of our site is not working as intended or get guidance for improvements, we can run user tests. User testing shows very clearly which areas to focus on for greatest impact. Likewise we can test features, identify and correct problems before they are launched.

Anonymous A/B testing is another method we can use to help refine designs, content and features.

If we ever decide to run an advertising campaign, we can create specific landing pages and use links in adverts with unique query strings. These two methods will allow us to simply measure the effectiveness of adverts without installing tracking scripts.

We are a human-centred design and technology consultancy

We understand the business benefits of great customer experience and advocate its value to clients. We don’t have a valid reason to ask every new visitor for permission to set analytics, so why bother with the intrusion? We’ve improved the experience for our visitors and followed our own advice.

By not having tracking on thefamiliar.tech, we don’t have intrusive permission banners or the dreaded “EU Cookie Warning” that clutter other online experiences.

Clearly, our approach is not valid for every site on the web. In the same way as our client work focuses on delivering the greatest impact, whether that involves standard or innovative solutions, we believe this approach will work for us. And I think it could work for a surprising number of other sites, too.

Need help with a thorny problem?

Our remote facilitated applied design workshops will you answer your organisations biggest questions and problems. In 2 days to 2 weeks we can help you identify challenges, prototype and validate solutions. Get in touch for an obligation-free discussion.