23 February 2021
Where data was once used only to measure performance, revenue goals and conversion rates, today, companies with solid historical data can also use it as input for content creation. Daniel de Vos, Manager Data & Analytics at Artefact Netherlands explains how.

Increasing internet penetration, more plentiful and diverse connected devices, and cheaper and more accessible data storage are all contributing to an increased volume of user interaction data. Data is not just for nerds anymore; it has become crucial for many organisations. Prior to the current data explosion, digital products were primarily built using creative intuition. But where data was once used only to measure performance, revenue goals and conversion rates, today, companies with solid historical data can also use it as input for content creation.

In fact, content creation has become increasingly important for growing businesses. So much so, we believe it should be a top priority for management as it’s fundamental to today’s business success.

Don’t use data blindly: keep it human

To gain a competitive advantage, content can be used to optimise keyword ranking in search engines. By using the right keywords, phrases and images on landing pages, companies can rank higher in search engine result pages (SERPs). Search engines pick up these signals and rank your website higher. And better relevancy for users increases engagement and conversions.

“We need to move away from data-driven design to data-informed design”

In this era of data overload, every bit of creative content receives immediate feedback directly from the market and users. Back in the day, it took months before the effects of a creation became apparent. Today, data can be used to prevent bad design decisions and as leverage in internal discussions (win that discussion with your boss!).

Although data is essential, the designer should drive the design, not the data. By following data blindly, great design can be stifled – or even lead to a fragmented user experience mess.

Data should be an aid in making design decisions. It can help you focus on what really matters and what really needs to be improved. It can inform strategy when UX designers interpret data to make intelligent decisions (but not simply blindly do what the data tells them to do).

At Artefact, we believe that data-informed, not data-driven, content creation is the way to go. Data should be a way of helping and informing the creative process. The human brain is what distinguishes your creation from that of your competitors.

Provide context as a Data Analyst

As a data analyst, it’s important to provide designers with actionable data so they can use it to unleash their creativity. The first step is to provide user-centric information through explicit and implicit data. Explicit data is data that a user shares for the purpose of customising an experience, e.g. liking a video or rating a movie. Explicit data reveals something about the user’s preferences. This is the easiest information for a designer to understand and to act on.

Implicit data is more complicated, as it is behavioural data and doesn’t express concrete information. This is, however, the information businesses usually want. Implicit or unintended data (e.g. data left behind when a user navigates on a form and drops off) carries meaning and displays a relationship between interactions and elements. This type of data determines if a design will succeed or not.

The next step is to determine how data can be meaningfully used by a designer. Data needs to be leveraged for concrete use cases in order to improve the user experience. It is important to solve critical pain points and anticipate user intent following the user journey. A good data analyst can show the designer where to put the right content at the right time via a clear, contextual and actionable briefing.

Lastly, for this process to run efficiently, it’s important to create a perfect, measurable feedback loop. It should be iterative, in order to learn from experiments and start over and over based on new data insights. A designer should understand that nobody can deliver the holy grail the first time. To achieve a close-to-perfect feedback loop, the process should include the following elements: research as the foundation; translation to contextual and actionable data; continuous trial and error.

Yin-Yang

When using data to inform the creative process, it’s vital to find a perfect balance. An experienced designer knows when to be creative and when to validate a “gut feeling” by using appropriate methods of data collection. There’s no one ideal way of working or precise stage in the creative process where it’s right to use data or where it’s better to go with your gut. It’s all about finding the right context, being user-centric, and most importantly, distinguishing your content from that of your competitors.

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