Chapter 6. A Hybrid Approach

Data needs stories, but stories also need data.

Om Malik

Data insights are typically the result of combining sources and methods, but the difficult part can be just getting started. Outlined here is a process that is flexible enough to work in different situations. I’ll walk through the process using a familiar example: looking at short videos on a corporate site.

Step 1: Frame the Question

Even though there is no shortage of data, it’s essential to begin with a question rather than just pour over numbers or play with visualizations, hoping that insight will strike. Before diving too deeply into existing data from analytics—and definitely before framing a new study—the first step is defining the problem.

Understand Assumptions and Biases

Begin with what you think you already know. You need to examine the givens first. This might be a big-picture assumption. For example, a strategic assumption might be that people want to watch a video as a way to learn about an organization. A tactical assumption might be that people understand the word video to mean a short video clip rather than a long-form narrative.

Next, move on to the gaps, the things that you know you don’t know. Maybe you don’t have a clear sense of how another site or application is setting people’s expectations—whether it’s a close competitor or not. Maybe you don’t know how ease-of-use relates to future desirable behaviors such as returning or sharing. There are many unknowns, but keeping ...

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