Ev Williams on Metrics

Ev Williams, CEO of Medium (and co-founder of Twitter) recently wrote a post explaining his reaction to Instagram being “bigger” than Twitter. He shares some good insight on figuring out the right metrics to see if you’re achieving your goals:

If what you care about — or are trying to report on — is impact on the world, it all gets very slippery. You’re not measuring a rectangle, you’re measuring an multi-dimensional space. You have to accept that things are very imperfectly measured and just try to learn as much as you can from multiple metrics and anecdotes.

Numbers are important. Number of users is important. So are lots of other things. Different services create value in different ways. Trust your gut as much (or more) than the numbers. Figure out what matters and build something good.

I’ve been meaning to write about data for a while, especially in regards to how it impacts design. In short, data is an incredibly valuable tool to determine how successful you are in achieving a particular goal, but it’s just that, a data point. Getting more data points gives you a better picture, but some things aren’t mesurable. How do you measure the delight of a user when he first uses your product? How do you mesure experience? You can’t. You just have to trust your gut.