Digital-Telepathy is a UX design studio in sunny San Diego, CA. The company is committed to the perpetual betterment of the Web by creating websites and products that improve users’ experiences and deliver results. We had the chance to interview Jason Amunwa, Director of Products and Jamie Hamel-Smith, Senior Developer at Digital-Telepathy, who explained the value of having a data driven approach for design development and how celebrating small wins can build a culture of continued improvement.

Below are some excerpts from our conversation:

What is Digital-Telepathy?

Jason: We’re in San Diego, California. We are a user experience design studio and essentially, we have a bunch of different activities that we do but they are all geared around making the web better for the people to use. That’s really our simple mission. We have a services division where it’s a traditional kind of agency- client partnerships. We also have a products division which myself and Jaime are a part of. We create products based on our experiences with clients to help make the web better for everybody. We also have a publishing division where we are sharing the knowledge of the experiences that we gain from the other two places. There are three parts and they all work together.

How do you use Geckoboard?

Jamie: Mainly it’s for internal operations. We use a lot of different analytics tools, so we’re constantly watching data from lots of different sources. It takes a lot of time running around for us to find numbers individually or locking in separate app platforms, so tying them altogether in one visual screen or in one visual representation saves us a lot of time and gives us almost a six sense as to the heartbeat of the company. We have several screens displaying Geckoboard in the office.

Has Geckoboard made an impact on your operations or culture at all?

Jason: I would say absolutely, yeah. I think it created a culture of curiosity about data. Our approach is very much what we want to see the results of the design that we’re doing. We want to know absolutely what we’ve done is making things better. It’s not just making things prettier. The truth of that lies in the data so what Geckoboard have done for us is facilitated the type of conversations that are revolving around getting results.

Jamie: Being able to measure the data isn’t of much use unless everyone can see those measurements. If only one or two people are seeing this data, I feel that it’s less useful than if the whole team gets to see it. I think that’s what it’s helped us facilitate.

Jason: We’re in a tough industry. The tech world is full of challenges and it moves forward very quickly so it’s really important to celebrate the wins. When you can point to a board and say we did this today. We hit a certain revenue milestone or we have a record-breaking amount of traffic on our site right on this instant because what you guys did. That’s really important for us as a team because we work very closely together and we celebrate the work that each other does as well and the Geckoboard facilitates that as well.

What advice would you pass on to other agencies and organizations that are trying to become data driven - what should be their first steps?

Jason: I think visibility is pretty important. As a first step I would say put it somewhere where everyone can see it because I think just having the numbers out there changes the types of conversations that your employees have with each other as well as when they are reporting to supervisors or management. Having those numbers to have at all times just changes the conversations you have.

Jamie: The most amazing thing to me is how it actually changed the quality of work. If you do a promotion and there is a special coupon code or there is an email that goes out and then everyone gets to see just how impactful that promotion was. They see the numbers spike. They see the number of new visits. Everyone can see that. Even if you just glance at it for five seconds before walking out the door to get some lunch. Just seeing that can really change the way a designer or a developer use their own board, And that’s contagious.

Jason: You’re not sending work out into the ether and not seeing it again or hearing about it again. It closes the loop. You see that the design that a designer has created and handed off to Jaime, that Jaime developed, has contributed to an extra percent spike in revenue this week. That’s a huge win. Not just for our morale, but it teaches us that the approach that I had in this design and the way that Jamie developed it so it was quick and responsive is a good practice. Like we had a win after  this so we should apply it to future work as well. It’s overall beneficial. It doesn’t to hurt to share data. It also speeds up the agility or improves the agility of companies because if we see the conversion rate for today is about half of what it should be, we can drop everything and say, “OK well why is the conversion rate down today? What is going on? Have we lost traffic? Is there something broken?” It gives you that spot to investigate as opposed to finding out maybe two weeks later. Everybody is able to make powerful and informed decisions much more quickly.

Would you say that being data driven is a competitive advantage?

Jason: It’s funny. I think the traditional [motto] of the agency is that you get clients on retainer, and then you start pumping out the work. We actually have a slight difference in the way we position ourselves. It’s actually a subscription that we ask people to subscribe on a monthly basis or ask clients to subscribe on a monthly basis. We are data- driven, so at the end of the month we can say OK. These are the results we got from this month’s worth of work. It’s a pretty powerful to be able to turn around and say look. You should continue to work with us, because these metrics are things that we managed to improve. It helps our clients see the value of taking design seriously. Data is really important to be able to objectively show that and not just be like, “Yeah, we redesigned your homepage. We did this. We did that.” It’s like, “We improved your sign-up rate by X% this month and we increased your yield by Y% this month because of the designs that we pushed out.”

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