Website Traffic is Not Website Performance
The title of this one might be a bit counterintuitive. After all, website traffic
is a key part of website performance, isn't it? The one drives the other; you can't have a well-performing website without traffic.
Largely, this depends on what your website is for. The two correlate strongly, but they are not the same thing, and here are a few reasons why.
If your website is a business blog intended to promote ideas about your venture and focus on the strengths of your innovations, then traffic is a good metric of site performance, particularly if the blog is ad-supported. On the other hand, if your site is a sales site that only sees 10 percent of traffic that comes through make an actual purchase, then it is pretty clear that the site is not performing in proportion to its traffic.
So, while website traffic makes for a useful shorthand in determining the popularity of a site, it is not the end-all.
Instead, metrics of website performance should focus on the site's goals. If the goals are sales, then traffic is only a portion of the equation. Take our aforementioned 10 percent situation. What exactly is preventing conversion of the other 90 percent of visitors into customers? Is it a problem with the site? Is navigating too difficult, or are the prices too high? In this case, traffic is only part of a complex analytic process. Indeed, the 10 percent figure might not be a problem at all, if those 10 percent are high-paying clients whose purchases consistently provide a profit for the site.
So it is fine to begin from website traffic in order to build a set of proper metrics. However, it should only be the first step on the road to analyzing the entire picture, rather than the endgame focus of a venture. The picture is always more complicated than a popularity contest, and realizing this is the first key to understanding website performance properly.