Web developers not only need to understand their customers or the executive teams of their clients, but they also need to understand consumers and the data consumers respond to, according to the keynote at the Predictive Analytics conference this morning in New York City.

The Web analytics team is often thought of as separate from the Web development team, but Joe Megibow, vice president and general manager of Expedia’s USA operations and a former software developer, said software drives business today, so developers also need to understand analytics in order for a company to be successful overall.

Joe Megibow

Megibow’s “analytics narrative” was the first day’s main event, following a quick presentation by John Lovett, vice president of the Web Analytics Association. Lovett claimed all Web analytics professionals are “weirdos,” and that in order to be successful, you need to understand how other “weirdos” work and consume data, products, and websites.

“The normal is not normal anymore; we’re all becoming more and more weird,” he said. “We speak in these languages of metrics, dimensions and eMetrics. We’re gaining momentum. We need to be together.”

Megibow has learned several lessons about working together with other “weirdos” through his career path: first with a company now known as Tealeaf, through his tenure at Hotels.com, and now at Expedia.com. His rules apply to marketing professionals and developers because in today’s Web-centric world, both need to work together in order to sell products and ideas.

The tools, Megibow said, are not what ultimately make companies successful, it’s how companies understand how consumers use the tools that increase their success. This can help developers in the requirements phase, because, as Megibow said, “Know your customer; your customer is not you.”

Additionally, he said being honest and transparent is just as important as extracting good data. Without transparency, larger issues in a site or software program can often be overlooked, and what could possibly look like a failure to retain clients could actually be a software issue, or a need for more servers to handle the traffic to a website. This is why it is important for all members of a team to understand the analytics produced internally and externally by customers and other vendors.

He added that Web analytics teams also need to understand that it is not just about the “clicks” you get, it’s more about the intent behind those clicks. The intent will show the data you need to share with your team, and in order to help your team understand the data, you need to turn this data into actionable items in order to create successful action plans.