3 Reasons to Unify Your Data Before Your Next Site Redesign

I’m a fan of data. And my favorite kind of data is clean and well-organized. And you’re going to need well-organized data before you begin your next project. It’s kind of like cleaning up your desk or tidying up your house. It’s just what needs to be done before the next project can begin. And your next project is the website re-design.

Assume your website will be around for a long time. Consider doing it right once and for all by building something that will last. Here are my top three reasons to unify (or clean up) your data before your next site redesign.

1) One Version of the Truth

I remember hearing this “single version of the truth” phrase often in my relational database days.  Is this something you hear around your office? The same thing you strive for with data stored internally should also apply to your tag vendors outside of your internal firewall.  You will have data that is shared across vendors.  (i.e. Both your Chat provider and your Analytics tools want to track what was purchased on the order confirmation page.)  If everyone gets the data from the same place then your data values will be uniform. In fact, a universal data tag is really your only option for uniform data.

A sample data object showing data that will be shared:
var my_page_data = {
product_name : 'blue widget XXL',
product_id : 'item12345',
product_quantity : '3'
}

2) Easy on the Eyes

Lots of poorly-named JavaScript variables can cause a headache.  And website tag vendors don’t make this easy.  No analytics vender will use “site_section”.   They might have you set “s.prop3” to site section or set variable “CF12” to site section.  But an implementor or contractor looking at the code is not likely to know that the value in s.prop3 is site section.  Which means they’ll need a secondary look-up spreadsheet.  And they’ll probably not have the latest version of this spreadsheet.  Which means they’ll probably implement the new tag vendor incorrectly.  This reminds me of a children’s book If You Take a Mouse to the Movies.

var my_page_data = {
site_section : 'energy efficient products',
site_sub_section : 'blue widgets'
}

3) Stand the Test of Time

I probably should have listed this as #1.  Most enterprises rebuild their website at least once a year.  If your site is changing then you’re likely to break things.  That is why you budget extra hours for QA.  Save the time and money by unifying your data now. You’ll be glad you did before for next year’s redesign.  If you change your HTML and the product can no longer be “scraped from the DOM” from a <span> item where “id=productField” then your custom code breaks.  Instead, make the decision now to prepare for your next site redesign and keep the data in a container that will not depend on your last HTML layout template.

I’ll stop with just these three reasons, but there might be a list of 10 reasons.  I’m pretty sure I could make the Yahoo home page with the article, “Top 10 Reasons to Unify Your Data Before Your Next Site Redesign.” :-)

And with that said, Mike – tag you’re it.

Recent Posts