Zeno's paradox - or why your website will never be right!

Child on a tortoise

Stop worrying. Your website will never be right!

5th century BC Greek philosopher, Zeno of Elea, knew that all along.

The lesson is in his famous paradox of "Achilles and the Tortoise".

The ancient paradox

Achilles is in a footrace with a tortoise.

Being a good sport, Achilles gives the tortoise a head start of 100 metres at point A.

"Go!" shouts Zeno and off dashes Achilles. He soon reaches point A.

But, uh-oh, the tortoise has already moved on to point B. On rushes Achilles.

But again, when he arrives at point B, the tortoise has moved to point C.

When Achilles gets to point C, the tortoise is now at point D.

And on it goes.

Whenever Achilles arrives at a point the tortoise has been, it has already gone.

In short, he never catches up.

(In reality, Achilles would catch the tortoise, but as a thought experiment it is still intriguing and useful.)

The digital paradox

Now, let's update the paradox.

Substitute yourself (as a digital manager) for Achilles.

Substitute your users for the tortoise.

The point is that, no matter how hard you try, you will NEVER catch up with your users.

They will ALWAYS be some distance ahead of you—and probably a lot further than the tortoise from Achilles!

The reason is that every website is really just an educated guess.

You can never know your users' needs with 100% accuracy. There will always be a gap.

You only find out how big the gap is after you launch and begin to track engagement.

Any issues you find then need time to be fixed, which creates a window for user needs to change even further.

So, stop fretting.

Your website will never be right :)

All you can do is narrow the gap as best you can.

Analysis spreadsheet for Content Groups from Google Analytics


I bet you want to know what content your website users are most interested in. Right?

Of course, you do. Me too.

If your situation is anything like mine, you likely have very little time to spend on useful things—like making your content easier to find, read and understand. So, when you do get this time, you want to make sure you're prioritising the right content.

Not the stuff no-one really cares about.

Excel icon

Content Groups analysis spreadsheet (XLS 100KB)

Use this spreadsheet to identify the Content Topics that users of your website are most interested in. Watch the video above for set-up and usage instructions.

But, here's the problem.

Not only are you likely to have vast amounts of content on your site to track as it is—I bet more and more is being added all the time.

And more and more.
And more and more and more.
And more and more and more and more.
And more and more and more and more and more.
And more and more and more and more and more and more ... you know what I mean!

So, volumes are unmanageably high and, yes, I mean "unmanageably". There are very few web teams that could—hand on heart—say they are "managing" their content. We're not managing. We're coping!

So, not only that...the basic metric of content engagement—Views per page—is at best highly suspect for tracking user interests across an entire site. At worst it's misleading and often meaningless.

Read the full article "How to analyse data from Content Groups in Google Analytics using Excel".