How Analysis Goes Wrong: The Week in Awful Analysis – Week #4

How Analysis goes wrong is a new weekly series focused on evaluating common forms of business analysis. All evaluation of the analysis is done with one goal in mind: Does the analysis present a solid case why spending resources in the manner recommended will generate additional revenue than any other action the company could take with the same resources. The goal here is not to knock down analytics, it is help highlight those that are unknowingly damaging the credibility of the rational use of data. What you don’t do is often more important then what you do choose to do. All names and figures have been altered where appropriate to mask the “guilt”.

For this weeks How Analysis Goes Wrong, I will be tackling directly a suggestion made on one of the more “popular” testing websites in the space. I will not be touching on everything that is wrong with the actual evaluation, as my problems with WhichTestWon are long stated and it is just too easy to poke holes in. Needless to say, we have no idea if the test was called by the correct use of data and not just blindly following confidence, nor do we know about other feasible alternatives, how big the scale of impact relates to other tests for that organization, or even what the population and time frame of the test was. Without any of that information, the entire practice is purely ego fulfillment and provides no functional information viable to a company.

In this case, you can find the example here. The specific comment in question is the 5th one listed by an Igor. I understand the trollish nature of all online comments, but because this seems to be presented as straight faced as possible, I have no choice but to evaluate it as if it was designed to be legitimate meaningful analysis. The comment in question is:

“I also picked green mostly because it created a sense of appetite. Blue was a bit too disconnected, didnt cause any emotional response even though I also use a blue button on my ecommerce site. I guess I’ll have to change it 🙂

Based solely on my experience, I’d say here it wasnt a question of CTA visibility (since they tested orange too) but the green color’s ability to initiate an emotional response of freshness, airiness, freedom. Orange would cause an emotion of warm, a bit heavy sensation and overly stimulating.

Considering that we’re bombarded with heavy colors in supermarkets, we may be looking for a way to feel less forced to make a decision online, and green seems to be the color of choice…especially this particular shade of green.”

Understand that I am in no way diving into my beliefs into color theory. I am honestly agnostic about its validity, as it is important that what wins is not biased by prior beliefs. We are only looking into the value of the “analysis” presented as it pertains to acting on the results from this specific test. Because of the sheer scope of problems here, I am going to only highlight the top ones.

1) He assumes something that works on another site will work on his.

2) He assumes why it changed from a single data point

3) He starts a massive non sequitur time sink about the supermarket colors and the “forced” decision online.

4) He reads in that it was green as a whole and not the specific shade or just the execution of colors. I am trying to ignore the entire, it is only two colors, you can’t tell anything about if this was the best use of resources at all problem, but even ignoring that, it is a single data point.

5) He assumes the change had anything to do with an emotional response and not the millions of other possible explanations

6) The entire test measured conversion rate, not revenue, meaning that all conclusions could be drawn to something that loses revenue for the company. You can never assume more conversions means more revenue, or the linear relation between any two objects.

7) He ignores almost completely interaction between other elements.

With the large amount of storytelling and absolutely nothing presented that adds value to the conversation, the entire purpose of exchanges like this is to make it sound like you are an expert on something without presenting credible evidence to the value of that claim. If you are right, then a test will show your choice is best amongst all feasible alternatives. If you are wrong, then who cares what you think. In all cases, storytelling belongs in kindergarten and not in the business world.

Sadly, that is not the end of it. The follow-up comment shows why so much of the business world are people who exist solely for the propagation of people just like them:

Thanks for the insights Igor, I’m a huge fan of color theory and how it impacts us psychologically. Glad someone brought this up!

We have just seen the propagation of agendas in action. No one added anything to the conversation, no one presented anything resembling rational data, nor did they present anything that could possibly be used to rationally make a better decision in the future, but both feel justified that this is the value they present to a conversation. The only nice part of this is that people like this have made my job, turning organizations around and showing them how to get magnitudes higher outcome based on just betting against people, so easy. Without them, I too wouldn’t have a job. We are all connected on some level…

If there is an analysis that you would like to have reviewed, privately or publicly, you can send an email direct at


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