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Getting digital terminology right

Written by Ryan | 24-Jul-2009 15:51:08

It is always a key part of communication with Clients to ensure that the use of digital terminology is straightforward and correct. Maybe it is the rigour of ensuring this in a day to day working environment that leads me to spot the incorrect use of terms in the national media so often. The most common of all confusion being the use of the term "hits".

From the BBC website today, regarding the volume of traffic arriving at the National Swine Flu website:

Now I can't be 100% sure, but I fairly confident that the BBC, or the Government, don't really mean "hits". It is arguable, but generally accepted, that a hit is counted when any /wp-content/uploads/file is served on a web page. If a page contains several components (images, /wp-content/uploads/files, frames) then a single page load could lead to many "hits". I am quite sure that the BBC/Government mean that the site was receiving 2,600 visits per second - so why not say so? Surely the use of the term "visit" is clearer to the general public anyway?

Further to this, from what we can see the National Swine Flu website has no web analytics installed, so the stats for performance must be coming from server web logs. The reliability of this data therefore gets more and more questionable. The public and media may be crying out for information, but surely it should only be released if it is reliable?

Pedantic it may be to question the use of terminolgy in this way, but this is driven by the habit of removing ambiguity of terminology from Client communication. If we were to agree with a Client that an acceptable website performance benchmark was 100,000 hits per month, I think we'd be quite keen to clearly understand what their understanding of a "hit" really is….