Numbers tell you everything… except everything too complicated to be expressed in 1s and 0s

 

 
There was no market, no demand and no infrastructure. Perhaps it was all nuts. We had to get a reality check. Talk to real people. Get some feedback. Get some reaction.
— Michael Aldrich on deciding to test online shopping at the Data Entry Management Association Conference in September 1979 (3)
 

 

Numbers don’t show you things like emotions. Like why people do the things they do. Or why the data is the way it is and how to change it.

When Michael Aldrich invented online shopping, here’s what data would’ve told him:

  • Chicken cost 222 cents per pound and pork cost 156 cents per pound
  • 100% of people who shop, do so in a physical store
  • 0% of people shop online

Data only showed him how people behaved, not how he could change their behaviour. So, he did the only reasonable thing that could be expected of someone trying to influence human behaviour – he watched how people behave. He ran user experience tests.

He took his invention to the Data Entry Management Association Conference in September 1979 and asked people to try it out. He learned how to refine his invention based on what they wanted.