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Paul Hickey - Data Driven Design And The Art Of Opinion Free Decision Making

icon-calendar 2021-03-10 | icon-microphone 1h 13m 36s Listening Time | icon-user Debutify CORP
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Paul Hickey tells a story that we all to hear about the critical need for data to aid you in optimal decision-making and development of your business. Data is no stranger to the show, but this is the first time to my recollection, we hear a story about what could happen if it's ignored. Data-driven design is the result of this. And as a milestone in a long running theme on the show about the importance of accumulated knowledge, we also touch on another piece of the e-commerce puzzle, voice recognition software, along the lines of Alexa. It could be a key asset to your business. So listen up. 

Paul Hickey, is the CEO and Lead Developer of Data Driven Design. His sweet spot is using analytics to design and build websites and grow the audience and revenue of businesses. He recently founded The Voice Designer, The Voice Event, the Nashville Voice Conference, which focuses on introducing opportunities for all businesses to increase efficiency, effectiveness and relevancy.

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DISCLAIMER: Any advice I give is solely based on my own experience and research. There is no guarantee as there are many variables that will impact your success. Everything stated should be taken as opinion.

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Paul Hickey: [00:00:00] You do have to inherently trust the Google analytics data is going to be accurate just based on Google itself, sort of dominating the internet and search in general. I say inherently trust Google, but you also, when you examine the data, you have to look for anomalies and things that just kind of don't match the way that they should.

And it's always good to ask questions. Like I think one of the reasons why data driven design has been successful because we go through the process of answering question. 

Joseph: [00:00:34] You're listening to Ecomonics, a Debutify podcast. Your resource for one of the kind of insights into the world of e-commerce and business in the modern age. This is Joseph. I'll be presenting a wealth of industry knowledge from interviews, with successful business people and our own state-of-the-art research. Your time is valuable so let's go.

Paul Hickey tells a story that we all to hear about the critical need for data to aid you in optimal decision-making and development of your business. Data is no stranger to the show, but this is the first time to my recollection, we hear a story about what could happen if it's ignored. Data-driven design is the result of this.

And as a milestone in a long running theme on the show about the importance of accumulated knowledge, we also touch on another piece of the e-commerce puzzle, voice recognition software, along the lines of Alexa. It could be a key asset to your business. So listen up. 

Paul Hickey. It is good to have a here on Ecomonics.

Thank you for joining us. How are you doing today? How are you feeling?

Paul Hickey: [00:01:32] I'm doing great, Joseph. Thanks for having me. Happy to be here. Excited to talk to you.

Joseph: [00:01:36] Same here, I was, I want to say blown away and I hope that that doesn't like set the bar, uh, to higher, to a lower one way or another, but it really was fascinated by like some of the stuff that I got to look at prior to this interview.

So there's a lot here that I'm excited to talk about all of the new stuff. Uh, so listeners check yourself in and pick your ears up. And if you can turn your vacuum cleaner down to like a quieter setting, uh, for this one, Paul first question. Very important. Actually, I guess technically the first question has always been like, how you doing, how you feeling, but that's a pleasantry first actual question is who are you? And what do you do? 

Paul Hickey: [00:02:11] Awesome. My name is Paul Hickey. I'm the CEO of a small scrappy digital agency called data driven design, and, uh, we are fully remote. We're all over the world. Um, I happened to live in Valencia, Spain after starting the business in Nashville, Tennessee. In 2016.

Joseph: [00:02:31] I got to ask you about, uh, uh, Valencia because I'd like to live vicariously through other people.

So we'll chamber that. But the first one that I want to ask you about is your story about, uh, data-driven design. And as a side note, I got to say, I liked your logo a lot because it was two D's and they were kind of like, In tandem with each other. It's like one D starts the other one ends. It says, Oh, okay.

That's a good logo. Oh yeah, yeah. He just showed me a, on the cup there. Um, I'll start with like the, uh, the cliff notes of the story. And then you can have at it from there, it starts with the CEO who, for some reason, Was like ready to launch a website. Um, and then he ended up trusting the opinion of his friend whose expertise was not relevant.

Uh, so, and then it just like, I don't actually know what w what the result of it was like, if things turned out okay. In the end, uh, but Paul, let us know what happened and why this was such a catalyst for you to do what you're doing today. 

Paul Hickey: [00:03:23] Yeah. I'm happy to tell the story. It's kind of fun to think back on this.

I think every experience in my career has in some way, Added to what I do on a daily basis. And this is definitely one of them. So in 2011, I was at a previous, I was in a previous job at a, at a different, uh, digital agency. And my role was project manager and digital strategist. And so, um, as part of that role, I would.

In addition to leading the project and the project team, I was doing some work in the backend of the website, helping put some content and get it loaded and everything like that. And so I had been part of the entire process for several months. And back in 2011, we were actually using a CMS that's asp.net based called site Finity.

And so. It was a great CMS, but it was very heavy and a big one investment for the client and for our team. So the technology wasn't as nimble as it is today, like with all these different WordPress themes that you can use that are kind of pre-packaged designs and things like that. So we had gone through this eight or nine month process of getting this website ready, and it was actually two websites because the brand was kind of branching off and, um, highlighting one of its, uh, One of its, um, revenue streams against another one.

And so it was basically like two big website launches and just the amount of money. I mean probably 80, $90,000 that this owner, um, sole owner of this pretty large company, um, was putting into these websites and yeah, the night before. Uh, both of them were supposed to launch. He was proud at dinner and excited to show his friend who was over for dinner as time friend and his friend just, um, really tore it apart, which I think if, if you put, like, if you and I were to put ourselves into his friend's shoes, like we probably would have done it.

It's just kind of what people do. Like, you're like, Oh, well, I like this. I don't like that. I like this. I don't like that. And, um, So the owner really took that to heart. Like he wanted everybody to have a amazing opinion of his website. Like, especially as best friend who yeah. To your earlier point was not part of the target audience or target demographic, or did that person have any experience?

And so the next day it was just like the shocking blow. He called us all in and he said, we're, we're, we're not going to launch these websites. We need to figure out a way to redo them. And you know, it was tough because, um, He didn't want his entire investment to go down the drain. He wanted us to somehow magically come up with something that everybody would love now on a shoestring budget.

And it was a powerful moment for me because I remember thinking like, if this is happening now, there's nothing that I saw in this eight or nine month project that would ever prevent something like this from happening again. And I just remembered, I remember Google analytics. I remember being in a bookstore, um, probably.

Three years or four years prior to this meeting and seeing, um, like the dummies guide to Google analytics and, you know, a book even published by Google on Google analytics and probably back in 2007 or 2008 when Google analytics first came out as a product. And so I remember thinking, okay, there's web data that I can show people and I've seen it.

I know how to use it. And we need to start making this new part of every process because. Someone's feelings are gonna get hurt if we always just use opinions. And when people's feelings get hurt, um, basically, you know, what hits the fan and projects fall apart. So data driven design really was born out of not trying to be fancy with data or make things take longer because of data analysis, but they're really be.

Productive efficient with time, get things done and get things done for, uh, less costs than if you're just using your opinion. Uh, so yeah, I I'm glad you asked. Cause that's, that's definitely, uh, something that I. Uh, really still think about to this day when I'm, when I'm working. 

Joseph: [00:07:35] I do pride myself on trying to have a unique experience for the listener as well as for you.

So I do have to ask, what would you say is like the ratio of podcasts that you've been a guest on versus how many times you've had to answer that question and tell that story. 

Paul Hickey: [00:07:48] Uh, I mean, I've definitely been on the less podcasts than, than how many times I've told that story. Uh, so it's a great question. Um, and kudos to you for doing your research and, uh, yeah, I'm, it's one of those things where like, For that year, that that happened. Like I, uh, hated that that was happening, but it is a good example of like now I love having that story. So if anyone's going through any tough times out there, I'm not trying to be cheesy, but I mean, it could, it could have been one of your, one of your highlights of your career later on.

Joseph: [00:08:27] Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I don't. I can't imagine how like self-aware somebody would have to be, to be in their catalyst and know that it's their catalyst. It it's not until time passes. And then we see what decisions have arisen from it that we realized well, okay. That really was like a formative moment in our life.

Um, the only way to really know, I guess it was really is actually just how emotional it makes somebody like those really heavily emotional moments. Those we know, okay, this is, this is affecting us. And this is an observation. And it kind of like, it's a, it's a parallel that I, that I drew, um, based off something, not business related, but it's when a relationship between a boyfriend and girlfriend come to a close and I'm relating that moment to the moment that you're gonna see, Oh, not you're a CEO, but the CEO you're working with, uh, had a sudden change of a change of heart.

And it's actually not that often that a breakup is like, Sudden and unexpected, unless one person was like keeping all of their information or all of the way they were feeling inside and they don't say anything. And then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, it just comes as a complete shock to a one party. I find that's not really the case.

What usually happens is. There are signs leading up to that point where eventually there is a tipping point and then, then the moment happens. A moment always has to happen. But a lot of times we can tell that up until this moment there are clues or other giveaways. So I'm wondering if with the power of hindsight, um, was there any clues or was there any, uh, tells that the CEO was really, really not confident in what he was doing?

Paul Hickey: [00:09:57] Yeah, there are. And I think that the, these tells are common in just about every business relationship. And it's actually something that I would tell my teammates and my employees at data driven design often is that, um, and this was the biggest tell in hindsight, on this project is, is how much time and how much money, uh, are being spent on a particular project.

I think it comes down to, um, no matter how strong the relationship is. Um, between. The let's just call it the agency and the client, right? In this case, it's always going to come down to the accounting department or the person writing the checks, looking at the other person in the eye at the client who has the relationship with the agency and saying, have we really worked with this company this long and paid them this much money?

And so I would always remind. Um, my teammates and my employee is a data driven design that, um, you may, things may seem hunky Dory right now, um, with, with how things are going on your calls and in your emails and with the project progress. And it may seem like you have a client who's very understanding, but I promise you that.

Uh, that call is not too far away where their CFO or their CEO gets on the phone with one of us and says, Hey, we got to talk and we got to break this down. So it's, um, a lot of agencies kind of look at it as like justifying their existence, but we, we try to look at it as like, instead of getting to that point, let's always be trying to drive momentum and value to the point where like, they they're happy to always be.

Um, hearing from us or paying their invoice. Right. And so I think the, yeah, the biggest tell is like, I mean, it shouldn't have taken that long to be quite honest with you and it shouldn't, and it shouldn't have cost that much money. And so I really took that to heart with me along, along with the story.

Right. Because ultimately. Um, it's not just his fault and it's not just, it's not just his friend's fault for having an opinion. It's, it's everyone together in the, in that situation, having, having been able to do something. So.

Joseph: [00:12:08] I have one more question about it and then we'll, uh, we'll switch gears, but did it turn out okay afterwards or did the business, uh, I dunno, go under or just like, what was the end game for it, or, sorry, not end game.

What was the aftermath? 

Paul Hickey: [00:12:21] Well for the client, they had a very successful business to begin with. And so I don't think it made much of a dent in their business. Um, for us as an agency, the agency that I was with at the time, same thing with us, we were fine. Um, but I mean, the relationship could have been completely different.

And so really the thing that kind of imploded was the relationship, because how do you have one side that now expects you to build another let's call it. Maybe 40 or $50,000 website at the time for now, like the remaining 5,000. Right. So like, it just, it didn't, um, It didn't work, unfortunately, and things, uh, things stayed friendly for a long time.

We ended up moving to WordPress, which is what I would have preferred to start the project with, uh, because it would've, it would have been lighter and easier to work with than say Finity. Um, so we did end up launching them a new, great WordPress website and they were very happy with it. Um, but ultimately our agency had to take the hit on a lot of.

On unbuilt, unbilled hours, so to speak. But, um, but, and because of that, like we felt like we have now over-delivered and they felt like we had under-delivered big time and that, that they were going to kind of, they had already made up their minds after that bombshell meeting that they were just going to get this last website out of us and then move on to another agency.

And we kind of thought, Oh, well, we're the heroes now because we built new. All of these websites and we did what you wanted. And, um, so the, the relationship is what, what suffered, which that's kinda what I take the heart for most. I'd rather have the relationship to be honest with you. 

Joseph: [00:14:04] Yeah. I mean, in that, in that context, I'm sorry to hear that, but again, like we establish it.

It led to really a new direction, uh, for you to go and, uh, and it's, and it's re and it's revamped and it's revitalized, um, or what it is that you do today. So the next thing I'm going to ask you about, because we're, we're talking about the, the, the Genesis of this business. So there's this through line throughout  that I'm really happy.

We were able to discover, um, it started with the, uh, the interview with, uh, teller Jeff code, who does a, uh, accounting, uh, agency. Um, for some clients work with them and then they do their accounting and not playing favorites or anything, but, you know, it sticks out to me. One of the, the main takeaways from it is that by being an agency, what happens is the data accumulates in aggregate.

Um, the data is collected from each client and as well, the data is also data just. Absorbed from wherever it's found in either. And then by having this pool of it, they can then make more informed decisions for each individual client versus hiring somebody in house. And then they're only, uh, acquiring a data within and then.

Because they're, you know, they're on the payroll, uh, YouTube kind of like out the trust, the trust them implicitly, uh, whereas an agency they have to deliver, otherwise the agency goes, it goes under. I bring this question to you being a data-driven, uh, it's it's the focal point of what you do. So. Uh, I have to ask, uh, if you can expand on, you know, what insights have you been able to collect an aggregate that you've been able to share with agencies that you, those agencies wouldn't be able to find it?

Paul Hickey: [00:15:39] Yeah. So one is with e-commerce sites. Um, we have a lot of insights around, uh, heat mapping. So we've collected heat mapping data from dozens and dozens of e-commerce websites throughout the last. Five or six years. And, um, we, we always will check it again just to make sure in every, in every individual circumstance, but yet ultimately we're able to leverage our aggregate data over the years and not have to redo the work each time, check the data of the current client who's asking to verify that a particular design decision with their website is going to be in line with our, with our data from the past. And so one example is, um, with e-commerce websites, looking at heat mapping that aware do users ignore, uh, on the paid different pages and where do users click the most?

And so generally we'll, we're able to find some, some significant patterns that will lower the bounce rate of the site increase the engagement of the site. And then ultimately that increases the conversion rate on an e-commerce site because. Um, I mean, just in theory at a high level you're, uh, you're you might be, you know, you're acquiring web traffic, whether you're paying for it or getting it organically.

And if it's bouncing, then it has no chance of converting. So if we can lower the bounce rate and increase the engagement rate, that's going to increase the conversion rate. And so that's where we start with everybody. And. It's a very useful exercise, but it's very quick and easy because to your point, we're definitely leveraging the years of data.

So it can be something like, you know, you've got three extra links in the navigation. Um, it can be something like you've got your social media icons and then navigation. Um, too many things for the eye to look at is very common, different photo placements of products, different things like that. Um, come to mind as, as simple changes that we're able to look at right away and say, We're not just saying this because we want to impress you.

We actually do have data that backs it up. But just in this one conversation, I can tell you that if your site also checks out, you should make these three to five changes on your homepage, on your product page, within your. Checkout flow and you should see a increase in engagement, which will ultimately help your conversion.

Um, so that that's one off the top of my head. And then of course we use Google analytics a lot. So we're looking at the top viewed pages, the user flow, the bounce rate on all the different pages. And we also like to check people's expectations related to their web traffic. I think a lot of, a lot of businesses have an inflated idea of how much web traffic they're actually getting.

So they might look at the total number of visitors in a time period. But then when we say, Hey, this actually breaks down to X amount of visitors a day. I think we can give them a little bit better idea of what their expectations should be for conversions on their website. 

Joseph: [00:18:39] I think that's a, that's always been a tricky thing regardless of what the, what the project is, and even using our, uh, our podcast here as an example.

Whenever I'm trying to look at the downloads on, um, on, on the liberated syndication dashboard. I can see what are the raw downloads. And it tells me some things, but doesn't tells me everything. It doesn't tell me if they download it just because they subscribed to it. And they've gotten into that rut where their downloads are exceeding their listening time.

Uh, it doesn't tell me if those who do listen are listening to it all the way through. So I, I guess to a point. And where I, which has actually, I've been doing this from the beginning. Um, having done podcasting for 10 years is I've always tried to just make sure that I'm like, I'm getting feedback from listeners.

Um, because I want to hear from them directly. I do want even if like, you know, maybe their, their opinion is not the most well formed kind of, um, alluding back to what we talked about with your CEO and his, and his friend there. I still want to hear from them. Um, cause at least it gives me some insight into.

How engaged people are with it. So, yeah, it's a, it's a difficult thing I think of regardless of where, uh, trying to acquire the data. So, um, uh, I'll, I'll leave that into a question that believe it or not, I did have chamber. It is, um, when you're, when you're looking at the, the data, how are you, uh, best determining its accuracy?

Paul Hickey: [00:19:59] Yeah. Well, I mean, that also comes with many years of experience looking at Google analytics. So for example, You, you do have to inherently trust that Google analytics data is going to be accurate just based on. Google itself sort of dominating the internet and search in general. Um, but there are certain things that you see.

So you'll, you might see, uh, you look for patterns is essentially what you do. So you might see patterns in the data that show a spike in web traffic during different times. And you might not be able to put your hands on the referral source to that web traffic. Well, we do see things like bots, you know, can infiltrate Google analytics.

And so. Some of you might be familiar with some of your listeners might be familiar with the Boardman, Oregon, uh, location, uh, bots that can infiltrate Google analytics and spike your web traffic. And you look so you you'll you'll look for an anomalies as well. So a good one, a good, like real one that everybody should look at is if you have high web traffic during any one time and.

It's you can't pinpoint the referral source, but you see that, uh, this particular web traffic has a very low bounce rate and a very low time on site. Those things are not going to match. They shouldn't match up, right? Because if, if it's a low bounce rate, it means that someone's engaging with the site.

But if the bounce rates say 0.05, which is like, Oh, a hundred percent of traffic is staying on the site, but the time on site says less than a second, you know, that that's bot traffic. So there's, there's particular things that you can see, um, where common sense should lead you. If you, if you look into multiple aspects of the data, It should lead you to, that's not accurate.

Um, if, if it's referral traffic com coming from a particular IP address, for example, if an IP address is showing as a referral source, that could be an indicator that somebody from an office location who maybe that's the office of the company, whose website that it is, is dominating the web traffic. Well, that's something that might need to be filtered out.

So. I say inherently trust, Google, but you also, when you examine the data, you have to look for, um, anomalies and things that just kind of don't match the way that they should. And it's always good to ask questions. Like I think one of the reasons why data driven design has been successful is because we go through the process of answering questions and clients have made us smarter.

I mean, they we've been asked a lot of really good questions by clients who do not necessarily trust the data. And so having to go back and research and double check ourselves is really. Made us a lot better. So I encourage everybody out there to ask a lot of questions and question the data. 

Joseph: [00:22:53] Yeah. Um, one thing I, I would like to point out about Google, um, two guests ago, um, uh, Robert, he had asked me if, uh, if I had ever Googled myself, uh, and you know, once in a while I, you know, I get the itch, uh, but I hadn't done it in a while.

So I typed myself in. And, um, for my search, the number one is, is a realtor near like nearby. Uh, then, uh, number two, it was me. I was like, Oh yeah, I'm all right. Number two. And number two, Joseph ion, because I, I actually met another Joseph and he believe it or not. Uh, and he had said that he he's in, he's in, um, Oh God, he's going to hate me for this.

If I forget if it's like Sweden or Switzerland, but he's over there in the Alps and he's and he searched. And the first result on his side was an Italian mobster. Now is the realtor who listen here by also the mobster. I don't know maybe this possibility, but to be fair to Google it, I think the results do change at least somewhat based off the address or the location.

Paul Hickey: [00:23:42] Yeah, 100%. Yeah, 100%. No one's ever going to really. Uh, get the same two Google results. And actually, I'm glad you brought that up because, um, one area that we do use data all the time is in the search result data. So for that we use Google search console and Google search console. We'll show you the, essentially the aggregate data of where your website actually does rank.

And so it's. Better than a third-party tool. That's gonna kinda guesstimate that and clients will always ask. Okay, well, you say that, uh, this data that you've provided us from Google search console says that we rank 5.4 for this particular keyword, but when I Google it. We show up number eight. And so that's the same point that you just made, which is the search engine results pages are going to rank keywords for users based on their search history, their location, their device, all sorts of different factors.

And the 5.4 is an explanation of, well, that's the average of where you actually show for everyone. And so it's very important. Um, that people know, obviously that, that, that SEO data is out there in Google search console. And, um, that's the most accurate as it's ever going to get in terms of where you rank on Google?

Joseph: [00:25:06] I was, I was entertaining this idea that just to mix things up for an episode, I would like deliberately go in unprepared. Uh, I'm glad it wasn't this episode. Yeah. And I think I'm just going to rule that idea out all together until like, I'll give it like six years or something like that. Uh, I got, I got a specific one from your Instagram.

Um, and, uh, it being specific. I know there was like a lot of information. Somebody pull off the top of your head. So if you kept a log recall specifically, no worries. But the website traffic increase for a pro fastpitch. It was 149% and then engagement by 99%. Um, can you recall what, uh, maybe in this specific example where you guys did to help increase the numbers to that level?

Paul Hickey: [00:25:46] Yeah. So we'll for pro fastpitch. They were. An organization that when we, when we redesigned their way, say it was in 2018 and they're extremely popular, uh, pro softball league with extremely high web traffic. And so to achieve an increase in web traffic, um, wasn't necessarily something that I was expecting.

Um, and really the answer is we didn't do anything too fancy there, but we did go through our process of looking at the data and understanding what would provide a better user experience based on that data. And then executing that plan, building a very simple pro sports league website, which is very near and dear to my heart.

I used to work in professional sports. Those, those are my first jobs coming out of college. And so, um, I think part of that experience helped as well, being involved in, um, reorganizing, what they had had on their old website, migrating all of their content. They had over 20,000. Uh, news posts that we migrated over into their new, and they did not have a WordPress website.

We built them a WordPress website. So we were not actually able to migrate it in an automate passion. So my team and I actually had to manually migrate over 20,000 blog posts. And just second was the opportunity to streamline the process to the point where, um, we were able to just build a better user experience.

And I think credit to their team as well. Uh, their VP, Galen Wilson. And I really teamed up just to make sure that that whole process was seamless with that website redesign. It was the opposite of the story that I told earlier. It was a huge website that we built in about three months and, uh, and it went really well.

So I think, um, no silver bullet there in terms of the web traffic and the engagement going up, but, um, looking at the data. Building a new site map based on the data building new page designs, weeding out pages that weren't working, migrating in the content that needed to be migrated to make sure that it's all technically sound in terms of the three Oh one redirects, um, three Oh one.

I'm not going to continue to talk about this too much longer, but three Oh one redirects are super important. When you're redesigning a website, they actually can have. The impact of a huge increase in website traffic, because a lot of organizations, um, have their content kind of scattered all around and they don't, when they redesign their website, they focus on the design.

And so they might end up with a new website that as great as it is, has a dip in web traffic, because they don't redirect all their pages to the right page. And they have this history of Google index indexing their pages. So what happens is. So they'll go to either a completely broken link or a four Oh four page.

And so they'll, their data will, will drop off and that might be critical because they might be trying to sell sponsorships or advertising space based on that. Um, and it ultimately will hurt their SEO in the longterm. So the three Oh one redirects are pretty important. 

Joseph: [00:28:59] Now, now let's say that does happen.

Like if you know, it gets past, um, the, the testing phase by launch, um, I, my, my guess is you still have the, either looking at your key maps or looking at the traffic in aggregate, you can catch when it happens. And you say, wait a minute, there's a odd drop off over here. What's going on? Oh, it's a, it's a301 redirect or, Oh, it's a 404 page .

Paul Hickey: [00:29:19] Yeah, 100%.

I mean, that was my number one business development tactic for a long time where I would go in. And I would offer a free Google analytics analysis. And for myself, I was secretly hoping that I would find some mistake that somebody else had made like that. But, and it was good news ultimately for the client.

Cause I would say, okay. Yeah. I mean here's why your traffic dipped off. All we have to do is implement these three Oh one redirects, but you're absolutely right. You can do it after the fact. Um, obviously nobody wants to. Nobody wants to lose any kind of web traffic, but ultimately if you do experience that there, there are ways of pulling those URLs and redirecting them at any time in the future so that you can get things back on track basically.

Joseph: [00:30:14] Uh, I got to shift gears just slightly. We're still going to be on the, on the data part of this. Podcast, but this is one that I was more personally curious about. Um, it's in, regarding, uh, aesthetics, such as color choice and logo design, and you know, the elements of lean more on the artistic side. So do you, and if so, how can you make a data-driven decisions based off stuff that leans a little bit more into, you know, the emotional?

Paul Hickey: [00:30:37] Yeah. I love that. I mean, AB testing is really the answer to that. Um, we we've worked with we've had on our team amazing. Uh, designers, visual designers, and we've worked with clients that have had amazing visual designers and we've been able to. Work together in specific roles where data driven design may take on more of the, the data geek analyst role and developer role while maybe the client takes on the design role.

But the client to your point will definitely say like, which one should we pick? And our answer always is, well, let's, let's run an AB test. Let's put both of them there and let's run an ad. You can run an AB test and ABC tests, a, B, C, D test, whatever you want. Right. And you can run it. For as long as you want, or as short as you want, we believe any, any sample size of data related to either a photo choice, a button color, a logo option.

Maybe it's an icon set. Anything you want to test, you can, you can. And there's any number of testing tools out there. I mean, Google optimize is a good one. You can run AB tests using Google analytics. You can use optimize Lee or, you know, the list goes on and on. Uh, so, um, That's my answer for the aesthetic.

Now we do, we have gotten better at visual design in the last probably four or five years. Um, although our feelings aren't hurt. Somebody else has a graphic artist and they want us to do the more, um, strategist and developer role.

Joseph: [00:32:14] Right? Yeah. I it's, I would say it's a, it's a proficiency, but not to the level of mastery of some of the stuff that you are.

This is the thing about being Canada is like we're, we're chronic over correctors and we try so hard to be polite, but like, you know, there are certain elements that you're obviously very clearly, um, proficient, and then there's other things that you're not quite as proficient at, or it's not quite. What other people make their prime goals.

So I can, I can see the logic in that, but like you said, you're just getting better and better anyways. 

Paul Hickey: [00:32:41] Yeah. I think it's super easy to look at us and our work and say the design, the visual aesthetics could be better. And it's what we've, we've prioritized, um, the effectiveness of the end product over the way that it looks.

And so we're definitely, we're definitely less artists than we are. Um, How about the results. And I think it just comes, I think it comes from a place of that's what we, that's what I, and our team have always been held accountable for. Like, we've been held accountable for like, yeah, this is all great. But like, is it gonna help me make money?

Like, is it going to help? You know, is it, am I going to get a return on investment from that? And I can't look at a piece of artwork or a design and say anything about it, that's worth anything, unless I look at data behind it. So like, if you have. A piece of artwork on the wall in a museum and you can actually check who likes it and who doesn't as they walk by and their facial expression or whatever, like then I'll say, Oh, well, this piece of artwork sucks because only.

5% of people liked it, you know, like that this is how I'm wired. And I think, yeah, to your point, you can, you can tell that about us probably by looking at our website and our client's websites. 

Joseph: [00:34:01] Oh, I, I looked at it and like I said, with the logo, I thought, uh, I thought it Roosevelt quite good. And I, and not to like, uh, go, go far, go too deep into this.

But I think one of the things that gets dismissed about. Art in general is that it's like, it's purely an emotional thing. Whereas I find that the, the point is to learn the mechanics of art, uh, understand the techniques. So then that way people can more properly convey their emotion. And I remember I was talking to this one friend I met, uh, years ago and she had these paintings on the wall and the subject matter was really interesting.

It was like, Dark takes all of the different, um, holiday mascots, like the Easter bunny and Santa Claus. And I thought the subject matter was great, but her technique was just not good. And she said, well, it doesn't matter. It's just hard. I'm like, well, no, actually it does. It doesn't, it doesn't matter. Um, so, so that's one thing to, I would, I would, uh, I would consider is, you know, there are ways to look at the mechanics and see how, um, Something with the art artistic design can still, um, be the result of techniques and data driven decisions.

Uh, one, one factor. I, I don't know if you know this, tell me if you know this, but, um, one of the things that. Happens when people are writing like TV sitcoms is although the, the old adage is that comedy is subjective is actually not humor's subjective. What people find funny is subjective, but the craft is purely objective.

It's set up it's payoff. And so when people are writing, writing scripts for like, I don't know, two and a half men, there's actually mandates where they have to have like this many laugh points per, per minute. Otherwise the show doesn't. Uh, it doesn't meet standard. Um, so what we, what we learned is the more we get into these things is that we live beyond the veil and we actually see the, the gears running behind it, even something as if America is right.

Paul Hickey: [00:35:50] I liked that a lot because as I've done more web design myself over the last few years, I've really enjoyed it more. At first I did kind of dismiss it as like art and, but. Uh, and, and I dismissed my own abilities saying like, well, I'm not an artist, I'm, I'm more of this, but, but what you, the way that you just explain, that really makes a lot of sense to me because I've gotten better as a web developer, and I've gotten better as a web developer because I've gone through a process that you just described.

And it isn't a different process. It's like the same process every time. But then the work ends up looking a certain way. Uh, that can be, I would call it more professional each time, you know? And, and so I think I like the way that you, that you put it in terms of like the technique happening. The way that it's supposed to happen, puts the user, the viewer in a position where they can express their true emotions for it.

I feel like that's exactly what I've been doing as a, as a web designer over the last few years. So I can totally relate to that. 

Joseph: [00:36:55] What we'll find is the people who are most dismissive of art are artists. Like you go to like museums of contemporary art, and there's like a, a smudge on the wall and somebody goes, Oh, it's beautiful.

And then one of the. So clerk's working there. It says, no, that was actually an accident. Somebody just like, you know, was moving, uh, uh, uh, a frame and it against the wall. Oh, but it's beautiful. I'll take it. So it's actually artists who are like doing the most disservice to art right now. They don't, they, they almost like to them.

It's like, they're not learning the techniques as an act of rebellion. So, what you will find is like some of the best rebels in arts have always been the ones who knew the mechanics first, like, um, in, in comedy bill Hicks, um, George Carlin, a lot of these comedians known for being like antiestablishment and anti-system, they were part of the system first.

They got it. And then they use what they learned and they moved into and then more than they became legends, at least as far as comedy goes, I'll make one other point too, for people who are like, who, who want to like. Understand this, um, open, the more intuitively music is a great thing to study because music is all craft like every, uh, even if you listen to like electronic music, it's highly technological obviously, but it's also highly math based.

Like, you'll hear like four chord progressions, uh, and then the move on two, and then they'll add another chord progression onto it. After that it's actually quite mechanical and the way it's constructed. 

Paul Hickey: [00:38:14] Yeah. And not to get into this too much, but I've noticed. I've I've always been a huge hip hop fan since I was like six.

And, uh, I just recently learned this about hip hop, but there's certain standards around how to build a song and how to build the track and how to build the, the lyrics, the bars and all that. So, um, it's no coincidence that. You can, you can recognize like a DJ premiere beat or something like that. You know, it, it, I think that's a good point that you brought up music as well.

I think to me, this is, this is how I work. I work while I'm listening to music, I work while I'm, um, you know, inspired by a bunch of other things. So I liked the conversation about web design and development as art, and as, as like a form of, of, um, Creative form of expression. So.

Joseph: [00:39:06] Yeah. Yeah, it is. I mean, many, many professions in one way or another, um, involve expression and depending on.

I don't know, like one of my friends who's in engineering, right? So for him, uh, there was very little expression because people need to cross that bridge. Um, so there's definitely a lot more rules to follow than average. But one thing I I'd say is that if all you're focused on is making money and then just work for the mint, I think most people are drawn to a profession that at least gives them some outlet for what it is they're doing.

I know that's definitely foot, you know, uh, why I'm in the position that I'm in. So I can speak for myself first and foremost. Speaking of art and beauty, you live in a bland SIA. Spain. I see that that was probably one of the best, uh, translations ever did. So I'm going to ask about this and I want to make sure that I frame this in a way that's, um, quantifiable value for our listeners, because a lot of the people who get into drop shipping, one of the main draws is the ability to get the freedom they go wherever they want.

Um, or, you know, just being able to succeed in e-commerce altogether because it's, it's a highly remote operation. So, uh, first thing I want to hear is. I believe you guys wanted to move to somewhere where everything was more contained, more compact, so things were more readily accessible and you didn't have to drive everywhere.

Why all the way in Spain and, or not maybe somewhere else in the States. So I'd like to start there. 

Paul Hickey: [00:40:22] Yeah, definitely. Um, well, first of all, before I go there, I'll be very brief. I was the guy that was in the office every day from age 19 through. 36, um, before, and that was commuting from wherever sometimes an hour, both ways, um, to be in the office and wear a suit and tie and, and all that stuff.

And so, um, after 17 years of doing that, I, I got a job for an agency that was in Michigan and, um, I was in Nashville. Just outside of Nashville and I really enjoyed remote working. Um, I was not someone that ever needed a boss to motivate me in any way, um, by checking in on me or wondering where I was or anything like that.

So I really flourished in the remote work environment. There were a few like kinks I had to iron out. And so we were looking initially at just moving. Around the area in middle Tennessee, just to a different area. And then as my wife, Kate and I started talking, we, we realized that we didn't have an office for our business.

Like we were working from home. I had started data driven design by that point. And our clients really didn't care where we were. There'd be a little bit of a business development challenge potentially. Cause this was 2018. It was still before like. I mean, believe it or not, like we're all used to it now in 2021, but I mean, it was less than a year ago.

People still expected everybody to be in an office. So it was a little bit of a challenge thinking of, of moving anywhere outside of middle Tennessee. But we started thinking, well, we are remote. Um, what if we kind of pursued what we talked about on our honeymoon in 2005, which was moving to Europe, possibly Spain, because, uh, The Spanish language is something that my wife, uh, has, has known since she was a little girl and we've always wanted our kids to learn Spanish.

So tying everything together, it was this culmination of we have a business now we're, well-established enough with the business to where we can swing it and just tell all of our clients and coworkers and partners that we're still going to be readily available for them. We're just going to be in a completely different time zone.

And we're not gonna be able to meet face to face, but we've got everything else figured out. And, um, we visited, so we visited Spain in February of 2018. We went to two cities, Valencia and Mala. And, um, we met friends in Valencia that are, uh, for sure going to be lifelong friends and just fell in love with the city.

It's a more of a tropical climate it's on the water. So it's like, It's like a city of a million people in a beautiful city center. The cost of living is super low and we're basically a couple miles away from the beach. So, um, it was like, how do we not do this now that the big challenge is like getting our kids into school.

So we, we took. Uh, at the time, a nine year old and a seven year old who knew no Spanish and put them in public school in Spain where they only speak Spanish and the local language it's called the Valenciano, which is not really like Spanish. It's kind of like Spanish. That's a totally different language.

And so the first year was pretty hard because the kids had to get acclimated, but, um, Uh, ever since we made the move. And, and certainly now that a lot of other, a lot of other companies are making them move, unfortunately, because they were forced to, luckily we weren't forced to make the move to remote working.

Um, we're in, we're in a really good spot and, uh, we obviously just hope that everybody else has as good of a work experience working remote and is able to maybe one day kind of do what we did and, uh, So, yeah, we're, we're fortunate, but Spanish language, culture getting out of middle Tennessee, those for a little while for our kids.

Those were all, um, goals that we thought would happen someday. But we looked at ourselves in the eye in 2018 and said, we could do this now if we want. So we made it happen. 

Joseph: [00:44:44] Yeah. And you and I are talking right now, it's, it's 11:00 AM here in Toronto. It's 5:00 PM there in, uh, and Valencia. And I mean, there it's, it's, it's, it's crazy how like little of a delay there is between what I'm seeing and you're receiving it.

Uh, so, you know, technology has certainly come a long, long way. 

Paul Hickey: [00:45:02] Yeah, 100% and, and now, you know, there's been with the pandemic. It certainly, it should go without saying, but I'm going to say it anyway. Like it's an unfortunate circumstance that brought people to become more familiar and okay. With, with, uh, remote meetings.

But, um, it is something that I think. Um, I whole heartedly believes just makes everybody more efficient and effective. And if, if I think the more companies that can embrace it, I think they'll have a more efficient, effective and fulfilled workforce. And, um, so I'm very, very thankful that we're able to do this and that there's not, I mean, I could tell you for the first like year and a half that I lived in Spain, I mean, I definitely was kind of the the weird one for, for wanting to jump on a zoom call instead of like pick up the phone and call somebody or show up at their door. So I'm, I'm very, very thankful that that I'm able to do this now without any of the weird looks or remarks. 

Joseph: [00:46:06] Yeah, yeah. You've already, uh, uh, acclimated to it. I was sort of in a similar position because in the previous job, um, we were working with a German company, so we didn't really have a choice.

We had to hop on the phone and, you know, like we had to hop on the phone first thing in the morning too, before we even had our morning coffee, because our morning was like the end of their day. So we had like a window of like, I don't know, 30 minutes to have our powwows. Um, so it takes, it takes some adjusting, but it's just a sign of what we're moving towards as, um, you know, the world.

Through our ingenuity is finding ways to be more connected and it's, it's, it's a beautiful thing to be a part of. And it is unfortunate. A lot of people really suffered in the pandemic, but I think, I think for the, the, the people who have that, that drive or that initiative to want to put themselves in a better place.

They had that before they had that during. So I think the people who didn't have that drive were already suffering in their own ways prior to it. So, you know what, we'd have to look at the data. Right. There's, there's, there's lots of different things that happened. And a lot of it is unfortunate, but a lot of it is also going to be a positive in the long run.

Paul Hickey: [00:47:09] Yeah, absolutely.

Joseph: [00:47:10] Um, okay. So I even in the, uh, in the research that I did, I didn't find, um, any insight into what you were doing prior to, um, Uh, I was about to say triple D, but maybe I shouldn't as a data driven designs. Um, cause you were saying you had done, you had passionate about baseball and you had done a work with, um, you forgive me if I get the, the terminology wrong, but with like a baseball league or within the industry in one way.

Paul Hickey: [00:47:35] Yeah. So I started actually as an intern for the Detroit pistons in 2001 and worked with them through 2007. So my first, first years, uh, in the first professional years were, um, We're we're in the NBA and in professional sports and PR and community relations and, uh, definitely towards the end of that, the digital digital departments.

So as the, the websites became more important than the fax machines and the copier printers and copiers. Um, and so, yeah, that was, uh, that was in Detroit, um, great experience there and definitely like a lot of, uh, A lot of life lessons come coming from that experience. And, um, a lot of great context too.

Like I've been fortunate enough to even in this, this phase of my career, still stay in touch with a lot of those folks. So, yeah. And that definitely helped me with the pro fastpitch project. Um, being able to work with another pro sports league and help them build their website. Uh, I pulled back at the time I worked in Detroit, there was also a women's basketball team, um, in the w NBA called the shock. So the women's softball league promotionally faced a lot of the same challenges as the w NBA. So, uh, this kind of interesting how, uh, you, I feel like you live multiple lives, but sometimes your lives can kind of. Easily intersect when you don't, you don't think it's going to happen.

Joseph: [00:49:09] So, um, the, the, the question that I was going to pose, which you, you, more or less answered it was when I asked you one of my favorite questions, it's a Joe Ianni original, um, other podcasts may or may not be using it at this point. And it may or may not have discovered that in listening to their episodes, it's, it's cool.

They, they said they were going to do it and I support it. I'm actually flattered by it. Anyways, the, the question was like, what skills did you have at that point that came with you into what you were doing. Uh, but you, you, you, you sort of like alluded to it and in is whatever your specific roles and responsibilities.

So if there's anything else that you wanted to add to it, um, feel free. Otherwise we'll, uh, we'll switch gears again.

Paul Hickey: [00:49:45] I think the skill that I had going into it, that I was able to fine tune that without a doubt is still like the skill that I think helps me. More than any other to this day is a written communications.

Like I've, I've always enjoyed writing. Um, I prefer writing probably to any other form of communication and I had that going into my, uh, Time with the pistons, but I being in public relations, writing all the time, um, that really helped me fine tune that skill and to be able to write web copy, even just to be able to write professional emails to people, um, is a huge thing.

That's helped me in my career and still does. Um, and then a skill that I didn't have at all, going into that experience that, um, definitely needed, uh, and super thankful that happened is. To be able to understand how a business makes money. You know, I think a lot of people, especially people who have a job and nothing against people who have a job, what I mean by that is like, I think there's people who have a job and that means that they applied for a specific job with a description, with a salary.

They see, they get a paycheck from a company and that's what they do. And that's very admirable. Like that's what I did during those years. And then there's people that understand how a company actually makes money. The two are not mutually exclusive, but I was definitely one of those people from Oh one Oh seven that had no idea how a company actually makes money.

I just had a job. And by the end of '07, I was like, huh. Okay. So that's how. The pistons community relations department or public relations department or. You know, that's how we actually help sell tickets or sell sponsorships. And that's what revenue is. And, you know, and so it may sound stupid to say that, but it's like, I think a lot of times people don't connect those dots.

And I had a supervisor who was kind of a mentor to me there who like really made sure that I was able to connect those dots. So that's definitely a skill that. I still have to have today running my own business.

Joseph: [00:51:53] I'll say briefly from my own position too. Is that what I'm doing right now is a job. Uh, but I, I guess my own position, it's, uh, I'm, I'm a hybrid as well.

Like I have my own aspirations. I started out my own e-commerce store. Um, so I always have my own personal initiatives as well. And my personal initiatives have led me to this job. Um, so it sounded like it's something that I'm doing that has nothing to do with anything else that I'm doing. It's, it's a cross-pollination of our own initiatives, as well as, um, you know, where, where, where they take us.

So we got to shift gears because this is. This is huge. We've got to get to this. I haven't talked to anybody else about this on a, on the podcast. Uh it's. I don't even know how I'm gonna get the term, right. It's like voice-based business or just using voice for your. Business and when we're in another, so for somebody like me, who only knows of, you know, okay, Google and Alexa, is it safe to go outside, uh, as a consumer level services?

Um, how are businesses in the e-commerce space integrating voice-based services and I'm way off on the terminology. I'm sorry. I'm doing my best here. 

Paul Hickey: [00:52:59] No you're doing great. I mean, the reality is that there's still a pretty large education curve that businesses have to understand this. So you're right there.

Um, but it is, you know, voice technology is how I would refer to it. Um, what we're really talking about when we say those words are right now, Alexa and Google assistant, those are the two that dominate the real estate. Related to dominate the market, um, related to voice, voice assistance, voice-based technology.

And, um, what's really cool about them. And what got me into them is Alexa allows developers to build what are called skills, which are apps voice-based apps. Um, that run on, on Alexa enabled devices, any Alexa enabled device. And by now we all know there's like close to a hundred of them. Um, we've got the headphones and we've got the echo, shows the echo dots.

You've got the fire TVs, et cetera, et cetera. And then you've got Google assistant and Google assistant calls them actions. So skills actions, they're, they're both, they're both the same thing. They're both apps on top of voice devices and really what it is is it's, it's like a. It's like building a website, um, for a browser only instead of a browser or a mobile device, it's for the voice device.

Uh, so it's like building a mobile app only instead of your, for your phone it's for the voice device. And so, um, anyone with any kind of, um, Skills like, like mine, like if you're a design experience designer or developer, um, you can build these things and there are no code tools that allow you to build out a journey or a simple skill.

Um, where you might ask a question and get, get back a random answer or, you know, whatever the developer wants the experience to be. And so I really got involved when I looked at the data in the beginning of 2018 and saw that the amount of people using Alexa specifically at the time, and then Google assistant has come around more towards the last probably 18 months.

But. The, the amount of people using Alexa and Google assistant has grown a ridiculous amount. And although it's still primarily skews towards music, weather, and sort of the basic, like smart home stuff. There's more awareness being promoted by Amazon and Google about these skills and actions and there's incentives being given to developers to create these actions in the same way that Apple was doing with the, with the, uh, iTunes store, the app store.

And so. Um, as I saw the data and I saw the amount of incentives being given by developers, um, and I don't necessarily mean monetary incentives, but I mean, like ease of use of the platform and like access is really what I'm talking about. Um, I really got into building these skills and actions. So starting in about June, 2018.

I started building flash briefings, which are like little mini podcasts on top of Alexa that you can add to kind of like, it's like a purse. If you remember, like personalized RSS feeds, like where you could like aggregate all your news articles into, into an RSS feed and your, your home tab browser, which some people still may do.

That's like what your flash briefing is. And then I started to get into, okay, well now you can build these experiences as custom as you want them. So we started to build experiences. Say for the echo show device, where we had one of our clients who wanted to do, how to videos, where people could just ask Alexa to bring up a, how to video while they were in their garden or their kitchen, and maybe their hands were already dirty and they couldn't get their phone out and bring out YouTube and those kinds of things.

So, um, there's all kinds of things that I can talk about related to what voice apps are and what you can do with them. I'll leave you with a few things. One is. To kind of curb the curb, the education gap. I started a conference called the Nashville voice conference, which later post pandemic evolved into the voice event, which was a virtual virtual event.

But its purpose is to educate businesses on like all these things that they can use, voice technology to become more efficient and effective. And then another thing we did at data-driven design is we built a WordPress plugin called the voice designer. That any voice activates any WordPress website for both Alexa and Google assistant.

So you can actually in the same way that you can update your website's content and you can update the content that a user can say, Alexa, Alexa asks about my business. Whatever you can give it, your business's name, Alexa, Alexa launch my business name. And you can tell your, you can tell your audience that there's information on Alexa and Google assistant about your business, that they don't need to get their phone out.

They don't need to look at the, at their screen. They can talk to Alexa while they're driving and they can get information about, about, uh, your business. So, um, the voice event, national voice conference, the voice designer I could keep going on and on about it. But. All of these things are because the data is making me be very passionate about small businesses need to be on these voice devices.

They need to carve out a presence. On these voice devices, because it is the next way that people are searching to get their information. So it's kind of like getting a website back in the late nineties, early two thousands, when you could try to rank high on Google. So I'm trying to get all of our clients at data-driven design, get these voice apps with their website so that their audience will ultimately also be able to find them on these voice devices.

Joseph: [00:58:50] So, one thing that I was thinking about is in my own relationship with voice, because. No, this is, this is what I need to work. So I think for me, I might be one of those holdouts where I might just want to stick to manual as much as I can just because I don't want to like Alexa, get the lights, Alexa, and then next thing I know my voice is shot and then I have to do recording, but that I'm, uh, I'm, I'm more of an anomaly in this case.

Not everybody realized in their voice, uh, for their work. So, uh, but on the conversely I, the, you were saying a gardener for instance, Really use the extra help, just so that they're not wasting time. They got to wash your hands and got to turn on a video. I got to come back to it. I can also see a small business owner who might not have the overhead to hire an assistant at that moment.

But. Can get, save a lot of time and be much more efficient by having a voice assistant, just to help run things, maybe change the music or, um, uh, collect, ask for a piece of data. So it's hard to, I, I it's, it's fascinating to think about, I can't quite picture, like what would be the, uh, what were the limitations of it?

So, uh, rather than, uh, ask such a peculiar question, I'm just going to not do that, but I do want to know. Um, so th th the convention that you started is that the same one as project voice, or is that a, is that a different one or was it like a naming thing going on there? 

Paul Hickey: [01:00:10] Yeah, so actually when I started the national voice conference and the voice of that, um, the project voice founder saw that I was, uh, running my own voice events.

His name is Bradley met rock, and he invited me to be part of project voice, and. So project voice last year was in Chattanooga. And I had the opportunity to go and meet several other people in the voice industry project. Boys is more of a leaders in voice conference. Whereas the national voice conference and the voice event are like, okay, we're going to stop thinking about the, what ifs.

Related to where the voice industry could go. But we're going to teach you at this conference, how you can implement voice in your small business right now to make you more efficient in the fact that so I would say my conferences are much more tactical and practical in the moment for businesses.

Whereas Bradley's conference is definitely more, um, industry thought leadership from like the top leaders invoice. 

Joseph: [01:01:17] Hmm. Okay. And what I would recommend for listeners is to, I I'm presuming that there's enough content online for, I know that there's project, voice content online, but, uh, for the, uh, but for your conference, I presume that there's also some content online that we can look at.

So we can look at it in more of the tangible side? 

Paul Hickey: [01:01:35] Yeah. The best place to go. I created a website for everything that I've ever done related to voice. Um, content and all my voice related content and all my voice related presentations and conferences, interviews, everything is that voice series.com. So I put it all there and, uh, I would love it.

If listeners want to go check out voice series.com and you'll see everything from everything that we've mentioned, project boys, national voice conference, the voice event. There's even been some great, um, Nashville design week. Um, I presented designing for voice at Nashville design week. So even having the voice design conversations that like that visual design conference has been kind of fun.

So all that content is@voiceseries.com. And if anyone's interested in voice enabling their WordPress website, Check out the voice designer.com and you'll get a direct line to me on either of those sites. So I'm happy to help you out. 

Joseph: [01:02:36] Surely I recommend that our listeners look into this because this is it's something that we can be on the, on the forefront of at the very least.

And it's because one of the main innovations in technology is to always find ways to make things more easier for us to use and more accessible voices. When that, you know, 99.9, 9% of us have the ability to do. 

All right. So Paul we've, uh, this has been a blast. There's been so much that I've been able to learn today.

Uh, we're going to decompress. I have some questions and these are fun. Just kind of like just a chance to kind of like a blast off in the space a little bit. The first one that I'm curious about, uh, I, I'm going to ask you to, and then I'm going to give you our wrap up question. The first one is, have you ever considered getting into chess or if you are a chess player, a seeing how well your data-driven mindset could apply to a strategy game, Clippy, something I'm wondering if you've ever thought about.

Paul Hickey: [01:03:26] Yeah, I'm pretty intrigued by chess. Uh, I enjoy that. It's, it's actually a game I can play with my kids. Um, so that's, that's one part that intrigues me about it. The, I did, as I'm sure. A lot of listeners have recently watched the Netflix show. The Queen's gambit pretty much, um, made, I think, made chess look really cool.

So I think, um, before that I thought it was a pretty cool game. Had never really gotten into it. I'm someone who likes to work as much as possible. So chess would take me. Like away from that a lot, which would make me feel completely unproductive. But as a game independently of like my feelings about I'd rather be working, I'm definitely intrigued by chess.

Joseph: [01:04:13] All right. And so the other one, uh, um, for our listeners, wondering why did you put your guests or these things just know that I screened this first, before we started recording. Uh, I wanted to ask you a spiritual question. Um, you know, your business is your business. Your life is your life. But what I'm wondering is if the data focused mindset allows for something, um, purely faith-based and, uh, what does your relationship look like in regards to your own spirituality?

You know, if it's there, if it's not there, whatever the case is, I am curious to know, um, how the relationship between these two points. 

Paul Hickey: [01:04:46] I am not a religious person. I would say at all, but I believe I'm a spiritual person. I have a relationship with something greater than myself and, you know, humanity. Uh, and I think that for me, it's personally deeply rooted in like what I value most, which is time with my wife and my kids and the data driven design.

Business and the principles and differentiators of data driven design allow me to have appropriate work-life balance for me. So it's also the principals and differentiators of data driven design are like deeply rooted in kind of who I am as a person, which is like, I want to feel like I built, like I'm building something important.

I want to feel like I'm building something that's going on. That. You can get some instant gratification from, um, and that you can sort of please others with and put a smile on other people's faces. So as a person I'm not very like service oriented or religious in terms of like wanting to. Necessarily spend my time helping others, but I think data driven design and, and like the principles of creating momentum, creating value, trying to stay ahead of the client, using data, to stay more efficient and save people's time and save people money and give them a good work product.

That's kind of my way of, um, getting, getting that sense of helping others and making a difference in other people's lives. Now, granted, I'm getting paid for that, but. Um, I believe the reason why I'm good at it is because that's what I'm passionate about. And then that allows me to get paid for it. Um, so.

Yeah. From, from a spirituality standpoint, it's less about religion and it's more about just kind of, uh, feeling fulfilled, you know, achieving personal fulfillment. Sure. 

Joseph: [01:06:56] I appreciate that answer a lot and I wanted to share my perspective on it because I thought you would find this interesting. So while I don't have like a spreadsheet or anything to, to that, um, level of , meticulosity is a word.

That I might've just invented right then and there, uh, I did say if I'm going to have a, uh, a relationship with a higher power, it had to be tangible. It had to be some, there had to be some way that I could have more of a good, pragmatic or practical approach to it. I didn't like the idea I was raised in the Catholic church.

I didn't like the idea of just like going to church every Sunday, paying my dues to, to God and feeling like God was going to give me a super power. So by the time I'm 30, well, it just didn't work out for me that way. Uh, but what I did look into was that we have something very difficult to quantify five, regardless of, uh, uh, food tries, which is our, our dream state.

I think for anybody, with any spiritual bent has the opportunity to commune with. Either a facsimile of a higher power to prepare us for when we actually meet with the higher power or the higher power actually pays a visit. And then if you look at how to achieve quality dreams, it's all it all lines up with living a good life.

Be healthy, get good sleep. Of course, uh, mitigate your stress, uh, feel like you're really doing the right thing. Uh, avoid substance abuse. And then just be know and try to, and just try to be centered and you'll have more quality sleep and you'll have more quality dreams. And over the years, people have had enormous takeaways.

Um, if you watch like a cosmos, a spacetime Odyssey, one of the first episodes, one of the, uh, one of the early discovers, he had this whole blueprint given to him through, through dreams. So that's where I kinda like try to mesh the two, um, Because at least that's something that we actually encounter. And I actually have an experience with, uh, rather than something that's too out of, out of our grasp or out of our reach, that's something that I can at least like wake up and be like, well, I just had like a, a wild ride back there.

Someone is trying to tell me something and, and, and that's, uh, and that's all I'll say about that. 

Paul Hickey: [01:09:00] Yeah. It's super interesting. I, I, I can relate to what you just said. I think that, and I've noticed. I don't spend a lot of time consuming, like books or podcasts or anything, but I do occasionally. And when I do, it's usually along the lines of what entrepreneur am.

I most interested in hearing their story. Um, those kinds of like inspirational sort of self-made, um, stories. And I've noticed a common thread there that. Kind of resonates with what you just said, which is whether they meditate or whether they work out or whether they, you know, like you said, avoid substance abuse, uh, eat, eat his particular diet, like whatever it is that keeps them centered and focus.

Usually it's like all of those things, um, They, um, there seems to be a commonality among sort of self-made entrepreneur business people, um, along those lines. And so, yeah, I think it's an interesting question and interesting to hear your take on it too. 

Joseph: [01:10:00] I appreciate that. And, and I hope our listeners, uh, will also, uh, consider this as well.

And mind you for those who listened to every episode so far, it's not the first time I brought it up, but, uh, it means a lot to us because it's, it, it goes, it goes deep into, you know, into our gut and into our psyche and. If we, um, I mean these entrepreneurs, they do it for their, for their reasons. And now they're all they're doing.

They're doing fantastic. So what I, what I think is also keen about it is that the results vary, but the methods are consistent, good health, good sleep, um, meditating, eat good food. People have different goals and different motivations as to why they do it. And they end up where they end up. So that's, to me, that's probably the most fascinating takeaway, even just talking to about her right now, is that.

A lot of different people have different reasons for doing it. Some people are just completely atheistic. They have no spiritual bent whatsoever and that's, and that's cool, but the, but the method is the same for them as it is for a wacko like me. So it's, it's just something great to think about. And with that, We are going to get you on out of here.

Uh, Paula Hickey, this has been a blast. Thank you so much for your time. If you want to share any parting words of wisdom and answer to a question I forgot to ask, this is the chance to do it, and then let people know how they can get engaged with your work and how they can reach out to you as well. 

Paul Hickey: [01:11:14] Yeah. Thanks so much for having me on Joseph. I would say that if you are thinking about your career, regardless of your experience or your age, you can totally do. What I've done in my career, I am 100% self-taught and I'm also putting my documentation of how my best documentation of how I got to where I am today, specifically with being a web developer and, uh, e-commerce marketing.

If you will, at woo commerce university.com. Um, I think that's a great place for anybody to come learn the skills of WordPress web design. Uh, e-commerce marketing. Um, so woo commerce university.com. And if you want to get in touch with me, um, Paul, add data-driven dot design. Just send me an email. It's the best, best place to get my attention.

And I, I reply to every email. So I'd love to help you out. 

Joseph: [01:12:12] All right. Fantastic. Well, listeners, uh, thanks once again for participating in this, in your own way, you have my gratitude for you for your time and for, and for listening to us, Paul, you have my gratitude as well. Once more. And with that, we're going to get on outta here.

So take care and we'll check in soon. 

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