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Q: Choosing a web analystics program ( Answered,   2 Comments )
Subject: Choosing a web analystics program
Category: Computers > Internet
Asked by: coreymegan-ga
List Price: $200.00
Posted: 03 Dec 2005 11:12 PST
Expires: 02 Jan 2006 11:12 PST
Question ID: 600958
I need help selecting a web analytics solution.

My company has a website that consists of tens of thousands of pages.
Each page is similar in format (think eBay) and we want to be able to
track certain things about how users interact with the site (as a
whole) and with individual pages. We?d like to be able to generate
reports that are by the page, and be able to share those reports with
the person who built that page (think eBay again).

The goal of this question is to find a solution that
1. meets every requirement with an asterisk below
2. has a good reputation
3. is really cheap
4. offers features that aren?t noted with an asterisk

(in that order)

The best answer will survey a bunch of relevant solutions (with
websites and prices if available) and then rank them. Given the
current shakeup in pricing in the analytics world, I?m particularly
interested in what subset of our features we can get from free or
nearly free alternatives.

Dashboards make it easy to focus on the metrics that are important to the
business. Some providers offer customized dashboards, some have canned

*Custom Reports
Custom reports can be generated through the reporting interface or set up to
be delivered via email.  Some tools only offer a set of predefined reports
and don't have this capability. Some tools allow you to export to an
application like Excel to do custom analysis (and automatically update the
data). A good solution provides an ability to turn the raw data into
something we can manipulate (either a feed or a delineated data file)

*Search Tracking
We need to know what people are searching for and the outcomes of
those searches. A bonus is a tool that is able to follow the
clickstream even further, and determine, for example, which searches
are more likely to lead to certain outcomes (like clickouts)

+Content Categories
This is an ?also liked? feature. For example, it could tell us that
people who visited page A were three times likelier to visit page B

Segmentation allows you to analyze the behavior of users by a set of
characteristics.  Some products offer pre-configured segments (e.g "New vs.
Returning visitors"), while others allow you to create your own (e.g. "users
who looked at pogo sticks" or "email campaign responders").

Trending allows you to track how much key metrics have changed over time.
Some tools allow you to track trends in a few metrics, while other tools
allow virtually all metrics to be compared in this fashion. The winner
gives us good flexibility in this area.

*Page Overlays
These overlays show user activity on a particular page by overlaying metrics
such as number of clicks, conversions, conversion value, percent of clicks,
etc. This is used, for example, to track the effectiveness of specific
interface elements on a page.

+Reporting API
Reporting API's support the ability to pull analytics data into a custom
application. We don?t need an API if we can get a delimited file on a regular basis

+Path analysis
Path analysis is tracking how users progress through the site.

+Form Abandonment
Form abandonment shows you what percent of users who started a form actually
completed it, and where on that form they were when they left.

Thanks so much for a swift reply. We're counting on you!

Request for Question Clarification by webadept-ga on 06 Dec 2005 07:58 PST

The one thing just about every one of these programs has in common is
that they depend on the web server's logs to gather the bulk of the
reported information from. Some programs work best on Apache logs,
some on Microsoft logs. Some of the programs do not run off the server
logs, they use a "call back" function (normally JavaScript) embedded
in the code of the page to call the watcher analytics program.

Which of these types would you prefer to use? Are you able (I'm
betting yes, but  I want to make sure) to add "call back" functions to
all of your pages?


Clarification of Question by coreymegan-ga on 08 Dec 2005 11:23 PST
I think we favor the script-based solutions over the log-based, because the
data is stored elsewhere (and we're going to have tons of data).

This decision is based on performance, but accessible, configurable data
must be available so that we can create our own custom reports.

But, our real criteria, aside from what we previously mentioned, is that the
solution is quick & responsive AND the data is extensible.  We will consider
any solutions that meet that and our other stated criteria.

Clarification of Question by coreymegan-ga on 08 Dec 2005 11:23 PST
and, to be specific, we can add a call back to each page

Request for Question Clarification by webadept-ga on 11 Dec 2005 23:20 PST
Sorry to keep you waiting so long for this, I didn't notice your reply
right away. Script Call backs are usually better in the long run as
you can add them to sections of pages, and links, and get very
creative with the reporting abilities.

The commentor below has mentioned the Google Analytics which I run on
my own sites; the only problem with it right now is that they aren't
taking in new accounts at the present time.

So, now that I see your reply I'll finish up the research and post an
answer for you soon.


Subject: Re: Choosing a web analystics program
Answered By: webadept-ga on 13 Dec 2005 15:34 PST
Hi again, 

Here are four very good Analytic solutions with links to 6 others
reviewed by Network Computing.

" One of the key product differentiators for HBX is that it can import
data from the data warehouse to a customized Excel template using the
"Report Builder," which is a Visual Basic Excel plug-in. I'm not
partial to VB plug-ins, but it works well, though some actions caused
odd results. This feature, though somewhat difficult to master, makes
it possible for an organization to customize how it sees the traffic
data and can automate the creation of otherwise labor-intensive custom
views for business managers. The regular browser interface is
well-designed and offers something for everyone. HBX conducts
Web-based training classes every Friday that any client can join. The
class is an excellent introduction, and I love that it happens
regularly. It's great to see what kinds of questions users from other
companies are asking."
Review for WebsideStory's HBX Analytic solution

" Omniture's SiteCatalyst system offers something for all analysts,
from the stats guru to the novice. The interface is easy to navigate
and lets you quickly cross-reference different data points. For
instance, in a report of the most popular URLs, you can right-click on
any one listed to identify the top referrers to that URL. The
dashboards are convenient and can be converted to any imaginable
format. The admin interface is much better than any of the other
products'. It lets you see who's using the system and what they are
doing. One drawback is that reports load slowly on dial-up. The speed
is acceptable on a cable modem or DSL.

All-around good analytics, outstanding ease of use and strong support
helped SiteCatalyst just nudge out WebSideStory's HBX. Part of
Omniture's marketing pitch is that it hasn't lost a customer in eight
years of business, which is impressive. But Web analytics is evolving
quickly and far from mature, so the company should avoid resting on
its laurels.";jsessionid=H4CKCTMBENXRQQSNDBCCKHSCJUMEKJVN?articleID=20003001&pgno=2
Review for Omniture's SiteCatalyst System

" The SurfAid interface includes a query tool that enables creation of
custom reports on the fly for stats fiends and several point-and-click
reports for novice users. The interface is fast, simply designed and
well-organized, but it doesn't cater to users who need guidance for
more in-depth analysis. This tool would be great for companies that
centralize Web site analytics.

Because it comes from Big Blue, we thought SurfAid might be somewhat
unwieldy, but we needn't have worried. The service responded nimbly,
and we found features and functions without having to plow through Red
Books or those eye-drooping architecture documents.

LinkTracker, IBM's browser-overlay view, is new. Like its rivals,
LinkTracker showed us a number of clicks, ranked with percentages of
total clicks and views. Typical of SurfAid, the defaults for the
LinkTracker application are exposed and can be changed easily. For
example, we set the ranking based on activity since the previous day,
from the start of that day to the most recent five minutes. HBX and
SiteCatalyst present real-time data, but not with this granularity. As
with the other products, the translucent browser view is accompanied
by configurable graphs and tables that show overall site traffic."
Review on IBM's SurfAid Analytics

" This product is one of the best. The support engineers understand
analytics and give wonderful advice. Drawbacks include difficulty
navigating between data among Web sites and combining data across
multiple Web sites. I attended a regional user group session where
users get together and talk about their experiences. These sessions
are fun and useful, and not opportunities for the consultants who host
these sessions to do sales pitches. Service throughout the trial was
excellent. This product can be run in-house, which is a great benefit
for companies like financial institutions, for whom data security is a
top priority.

NetIQ's venerable WebTrends is offered as a service, which may
surprise some. NetIQ's history of log analysis has pigeonholed the
company and is aggressively used by competitors to brand it as "old"
and for "small and simple" installations only. That's just plain
inaccurate. NetIQ has branched out to offer small business-centric log
analysis, tag-based JavaScript products and the service we tested,
WebTrends On Demand. WTOD's maturity shows in its documentation, help
and support. The company has a large installed base, active user
groups in most cities and well-written documentation that has been
polished over the years. "
Review on NetIQ WebTrends

The article that each of these are reviewed from also lists six others
which did not measure up as well as these four.

I will let you know that it might be wise to look into Goolge's
Analytics System when it becomes available. I don't see much that you
can't do with the system that these four offer. You are able to
download all of your data, so that you can easily create custom
reports in Excel or something like Crystal Reports.

I don't know when Google Analytics will be open for new accounts, of
even if they will, but keeping an eye on them might be a wise

thanks, and Happy Holidays

Subject: Re: Choosing a web analystics program
From: nhd-ga on 09 Dec 2005 12:07 PST
I'm no expert on the topic, but have you checked out Google Analytics?
It's free and based on Urchin Software, which Google acquired in March. 
It could, at the very least, be a step in the right direction, as
Google will be offering a paid version of Urchin 6 software in 2006.

Here's the link if you wanted to check it out: 
Subject: Re: Choosing a web analystics program
From: coreymegan-ga on 18 Dec 2005 18:30 PST
this answer was a lot less than we expected, but we want to give you
better feedback about what we need to make it a great answer. Please
hang on for a day or so.


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