12 June 2007

Web Analytics an Hour a Day: Preliminary Review

On Monday I received my copy of Avinash Kaushik's "Web Analytics: An Hour A Day" published by Sybex. At first glance, it seemed like any other book on analytics you would buy off a shelf in the Geeks and Dweebs section of the local Barnes & Noble. When I opened the book, the first thing that caught my eye was a small box which indicated that all the profits and proceeds of the book were to be donated to two separate medical causes. Aside from my firm belief that the Author is equally as dedicated to the practice of Web Analytics as anyone I know, I am sincerely touched by his strength of character in taking the incentive to provide this much needed source of revenue to respected medicine. Slainte' Avinash...

Avinash seems to have taken the time to pin down the key points of the evolving use of analytics as it applies generally to business. He's built a few systems of thought around the rudimentary ideas which nearly anyone can grasp and developed more complex modes to help coax new ideas. One idea which I particularly enjoyed was his explanation of an idea called a Trinity, commencing on page 15. Using this theme, Kaushik was able to tie together integrated analyses based in Behaviors, Experiences, and Outcomes and how these influence each other.

The central foundation of the Trinity which Avinash discussed is the production and extraction of Actionable Insights and Metrics. For us, this is a simple identification of the low-hanging fruit, or the items which need the most work to perform the satisfactory duty of the page or item for navigation etc. This might be as simple as looking at how clearly defined the navigation is, or how visible our "View Cart" button is.

Based on the Trinity, then, we would find a way to quantify the behavior exhibited by people who had access to that element or were exposed to it. This takes on the chore of asking the question: Of everyone who had the need or opportunity to interact through this provided means, who did or did not use it, and why? In the case of our "View Cart" button on the site, we actually built a custom link in our Omniture Suite, and pair the stats of the collected link executions versus our log files which tell us how many times the item has been presented. We can even go so far as to monetize this button and then compare it to a proposed improvement over similar time lines. When the outcome from the changes made based on the behavior can be clearly correlative, it gets placed in the "experiences" area of the Trinity. These aren't epistles which remain unchanged until the end of time, but the operational relationships which exist for any site at its current and evolving state.

This is only the first of the sections which I read. I enjoyed it very much and I am looking forward to reading and reporting on a great deal more. If you have the means or the gusto to ask the boss, get out and pick up the book. I'm sure you can probably read a great deal of similar insights and news on Avinash's blog, Occam's Razor. (http://www.kaushik.net/avinash/)I'll be continuing my reading and reporting on areas which I think will benefit the useful content of my blog and iterate to people in the practice some of what I was able to get out of the publication.

If anyone wants to open discussion on what I've mentioned here or take some time open up new threads, please feel free to do so here. I will respond when the time allows and does not interfere with my ability to perform the duties responsible for my primary source of income.

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