Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Gauging the Success of Your Web Site

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Gauging the Success of Your Web Site

Article excerpt

How do you know you're doing a good job and discover which areas need improving? If you're an employee, it can be through performance reviews. If you run a publication, it can be through readership surveys or focus group studies. And if you're a Webmaster, it can be through Web analytics.

Web analytics is a way to measure and optimize Web site performance, says Jason Burby, director of Web analytics for ZAAZ Inc., a Web design and development firm in Seattle with a countrywide client base.

Since Burby's job is all about Web analytics, you would expect him to be gung-ho about it, and he is. On a personal basis, he likens it to using Evite . This is a useful, free Web service that makes it easy to send out party and other invitations and, interestingly, track and optimize their success.

Along with sending out your invitation via e-mail, Evite lets you see who has viewed the message and who hasn't and how many people have responded with a yes, no or maybe. It can also prompt you to send a follow-up e-mail to those who haven't responded by a certain number of days before the event or phone those who haven't viewed the invitation or responded to it.

In Web analytics parlance, Evite lets you track the performance of your invitations, and it can increase your party's "conversion rate," that is, the percentage of people you reach out to who consequently show up.

Many Web sites have similar performance goals, particularly those used for business purposes. You may use your site for generating leads, selling products or reducing costs. Regardless of whether your site is commercial or hobby-oriented, you typically want to encourage visitors to make their way to its various areas.

Web analytics can help you meet these goals by giving you insights on what visitors are doing at your site and whether they're doing what you want them to do.

Many organizations have Web analytic tools, says Burby, but they may be hidden away in the IT department. Sometimes the tools are used merely to generate statistics, with the data not making it into the hands of those who can use it.

The two best-known commercial Web analytic tools are WebTrends and SiteCatalyst . Burby uses both.

The cost of using WebTrends or SiteCatalyst depends on the size of your site and how detailed the information you want, with fees ranging from $35 per month for small businesses to $150,000 or more for a Fortune 2000 company site license. …

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