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Narrative Reports vs. Dashboards

A Deconstructed Web Analytics Report Shows What the Dashboard Missed

1.29.13


We can all agree that in 2013 web analytics is still a nightmare, right?

The last few years have brought about an enormous expansion in the top of the web analytics information overload funnel, and today I can discover just about any aspect of my web traffic that piques my curiosity.

I know how much traffic I'm getting, who told them to come here, how they got here, how long they're staying, what they're looking at, what they're using to look at it, where they're from, and just about anything else I want to know about them. If I don't like what I'm looking at, I can customize everything from my dashboard to reports to parameters within those reports.

What none of this tells me is how I can be more successful at turning the words I put on the Internet into dollars in my pocket.

Now, I know what you're thinking: “It's all there! More information than you could ever figure out what to do with.”

The problem with that is that it's all there. It's more information than I could ever figure out what to do with. I'm not a web analytics analyst; I run a business, and I don't have the time or inclination to try to find and pay someone to tell me something that reactive. If I could get the guy who does all those Google Panda updates to analyze my web stats, I'd pay him. But he's probably way too busy trying to make sure no one ever comes to my website.

Web analytics still feels like there are still dozens of unwritten rules that can dramatically change the course of your entire revenue stream. I'm constantly worried that if I shift one pixel or use too many or not enough buzzwords that my traffic and ad revenue will plummet into a hole that I'll never be able to dig out of.

Furthermore, these concerns are not unwarranted. I can't tell you how many times my traffic has reached what I was convinced was a new plateau, only to — for seemingly no reason whatsoever — drop right back to where it was before the plateau started. My SEO friends tell me things like “Google did something to the search algorithms, go look at (insert acronym here) and see if that changed.” And when I finally find that acronym and it has or hasn't changed, I still don't know what to do.

It's broken.

Let's take a look at an example.

read the rest at: http://strata.oreilly.com/2013/01/narrative-reports-vs-dashboards.html


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