Analysis on the doorstep!

I think it’s fair to say that the analysis of web traffic is a somewhat neglected aspect of our service. Whilst we endeavour to use web stats to inform decisions regarding the usability and information for our website I certainly feel we could/should do a lot more with the information. The difficulty has always been with regard to “lack of available resources” and as a consequence search engine optimisation and web statistics analysis is always on our ‘wish’ rather than ‘to do’ lists.

Thanks to Google Analytics though I’m now confident we can do a lot more with less. We’ve been using the Google Analytics tool for several months and it’s providing some really useful data about the behaviour of our users. Whilst we have used a stats package for many years, Google Analytics gives us more comprehensive data in a much more usable format.

As has been the case for many years the majority of our users come directly to our site or by typing “edge hill” (or a variant of) through the Google search engine. In one sense that’s a positive – in terms of marketing and PR – people know about us and look for us so they come to the site for more information. On the other hand though we could certainly improve our web marketing to ensure that more users find their way to the course provision listed on the Edge Hill website without directly looking for us. Whilst we structure content to facilitate this the statistics provided by Google Analytics do help us identify areas for improvement.

Internally we have been discussing some of these issues for a while and work is on-going to utilise the information provided to inform future marketing campaigns (both on and off-line). So an email from Mike this morning stating that a new and even better version of Google Analytics was on it’s way was very welcome!

I’ve had a look at the demo for the new product and I’m very impressed. The new version appears to offer a much greater level of functionality and my favourite bit – automated reports. The ability to customise and automate reports will be extremely useful for us as without a dedicated resource to plough through information it’s always an onerous task. The Google Analytics blog gives details of the new features and expected release . In a resource limited team and in an increasingly competitive environment, I for one will look foward to trying it out.

3 thoughts on “Analysis on the doorstep!

  1. Interesting to see that you’re using Google Analytics, as this is something that I’ve just started investigating myself.

    Server-side packages such as AWStats and Analog are powerful, but utterly user unfriendly – I shiver at the thought of pointing our college Marketing department to raw Analog output – so the friendly, easy to navigate interfaces of packages such as GA or Mint (haveamint.com) are a godsend. They mean that I can just leave Marketing people to ponder the results directly, without me having to interpret or convert them.

    However, there is one big drawback to these technologies – their dependence on Javascript. How do you account for those users from overly locked-down PCs or mobile devices?

  2. The proportion of PCs with JavaScript turned off has decreased as it’s become a more stable language and people have started to find real uses for it – Gmail, Google Maps and other Ajax based services wouldn’t run without it.

    Using Google Analytics doesn’t prevent you from using other statistical analysis of the logs – we still run AWStats on many sites, and I often go digging in the raw log files to find obscure bits of information.

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