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Implement OpinionLab "O" to track Web site visitor feedback

Web developers are often required to monitor the usage metrics of the sites they design, and OpinionLabs' OnlineOpinion product can simplify this task. Find out how to acquire and implement a trial version of the "O" software.


Tracking Web site visitor feedback and analyzing trends has become especially crucial, as the Web often serves as the first level of customer contact and support in many industries. Building this type of system from scratch is a daunting task, but thankfully, many off-the-shelf products are available today. One such product is OpinionLab's OnlineOpinion product, also known as "O."

Downloading "O"
A 14-day trial of "O" is available for download from the OpinionLab Web site. The first step in accessing a trial copy is registration. Selecting Login opens the Login page shown in Figure A.

Figure A


The next step is to click the More link beside the option Need To Create An Id And Password? under the Support section. This opens the Download "O" page, shown in Figure B.

Figure B


For our purposes here, we'll select the standard version of "O." It includes the following files:
  • onlineopinion.js contains the Javascript file integral to tying a site to the OnlineOpinion system.
  • include.txt contains the code to be inserted in a Web page.
  • o_ief.html is a hidden I-frame preventing a page from refreshing every time a visitor uses the OnlineOpinion Comment Card.
  • activate26.html is the Web page where a Web site is activated.
  • readme.html contains installation instructions.

Clicking Next advances to the signup page, shown in Figure C. Here, you complete the usual information and then click Submit. The OpinionLab licensing agreement will then appear. Agree to the licensing agreement and click Download to initiate downloading OnlineOpinion to your local hard drive.

Figure C


After saving OnlineOpinion.zip on your local hard drive, you must unzip it. A new directory called oinstall is created containing the OnlineOpinion files to be installed on the Web server.

Prerequisites for installing "O"
The good news about "O" is that it's vendor agnostic. You can install it on a UNIX or Windows machine running any of today's popular Web servers.

To properly install the product, you need the following access to the Web server:
  • Root directory access to upload a directory of OnlineOpinion files to the root directory of the server
  • Access to the Web page files to insert JavaScript into them

Configuring and implementing "O"
Copy the onlineopinion directory from your local drive and the oinstall directory to the root level of your Web server. Next, open the Include.txt file in your text editor or HTML editor of choice. Figure D shows the contents of Include.txt.

Figure D


OpinionLab recommends that you include the Include.txt file needs on all pages on your Web site. You can simply cut and paste Include.txt into the HTML document. OpinionLab suggests that you place Include.txt below your final body and HTML tags.

Activating "O"
After uploading the onlineopinion directory to your Web server's root directory and adding Include.txt to your Web pages, you must activate your OnlineOpinion implementation. This activation links your Online Opinion ratings in the OpinionLab database to your subscriber ID/password. Activation is necessary before you can access any of OnlineOpinon's online reports.

To activate OnlineOpinion, enter your_Web_site_URL>/onlineopinion/activate26.html in your Web browser. The OnlineOpinion account activation page appears, as shown in Figure E.

Figure E


Enter the temporary subscriber ID and password you received via e-mail when you downloaded the software. You can use the same subscriber ID and password for multiple sites.

If your organization already has an active Web customer service element, you can enter a customer service e-mail address. This e-mail link will appear on your comment card as a way for your users to send e-mail directly to your customer service organization. OnlineOpinion transmits no rating data to this address. If you leave this field blank, no link will appear on your comment card.

Accessing reports
Reports are the heart of the OnlineOpinion solution. To access your reports, select Login from the OpinionLab Web site to open the login page. If you are logging in to the OpinionLab site for the first time, you must change your temporary password.

Select Log In to open the OpinionLab Web site client area, shown in Figure F.

Figure F


From the client area, you can access the following options:
  • Reporting
  • Configure
  • Edit User Info
  • Upgrade "O"
  • Purchase Lite Products

Figure G shows the Reporting page of the client area.

Figure G


Since this is a trial version, only the 24/7 metric is available to you. The 24/7 metric page offers these options:
  • Report start and end date
  • Page specification options based upon file path, ratings, comments, and average rating
  • Report review, enabling report visualization, saving a report as a zip file, report scheduling, and report deletion

Figure H shows the 24/7 metric tool's user interface.

Figure H


Test drive "O"
The trial lasts for 14 days. An OpinionLab sales representative will contact you to gauge your interest in purchasing the product. I suggest experimenting with the 24/7 metrics to assess its value in determining your Web site visitor feedback. OpinionLab is also expanding its product lineup beyond "O," so you may want to keep an eye on future offerings.

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