Big Data

It's a hit! HitBox Professional for clickstream analysis

Traffic analysis can do more than just report how many people are visiting your site. HitBox Professional from WebSideStory can provide visitor statistics that help your entire enterprise.


HitBox Professional, a Web site traffic analyzer from WebSideStory, offers a clean, well-designed, and easy-to-use interface that will help you organize your data for effectively directing your site’s traffic. I realize that sounds like an advertisement, but that’s how impressed I am with the latest release of this WebSideStory product.

HitBox Professional

Vendor: u WebSideStory
Highs:
Impressive data sets, excellent presentation
Lows: Dependent on JavaScript being enabled
Price: Starts at $29.95 per month



Hit or miss?
HitBox Professional can track clickstream data from HTML or Flash Web sites and can even accommodate secure portions of your site, where many other products in this arena fear to tread. In addition, I had no problems tracking clicks through dynamically generated pages and pages with various extensions.

The data views this tool offers are incredible. With a Flash interface and the capability to export reports into various formats, results are clear and you can look at your traffic from any angle imaginable. It even provides a few reports that are lacking from other tools, including information about screen resolution, color palettes, cookies, JavaScript, Java settings, and available browser plug-ins—all valuable information for your site design needs.

My favorite feature, though, is the clickstream data report, referred to as the navigation path. The display clearly shows the progression users take from one page to the next, in order of most frequent path (Figure A). I've worked with other products that perform analysis of this type, and HitBox’s display is by far the easiest for getting immediately useful information.

Figure A
Clickstream view


In addition to those features, HitBox Professional offers top-notch e-commerce tracking capabilities (Figure B). Information about the number of orders, amount of revenue generated, and various digests of that data showing per page and overall totals are available and easily configurable.

Figure B
Commerce tracking


For large static sites, configuring HitBox could take some effort. JavaScript code supplied by WebSideStory must be included on each page, and variables need to be configured for identifying information. Commerce confirmation pages require additional variables for revenue tracking information, which would have to be generated on the fly. Once you’re up and running, however, the statistical information is well worth the integration investment.

It gets better
This application offers a consolidated view through a single interface of all the statistical information you could want from your site. There are dozens of views and separate areas of analysis to look through, report creation capabilities, and enterprise relevant information to facilitate marketing and sales department initiatives. Figure C shows one type of analysis—a graphical representation of the frequency of user visits called the Loyalty Index.

Figure C
Chart showing user loyalty


With such a great product, I was expecting the price to be off the board. But HitBox Professional charges affordable monthly fees based on traffic—$29.95 per month for up to 50,000 page views, and 60 cents per thousand page views after that. With all of the analysis time saved by using this tool, and the guesswork about traffic and audience it eliminates, the cost is absolutely worth it.

What about the cons?
I try to point out any downsides to products I review. But frankly, dependence upon JavaScript and cookies to track traffic information isn’t enough of a detraction to stop any serious site from using this product. HitBox Professional is a refreshing high point in quality and service, and I have no qualms about recommending it to anyone who needs to learn more about their traffic and user base.

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