Apps

Know your users: Web analytics tools

Here are tips on how to get good web analytics data and use it to find out more about how users are interacting with your website.

Volumes have been written on web analytics not to mention the subtopics of interest including Google Analytics, performance, and SEO, which also use web analytics for optimization analysis.

One of the best ways to gauge your website's effectiveness, performance, and customer satisfaction can be found right inside the measurements that analytics reveal:

  • the number of interactions
  • page views
  • where visitors are coming from to get to your sites
  • where they go once they reach your site.

Analytics can also tell you what devices visitors are using, their operating systems, geographic locations, and other demographics that can give you a good picture of how folks are interacting with your online presence. If you are not sure about the ins and outs of web analytics, you might want to take a look at Andrew Maier's guide to web analytics and measurements.

This quick post includes a short review of two useful web analytics tools, Google Analytics and Crazy Egg. While Google Analytics is free, the premium customized version does have a fee based on individual requirements, and Crazy Egg has packages that range from $9 to $99 per month, billed annually.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is probably the best free source for detailed statistics and measurements for tracking usage data and web traffic. The menu of tools includes analysis tools, content analytics, social analytics, mobile analytics, conversion analytics, and advertising analytics. If you want customized analytics, the Premium version allows you to take advantage of customized analysis features.

For developers, you can also integrate the Google Analytics Developers platform to create your own business measurements and track interactions across various devices and environments with user centric analytics, data integration, and customized key performance indicators (KPIs). Once you add your websites and configure what you want Google Analytics to measure, all you need to do is copy a chunk of code configured for the particular websites that you want tracked, and then that code will send back the discovered information to the Google analytics servers, which in turn starts and continues to build data on your websites' user interactions.

Crazy Egg

The four packages available from Crazy Egg range from $9 per month for the "Basic" starting-out option to the full-featured "Pro" edition for $99 per month, and all are billed annually. Probably the most popular feature, which is available with all packages is the "Heatmap Report" tool, which provides a visual identification of the most popular areas on a given page.

The heatmap is a visualization of where your visitors are clicking, the brighter the area, the more popular it is, and the darker the area, the less popular it is. As a specific area of your site gets more clicks, its color on the heatmap will change. An example heatmap is displayed in Figure C:

Other features include a Scrollmap Tool that helps you to see which parts of your pages are working and which ones are not; it shows how far down the page people are scrolling and helps determine where visitors abandon the page. With the Overlay Tool, you will be able to see the number of clicks on each element of your page. Crazy Egg also requires that you insert a chunk of code into your web pages that you wish to have tracked; typically, it needs to be added just below or at the bottom of the footer section. Also, each package is available for a 30-day free trial

Get started

Both of these web analytics tools offer good insight into where and how your visitors interact with your websites. And in just a few minutes of setting your configurations and then copying a chunk of code, you can start your way to gathering valuable web analysis data, which will help you shape your websites based on how users interact with your online presence.

About

Ryan has performed in a broad range of technology support roles for electric-generation utilities, including nuclear power plants, and for the telecommunications industry. He has worked in web development for the restaurant industry and the Federal g...

3 comments
Ana Lia
Ana Lia

I haven't use crazy egg yet and thanks for the information that you shared about these 2 web analytics tool. I also found several reviews about other web analytics tool in http://www.userreviews.org/apps/category/analytics and I hope you find the reviews in here useful. There quite informative about each tool.

Marios Zindilis
Marios Zindilis

I haven't had a chance to try this one, but Piwik is open source and free for self-hosted analytics, with optional paid-for hosted versions. Check out piwik.org.

dfields
dfields

Log-based solutions (e.g. awstats) are superior to script based solutions (e.g. google). Traffic and Bandwidth statistics will be exactly as they happen on the server. Script-based analyzers only record data from pages that have the tracking code. Moreover, since the tracking code uses JavaScript, browsers with java disabled, or cookies disabled, will not be recorded. Not to mention you will need to manaully insert the code into each page