Need access to real-time traffic and visitor behavior statistics for your or your client’s Web site? You’re not alone.

Monitoring Web-based business processes is vital to the growing number of companies that practice e-business. Organizations with a Web presence need to track how visitors respond to and use their Web sites to make necessary changes and improvements, and a number of larger organizations are turning to Web audience analysis services to perform that research.

TechRepublic recently took a look at HitBox Enterprise v6, a new Web audience analysis service from application service provider (ASP) WebSideStory. Read on to find out how HitBox works, what information it provides, and how to use its cool wireless features.

How it works
WebSideStory claims that HitBox Enterprise v6 can be implemented within a few hours, depending on the depth of the site. And although HitBox services large clients like Microsoft, ESPN, and AT&T, it does offer different versions of the service to meet the needs of smaller sites.

An installation wizard from HitBox places special code in each Web page a client wants to track. The collected information for those pages is then placed onto HitBox servers, thus—according to a company release—saving the client server space and the cost of training and support to run the service.

HitBox Enterprise v6 can even track page-to-page use to see how visitors travel through a site, and it is also able to handle spike in a site’s traffic.

Seeing is believing
HitBox Enterprise v6 offers various categories that can be tracked for as long as a client uses the service. Categories include:

  • ·        Traffic
  • ·        Referrer
  • ·        Visitors
  • ·        Requested content
  • ·        Navigation
  • ·        Pages
  • ·        Customer profiles

HitBox also offers many drill-down opportunities in each category. Examples include:

  • ·        First-time visitors
  • ·        Frequency of visitor returns
  • ·        Visitors’ operating systems
  • ·        Most requested content
  • ·        Search engines used to access the site

Through a Web browser, executives can get an immediate look at statistics in real time. The real-time capability is also an efficient way for consultants to show clients how a new site initiative is working.

HitBox Enterprise v6 excels at data visualization, a popular way to display analytical results. All information is collected into the service’s easy-to-read charts and graphs. As pictured below, HitBox also offers their clients a mouse-over feature that provides a more detailed look at site-traffic data.

Traffic summary pie chart

Traffic summary bar chart

The bar charts allow a client to easily determine how pages are received by visitors. Again, the company offers a mouse-over feature that provides more detailed data.

Mouse-over feature

v6 wireless option standard
By using an Internet browser, a Web phone, or a PalmVII, HitBox clients can get an up-to-the-minute look at visitor behavior patterns. The wireless option for the Palm VII (the Web phone option was not reviewed) makes constantly refreshed statistics accessible from any location. (We tested the “anytime, anywhere” promise of the wireless feature recently in a light aircraft traveling at 6,000 feet, and the Palm VII did indeed connect easily to the service.) In fact, HitBox claims to be the first Web audience analysis tool to use wireless technology.

“Say you’re at lunch with a prospective advertiser. [With HitBox], you could easily verify site traffic levels. If your company launches a major online ad campaign and you are away from the office, you could still monitor the impact of that campaign,” said Erik Bratt, media relations manager for WebSideStory.

“As for IT consultants, they can monitor the status of a client’s site on demand if they are hooked up to HitBox Enterprise. It allows them to be connected to the mothership, so to speak, no matter where they are,” he added.

But although many features are available via the wireless connection, data is available only for the current and previous day. “It is meant as a quick look,” said Bratt.

Data on the Palm VII is presented in a clear and concise manner, but only as numbers, not the easy-to-read pie charts and graphs of the browser version.

Whether you are using the Palm VII or the browser version of HitBox Enterprise, the key is having access to up-to-the-minute site statistics without requesting reports from the IT department. “Instead of hiring people or spending IT resources to generate reports and crunch log files, an executive can look at numbers for themselves, right away,” said Bratt.
Are you using a wireless Web tracking service? Does it help keep you connected to the mothership? Post a comment in the discussion below or drop us a line.