David Housman

The Myth of the Usable Analytics Platform


Web analysts aren’t grown in laboratories, or assembled from the body parts of business analysts, product managers, and front end developers. Web Analysts are collectors and curators of a precious resource- but the data belongs to the company, not to us.

Omniture SiteCatalyst is the kazoo of the analytics world: everyone should be able to pick one up and play a tune.

Traditional Web Analytics is a data source surrounded by people. But have you ever asked someone to use a web browser and read aloud while you sat next to them? Probably not. Analytics platforms invite participation from people with domain experience. Business stakeholders are motivated. Business users need web analytics. Good analytics programs tap the potential of their stakeholders.

Here are some things you can do to make your analytics program distributed:

  1. Build usable systems. Implement the help cards on variables and metrics. Use terminology that your stakeholders understand. Customize the navigation down to the specific needs and interests of individual user types. I hide the reports the user does not need or that are confusing.
  2. Training. Classroom training just isn’t enough. Successful programs will incorporate other forms of engagement, such as tutoring, interest-based training sessions, & etc.
  3. Document. Generate documentation on how to generate reports. I am especially impressed by the use of graphics in fast and easy to read instruction manuals.
  4. Shortcuts and bookmarks. A report takes 5 minutes to generate will be used less than a report that takes 1 minute to generate. Commonly used (or difficult to generate) reports should be bookmarked. Expert users should have easy access to the reports that are used frequently.

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