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Brothers Professor Piercy MIST 7500 10 October 2009 Web Analytics & Attractiveness: Applied Social Networking Web Analytics is the gathering and analysis of evidence regarding web usage. This evidence provides the information technology community with performance feedback. However, the feedback is blotchy because links between what users are doing on the web and why are opaque. For example, during Ron Swift's “Web Analytics” presentation he mentions the problem of “The Abandoned Shopping cart,” users visit a web site, add items to their shopping carts', and then leave without making a purchase. This is what users are doing but the question is why? Did their browser or computer malfunction? Were they repulsed by an obnoxious advertisement? All these conclusions are plausible and web analytics is short of making a determination. Nevertheless, the attractiveness, gravitation, and search engine optimality of web artifacts can be determined by applied web analytics. Web analytics gather data using two distinct techniques. The Wikipedia article titled “Web Analytics” labels these techniques as “Log file analysis” and “Page tagging” respectfully. The former negotiates log files on a server and the latter scrutinizes web artifacts delivered to a client. Regardless of the technique, the data is plumbed for information regarding marketing campaign effectiveness, search engine optimization, and user experience. Table 1 lists several web analytics terms that match the plumbing criteria. Is the data gathered by log file analysis more accurate or encompassing than data gathered by page tagging? Both techniques utilize a web analytics data processing engine. This engine is the brains behind every web analytics product. If the data is gathered using log files, then the web analytics data processing engine must analyze these log files and produce reports based on web analytics rules and end-user configuration. If the data is gathered from JavaScript clients then the web

Brothers 2 analytics data processing engine must process data stored from XML HTTP request. Also, the web analytics products must be designed to facilitate the integration of future web analytical rules. Table 1: Web Analytics Terms. Term Hits Frequency Event tracking Traffic Geo-location Definition The number of document requests users make with a particular URL. How often visitors come to a website. Monitoring page events in their frequency and succession. Overall web usage and buzz. The location, typically region or state specific, of visitors.

In support of the log file analysis, log files are commonplace in web applications. Application developers have sophisticated logging mechanism that discriminate log messages – messages stored in a log file. Three different levels or types of logging are: debug, error, and information. Log messages for web analytics fit in the information level because they are not used to debug an application nor represent a critical state of an application. These log messages, and therefore the log files, are strictly informative and are formatted for a particular data processing engine. In support of page tagging, the task of integrating web analytics to a project's front-end may only require a single web developer. This developer, having JavaScript development experience, can write JavaScript that tracks page events (clicks, hovers, submits, etc...) and transmits this information to an application that stores it in a database. With this technique, we place our users under scrutiny – monitoring the position of their mouse relative to the page and their interaction with page elements. In the database, you may run queries or use a business reporting tool to generate web analytics reports. Let's look at two enterprise web analytics products; Google Urchin and Google Analytics: each implementing one of the two data gathering techniques I've mentioned. First, I'll discuss Google Urchin. This web analytics product stores data in log files, which are then processed by Urchin's robust log file processing engine – producing reports that provide use with information regarding the key terms I've mentioned in Table 1 and more. During scheduled reporting,

Brothers 3 the log files are then scanned, dissected, and measured for web analytics reporting. Google states, “Urchin Software from Google analyzes traffic for one or more websites and provides easy-tounderstand reports on your visitors - where they come from, how they use your site, what converts them into customers, and much more. “ Fantastic, but Urchin sports a price tag in the neighborhood of $3000.00 and is an in-house web analytic product. This means that one would have to install Google Urchin locally and have to bear the administrative, equipment, and maintenance costs that occur. On the other hand, hosting Urchin allows you to enforce your own security policy without having to modify firewall rules for an external web analytics client. As the saying goes, “Never trust the client.” In this case, one doesn't have to defend themselves from clients afar. The second web analytics product, Google Analytics, is free and implemented as a JavaScript library for its' end-users convenience. Because of this, web developers can easily integrate Google Analytics into existing web artifacts. Google states, “Google Analytics is the enterprise-class web analytics solution that gives you rich insights into your website traffic and marketing effectiveness. “ Since you won't be hosting Google Analytics, the administrative and equipment costs are relieved. However, one may need to adjust their firewall rules as to allow access to the Google analytics domain. Also, if the behavior of Google analytics is spurious you won't have a handle on the situation or even know what's going on. The condition of Google Analytics is in the hands of Google and you'll have to bite your nails and wait out anything critical. Now that we've gone over web analytics product alternatives, how do we use them? I have devised a three-step process for web analytics end-users to take advantage of whatever alternative they choose. First, understand and evaluate the data produced by your web analytics client. The terms mentioned in Table 1 are tantamount to interpreting web analytics reports but there are also many more terms that you should be familiar with depending on your business needs. Since the purpose of this data is to produce web analytics reports, one must understand the rigor and flexibility of this data and configure the web analytics reporting engine to output vital statistics regularly. If we are not concerned

Brothers 4 about the amount of clicks a web artifact is receiving, then the reports should neglect this information. Also, the competitive performance ranking is implicit in the web analytics report and must weigh in on the overall merit of web projects. To summarize this stage, one has to understand the data collected by the web analytics product, configure its’ business reporting engine, and establish goals scoping how the business reports should look and what the performance ranking should be. The second stage involves optimizing your web artifacts to reach these goals and improve performance rankings. The focus of this step is to be creative and use web analytics reports to measure and loosely guide that creativity. Take you time in this stage by reviewing current trends of the web, your business needs, what tone you want to set, and the scope of your web project. By force of habit, you'll develop depth perception as to what works and what does not. If your goals are still not being met, web attractiveness theory, search engine optimization, and search engine marketing are a few avenues that offer advice on ways to make your web project meet your demands. The third step is to maintain the performance ranking of your web project. If you've configured the reporting mechanism in your web analytics product to email its report to your supervisor, he or she will be curious about any curbs or spikes depicted in that report. As a project manager, systems administrator, or developer you'll have to be on top of the situation knowing the cause of any issues and respond with plausible solutions and confidence. In order to do this, one must monitoring web usage and be aware of any radicals such as viruses, spam, and hacks. These radicals may be impeding the performance of you web project and must be alleviated or down right eliminated to maintain an ideal performance ranking. Let's apply the end-user web analytics three-step process described in the preceding paragraph to my blog. Currently, the only web analytical data presented to me is the amount of users who have subscribed to my blog. In order to proceed to step two we must gather more information to determine search engine optimality, hits, and other artifacts specific to my blog. I’ll add the Google Webmaster Tools suite, which will providing us with intermediate web analytics. Figure 1 illustrates a report generated by Google Webmaster Tools regarding my blog. Since I've just started associating Google

Brothers 5 Webmaster Tools the report generated is not meaningful. However, we can see that Google Webmaster Tools is capable of monitoring web artifacts and provides us with information pertinent to the flourishing of our blogs and other web projects. Adding both internal and external links, keywords, and advertisements to blogs is certain to crank up Google Webmaster Tools' data processing engine – aggregating more data and ensuring accurate reports.

Figure 1: Google Webmaster Tools Report If we ask one to design our web site and tell him or her to “Do whatever you want.” the outcome will probably be one of disappointment to say the least. One way to prevent the web designer from completely disappointing you is to give the designer a base design or mock-up limiting the scope of his or her indulgence. Leveraging site templates such as those provided by Google Sites will provide designers with something to expand on while maintaining the underlying aesthetic appeal. Figure 2 showcases templates created by Google Sites. Each template is a different design and makes the same suggestions as aesthetic paradigms: minimalism, detail orientation, emotive, and symbolism suggest.

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Figure 2: Google Site templates The attractiveness of web applications leads us to question its' “,look and feel.” Not only must a web application be attractive it also requires an overall ease of use that facilitates more difficult and complex tasks. With web applications, its our objective to make its' day-to-day use as intuitive as possible. But, what is the difference between a web site and a web application? Can I apply the same templates? The look of a web application may be expanded from templates but the feel cannot be expanded nor guided by templates. A blog is a web site and Blogger is a web application – the look and feel of Blogger must affirm users' frequent use over its competitors Wordpress and Microsoft Word. Blogs typically stick with templates and never use layout managers like their big brother web applications do. EXT JS is a JavaScript framework that accomplishes the task of managing layout -allowing web developers to create rich user interfaces rapidly and levels the playing field amongst the web application's desktop rivals. Figure 3 illustrates some of EXT JS layouts. Here, we are not concerned about aesthetic principles and suggestions so much as making the user experience as intuitive as possible. Notice that panels within EXT JS layouts are empty effectively separating the look of a web application from its feel.

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Figure 3: EXT JS layouts Let's apply what I've discussed about attractiveness to my blog. Figure 4 shows the layout I have chosen. Most blog layouts have a header (Internet Technology – UGA MIT) positioned at the top of the web page, a sidebar (Twitter Updates, Followers,...) positioned at the left or right-hand side of the web page, and content positioned in the center of the web page taking up the most space. Imagine if the sidebar contents were positioned in the center instead of on the left or right-hand side. The user's attention would be draw towards your Twitter updates and Followers instead of your blog posts. Since the user can follow you on Twitter and follow your followers on their blogs, your Blog's focus shouldn't be on the contents in the sidebar but on your blogs. It would also help if I had a face for users to associate my blog with. Being human is what Robert C. Solomon suggests us to do: “Remember you are trying to court the attention of your readers and make your views attractive and appealing.” Will a profile picture, however attractive it may be, make my views more or less attractive?

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Figure 4: My blog In short, web analytics products gather web usage data, feeds this data to a data processing engine, and outputs web analytics reports. End-users configure the engine to generate relevant reports keeping in mind that no configuration avail is able to turn the engine into a crystal ball. Web analytics products are impartial to propositions made in our perception of their generated reports. Therefore, web analytics give us empirical evidence – supporting the truth as we express ourselves on the web.

Brothers 9 Works Cited “Cross Browser Rich Internet Application Framework.” EXT JS . Ext, LLC. 2004-2009 <> “Google Analytics Products Tour.” Google Analytics. Google Inc. 2009 <> “Simple Secure group websites.” Google Sites . Google Inc. 2009 <> “Key Urchin Features.” Google Urchin. Google Inc. 2009 <> “About our stats and data.” Using Webmaster Tools . Google Inc. 2009 <> Solomon, Robert C. The Big Questions: The Rules of Good Writing in Philosophy. California: Wadsworth Group/ Thomson Learning, 2002. “The Abandoned Shopping Cart.” Web Analytics . Swift, Ron. Vice President, Cross Industry Business Solutions. Teradata Corporation. September 2009 "Web Analytics." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 22 July 2004, 10:55 UTC. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 10 Aug. 2004. <>

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