Your Web Site Must Have Some Sort of Analytics

I know that this is starting to sound like a broken record.  But in the past week, I’ve spoken with three prospective clients, none of which have any knowledge of whether they have any sort of Analytics software monitoring their web site’s traffic.

This is irresponsible on both the customer’s end AND the web developer’s end.  There should be software monitoring the site traffic.  The customer should know it exists. 

And the customer ACTUALLY should be using it to assess how and what their web site is doing.

I’m not going to absolve ourselves from being guilty of this irresponsibility in the past as well.  We have always set up some sort of log analysis, and for a decade we sent that information to clients on at least an annual basis, and for a long time, a monthly basis. 

But the information was vague, inconclusive, sometimes inaccurate, depending on the analysis software used, and clients didn’t find it interesting and there wasn’t much tangible beyond most visited pages, quality links and search terms for the site to distinguish.  After a while we only sent it out for those who requested it.  And it was only a minority who requested it.

But with the advent of Google Analytics several years ago, that changed.  First of all, web sites are not dependent on resident server software – and therefore limited by the sometimes pathetic software provided by the server farm company – in order to generate data.  Second of all, it’s free.  Finally, the data available is much deeper and useful now.

In late 2010 and early 2011 we set up Google Analytics accounts for all our existing clients, and we do the same for all new clients.  We set up a few reports to send out monthly to clients automatically for their reference.  When we come up upon renewal with our web development clients, we send several different annual reports and discuss the trends, opportunities, and problems that the data may indicate.

And that’s probably the minimum that a client should absorb concerning their web site’s traffic.  We also provide our clients with direct access to their Analytics account so they can review at ANY time their data, so they can set up custom reports if they wish. 

Web developers should provide this to their continuing clients.

Web site clients should require it from their web development partner.

And there shouldn’t be a mystery of whether an organization’s web site has the capability any longer.