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    Thursday, September 02, 2004

    Please enlighten me... again

    Two months have passed since I kicked off a website redesign project for a client near Hartford. The new site is going live next week and everyone seems happy with the results. Although that's a good starting point, only time will tell if the redesign will attract new potential customers for the technology firm. During the course of the project, I introduced search engine optimization techniques to the client in hopes of stirring some interest about the importance of maintaining a highly visible (and, when it comes right down to it: popular) website.

    However search engine optimization alone won't improve a website long-term if you don't know anything about your visitors. So the redesign project also included the necessary step of finding the best web analytics solution. Once you couple search engine optimization with historical data of who's visiting your site, how they got there, where they enter, where they exit, how long they stay, and what they're doing when they visit, you have a more well-rounded view of your website's efficacy and the weak spots you need to improve.

    I've had hands-on experience only with WebTrends. It's a powerful tool, but maybe overkill for what's needed considering the client has had no website statistics up to this point. After some initial research, I started asking around for feedback on the best tool. Very reputable firms like 37signals suggested HitBox Professional which operates on a monthly (no contract) basis and aside from including some client-side code in the webpages, all the stats are run off their servers rather than installing a bulky solution locally. Not bad. Plus the parent company WebSideStory has been around since 1996 (i.e., forever) which is impressive given what they do.

    So I'm thinking HitBox (with no license/contract commitment at $34.95/month) is the way to proceed. But I wanted first to see if you've had any experience with this sorta thing, and if so, what would you recommend?

    Dank ewe veddy mush.