Podcast 21: Working with web stats

Are you getting the most from your web stats? Are they helping you identify areas on your site that require improvement? Marcus and Paul look at how web stats can keep you informed about how users interact with your site.

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Examining the log files stored by your web server can be an incredibly enlightening process if you know what you are looking for. Not only can web statistics show you information about your users (such as their geographical location, their browser, operating system etc) but it can also highlight gaps in your content and usability problems on your site.

In this podcast, we take a closer look at the kind of information available through your web stats and how this information can shape the development of your site.

Web resource review: stats packages

In this weeks show Paul also reviews two great stats package that provide very different services.


Clicktracks is an excellent stats package for those who struggle with graphs and pie charts. Instead of the normal pages of statistical information, this application comes with an integrated web browser. This allows you to surf the site while seeing web stats overlaying each page. This approach gives you a real understanding of how users have moved around your site and it is even possible to tag users and follow the route they took from page to page. Although an excellent usability tool the associated price tag is not cheap, making this only a viable solution for corporate environments.

Read my full review of clicktracks

Visit the clicktracks site

Google Analytics

For those of you on a budget or more comfortable with statistical information, we recommend you check out Google Analytics. This free service from Google provides a wealth of information about your visitors and how they interact with your site. What is more it provides some excellent campaign tracking for those who run online ad campaigns.

Visit the Google Analytics site

Technobuster: AJAX

AJAX is a term often thrown around these days and often with little in the way of explanation. In this weeks podcast Paul and Marcus unpack the term AJAX, explaining what it means and what benefits it brings. However, they also offer some words of warning about the best way to implement it.

  • Might be worth mentioning that Clicktracks provides a HUGE discount to educational establishments, as long as you can cope with the more basic package.

  • With regards to your spot on web statistics, you might be interested in an article I wrote a while back: http://signal7.com.au/article/2/7-ways-to-measure-the-success-of-your-website

  • The flash text replacement technique you described is called sFIR (prenounce ‘siffer’). Which is an acronym for Scalable Inman Flash Replacement.
    You called it FIR which is in fact an abbrevation for Fahrner Image Replacement.

  • Thanks Gerben, you are completely right and thanks for pointing it out. We often wander onto subjects that i havent prepared for in our podcasts and sometimes I am not as good at thinking on my feet as I should be.

  • Wow, I was very shocked that you didn’t mention Mint:
    It’s made by the same guy who created sFIR, the I for Inman . . . Shaun Inman . . . You guys ok over there? :P

  • I didnt mention mint but i think it sucks! I know, I am the only person on the planet that thinks so but a flashy interface just doesnt cut it for me. Maybe I am missing something major but when I ran it, it failed to deliver the depth of information I required.

  • That’s understandable. I think it is the additional peppers (from different developers) that really makes the program, or gives it value.
    Now, if it were not for these additional ‘peppers’ I would have to agree with you; Out of the box it isn’t that impressive, but after a few minutes with the pepper action, it’s pretty good. There have been some major updates within the last few months as well.
    Also, not sure who you use for hosting, but many hosts (such as mediatemple) come with fairly stats program such as urchin or AWstats but I think these may only be suitable for a prosumer, definitely not for an ecommerce site.
    Thanks for letting me chime in; As always I enjoy the podcasts and really like the direction you guys are taking it; One with more structure and planning. Great work!

  • I just picked up on your podcast from Dustin Diaz, and over the past couple days have been working through them all. By the end of the week I’ll end up saying things like, “Spot on!”
    There was a joke made in this show about AJAX as a household cleaner and it reminded me of a article my buddy wrote on the subject, AJAX: A Special Kind of Bleach.
    Keep up the good work guys! And thank Dustin for a new listener!