Sitecatalyst 8

By Jim Rapoza  |  Posted 2002-08-26 Print this article Print

.0"> Sitecatalyst 8.0

Unlike many other service providers, companies that supply Web analytic services have done fairly well, with some of the biggest and most active sites using services to handle their reporting and analyses. And why not?

Services such as Omnitures SiteCatalyst provide businesses with timely, flexible analyses and reports, saving businesses from investing in, updating and managing software; dealing with giant log files; and dedicating resources to data crunching. Of course, companies also have to be comfortable with having some of their most vital business information outside their internal network.

Like similar services such as WebTrends Live and WebSideStory Inc.s HitBox, SiteCatalyst works through scripts embedded on Web site pages. These scripts send information to the service provider whenever a page is accessed. Users can then access an analysis and reporting interface through their browser to get real-time reports on site activity.

We tested SiteCatalyst by installing the scripts on public sites controlled in the Labs. We also accessed a large site provided by Omniture to see additional reporting options and reports over time.

The embedded JavaScript for SiteCatalyst is actually 47 lines of code, which we found somewhat long. Still, lots of information is handled through this code: We could customize various settings, making it possible to handle and analyze detailed site properties and e-commerce activities.

The code can be manually inserted into each page or deployed globally across the site through templates, in a standard header or through a content management system. In addition to the embedded code, we had to place a small JavaScript file in a publicly accessible directory on our Web server. (In our case, we placed the file in the CGI-BIN directory.)

Once we had installed the code, we were able to immediately log in to our SiteCatalyst interface and view activity on our site. The main interface for SiteCatalyst is protected through a Secure Sockets Layer connection, which should be secure enough for most businesses. Still, additional security options such as virtual private network access or secure token log-ins would be useful.

The SiteCatalyst interface, which worked well in IE and Mozilla, makes excellent use of HTML and Flash to provide a rich, highly interactive reporting and analysis environment. We were able to choose from a wide variety of reports and could easily create custom reports using the report wizard. Reports can be downloaded in formats such as Microsoft Corp.s Word or Excel, PDF, or HTML and can be exported as text for importing into other reporting and analysis tools.

A new feature in SiteCatalyst 8.0 is Optimum Path. With this technology, SiteCatalyst now has some of the best path analysis capabilities weve seen. From the path reports in SiteCatalyst, we could access detailed, graphical representations of how visitors are using and moving through a site.

Also new in this version was the option to view almost any report in a trended view, rather than in the standard ranked view. In the trended view, we could view line graphs showing how content performed over a specific period of time.

One potential drawback to services that use embedded scripts to track site usage is that they can track only content that is in or linked to a Web page. If visitors are downloading media or other files directly, either through old external links or by guessing, tools such as SiteCatalyst will not show this, although they would be listed in standard log analysis tools.

Finally, while Web analysis services such as SiteCatalyst have done well compared with most other application service providers, they do have one thing in common with their service brethren: massive overpricing. Prices for SiteCatalyst are based on the number of page views and start at around $15,000 per year, with most customers paying between $100,000 and $250,000 per year.

East Coast Technical Director Jim Rapoza can be reached at

Jim Rapoza, Chief Technology Analyst, eWEEK.For nearly fifteen years, Jim Rapoza has evaluated products and technologies in almost every technology category for eWEEK. Mr RapozaÔÇÖs current technology focus is on all categories of emerging information technology though he continues to focus on core technology areas that include: content management systems, portal applications, Web publishing tools and security. Mr. Rapoza has coordinated several evaluations at enterprise organizations, including USA Today and The Prudential, to measure the capability of products and services under real-world conditions and against real-world criteria. Jim Rapoza's award-winning weekly column, Tech Directions, delves into all areas of technologies and the challenges of managing and deploying technology today.

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