By Jim Rapoza  |  Posted 2004-06-07 Print this article Print

WebSideStory is among the pioneers of service-based Web analytics, providing one of the first embedded code-based services in its popular HitBox service. However, the product has been falling behind some competitors in richness of features, so, with its May release, WebSideStory went beyond a simple update: The company has launched a completely rebranded product, HBX On-Demand Web Analytics, to replace HitBox.

And our tests showed this release fully warrants the rebranding. HBX is a massive update of the HitBox Web analytics service. HBX is completely competitive and a welcome option for Web sites of any size or complexity level.

Our tests show that initial setup of HBX is pretty much the same as it was with HitBox, involving embedding code into Web pages and adding a small JavaScript file to the Web server.

However, the first time a user logs in to the HBX service, he or she will find that the main interface is much- improved over HitBoxs. The most obvious change is that HBX uses a portallike dashboard interface, which we used to quickly view the reports and analysis that we chose to monitor most frequently.

The rebranded product maintains the excellent reporting options of its predecessor, but it also offers a great deal of additional functionality. One of our favorite features is what WebSideStory calls Event Sequencing, which let us create regular reports that tracked visitor clickstream occurrences.

Performing analysis in Funnels, a revamped feature that makes it possible to track visitor activity through sets of Web pages, is much easier in HBX than it was in HitBox. We could view complex Funnels with a few simple mouse clicks. Other new analysis options include the ability to track what states and countries visitors came from, increased comparison options, and the ability to view page relations through visitor affinity.

Like WebTrends, HBX offers additional site analysis capabilities through client plug-ins. For example, an add-on for Excel made it possible to create complex reports within the spreadsheet program, and a browser plug-in provided additional analysis capabilities, including the ability to see link and element activity while viewing a Web page. However, the latter plug-in worked only in Internet Explorer 5.5 or later.

Although it is possible to add legacy information to your site database by sending the logs to WebSideStory, HBX has no way to incorporate current log information into its reporting capabilities.

HBX pricing starts at $15,000 per year and increases based on page-view volume.

Labs Director Jim Rapoza can be contacted at jim_rapoza@ziffdavis.com.

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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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