Given that every enterprise has at least a Web site and that most also have an intranet, portal or e-commerce presence, one would think that Web analysis tools would be higher on more organizations must-have lists.
For the most part, however, these products have been overlooked. Even among companies that have them, site analysis tools are often underused because companies dont realize the vital information they could be missing and the major improvements they could make to their online platforms via better use of analysis products.
However, for companies that do choose to leverage Web analysis tools to improve their online businesses, the times could not be better. Most major vendors in this market have improved their offerings significantly, and all can provide a business with highly detailed, understandable, accessible, real-time Web analysis data.
For this review, eWEEK Labs looked at three top products in the Web analysis arena: NetIQ Corp.s WebTrends 7, which is available as a service and as an installable application, and two service-provider-only products, WebSideStory Inc.s HBX On-Demand Web Analytics and Omniture Inc.s SiteCatalyst 10.
All the products we evaluated had excellent analysis and reporting capabilities that let us view Web site information in almost any way we wanted, using graphical path analysis tools, tight integration with Microsoft Corp.s Excel or real-time reports.
The efficacy of these products depends more on a companys Web site complexity and traffic utilization than on a companys size. All three would work well for larger, more complex sites, but smaller, simpler sites might prefer the low-end versions of WebTrends available from NetIQ.
Methods of Web site analysis
- Log-file analysis tools The oldest and most traditional form of site analysis, these tools work by indexing and analyzing the large log files generated by Web servers. Log-file analysis tools are simple to deploy and provide accurate long-term reporting but cant do fully real-time analysis—and log files can be very large in size.
- Protocol sniffers These products work by using standard network sniffer technology to watch traffic as it moves to and from Web servers. Protocol sniffers can be painlessly deployed in almost no time and provide up-to-the-second real-time analytics. However, they are limited to the most basic visitor traffic information and cant provide the detailed analytics and reporting that other technologies offer.
Labs Director Jim Rapoza can be contacted at email@example.com.