Column: Web sites should be dynamic places

Traffic analysis is the key to ensuring your Web site is hitting the spot with visitors.

The @IDG Web Site has been up and running for a little over six months and so far there have been about 28,000 separate visitors (a visitor is defined as someone with a unique IP address; if one person visits the site twice a week, they still are counted as only one visitor).

Each visitor looks at about eight pages during a visit and spends about five minutes in total on the site.

Not surprisingly, New Zealand readers comprise about 75% of the traffic. The US is next with 10%, then Australia with 0.53%. More importantly, Ihug users account for 11% of the visits, followed by Xtra (4.6%), Voyager (4.0%) and then IProLink (3.3%).

This not only gives IDG a feel for how many people use the service but also who they are ... and it gives IDG a better perspective on where its target market lies and how to reach it for improved client loyalty.

All these facts and figures are extremely important when analysing the use patterns for a Web site. It is not enough just to throw up a Web page and hope for the best. A Web site is a dynamic place, one where change is encouraged.

But as IDG site administrator Bruce Buckman points out, IDG, like everyone else, has limited resources for it online development. “We use the site analysis logs to help us allocate resources to improving the site. We need to know what works and what doesn’t.

“With the logs, we can make changes and then monitor if those changes have any effect on the use patterns. A lot of the time, market perception and reality are two different things.

“We use the site logs as a reality check to make sure that we are addressing the facts instead of impressions.”

The IDG site garners a lot of feedback. The “Have your say” section elicits some lively threads about stories, news events and the New Zealand Internet scene. However, the feedback itself does not necessarily reflect the traffic. It merely reflects the opinions of interested correspondents.

This highlights the utility of a good site tracker programme--it allows you get the facts on user access, it serves as a nice complement to feedback and market perceptions. And it can help you refine your target market. This is especially important if you have advertising on your site.

A Web site is dynamic. More and more attention is being paid to content as opposed to existence. Having a good Web traffic analysis tool is essential if you want to ensure that your pages are working in the manner you require.

(Parent is an Internet consultant at Creative Data in Auckland. He can be contacted by email at pjp@iprolink.co.nz or via Creative Data’s Web site at http://www.cd.co.nz/cd.)

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