Dashboard: To Avoid Meltdown, Test, Measure and Check Web Site Stats Often - InformationWeek

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11/22/2006
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Dashboard: To Avoid Meltdown, Test, Measure and Check Web Site Stats Often

A Weather Channel site used web analytics to find users weren't picking up on important navigational tools.

The Weather Channel faced typical design challenges when it recently launched a Web site on global warming issues, but experience and a battery of Web analytics tools helped it prevent a site-launch meltdown.

The site, weather.com/onedegree, is intended to educate consumers on climate changes and provide a forum for debate on causes and responses. The biggest challenge for Matt de Ganon, vice president, broadband and consumer applications, has been site analysis, for which he uses analytics from Coremetrics, WebLogs, WebTrends and proprietary software. "This is a very data-driven organization," de Ganon says. "I wake up in the morning and the first thing I look at is my stats for the Web site," always basing decisions on the data.

When the OneDegree site soft-launched in October, it turned out users didn't pick up on navigational cues, and that had a major impact on video plays--one of the site's goals was to gain two or more video plays per session. Though the company had tested the design with potential visitors, a huge dropoff occurred between clicks on the home page and on the navigational tabs.

"That's the kind of data you can pick up almost the moment you launch, but if business owners aren't looking at their data hourly or daily, they're missing huge revenue opportunities," de Ganon notes. "If we were looking at [stats] monthly, we'd lose 30 days, and it would take us another 30 days to reorganize project priorities."

De Ganon's team is improving site design and terminology by using paper versions of Web pages to work on organization, navigation and labeling of content. --Penny Crosman

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