My current job is researching the best use of web2.0 technologies and principles in the classroom. I and the other researchers use web analytics extensively in evaluating the effectiveness of websites we build. This post is the first in a two-part series about why and how to use web analytics for your social learning website.
This first part explains a bit about what web analytics is and why you should use it.
All websites have a reason for existence. Depending on the site the reason could be to make money, provide leads, provide support, teach students, etc. Using web analytics helps you achieve your site’s purpose in two ways:
From these insights, you make decisions on what to do to improve the website. Then you evaluate the success of your changes by measuring changes in the experiences and behavior of visitors to your site, again using your KPIs (I’ll write more about KPIs in Part II).
In short, web analytics exists to power the generation of actionable insights.
Experience—answer why the visitor did what they did.
In my mind, the third thing is most important. It’s nice to know that a student spent an hour looking at online learning content but we’d really love to know why they did it. Did the student spend the hour because they were studying for a test? Were they finishing an assignment? Is the material helpful? What material is most helpful? Do they enjoy learning with the material?
So behavior and outcomes give you the raw data about what’s happening but experience helps you understand visitors in a more holistic manner. Understanding experience gets you into the mind of visitors to your site. Why they do what they do.
Web analytics help you improve your site in the following manner.
Part I explained what web analytics is and why it is valuable. Part II will explain step-by-step how to use web analytics on a social learning site. I will explain the process I’m going through to implement web analytics on a new social learning website I’m building for BYU.
Posted March 27, 2008
Kyle Mathews lives and works in San Francisco building useful things. You should follow him on Twitter