6 December 2007

Web Analytics Reporting Framework

In my Web Analytics consulting, speaking and teaching assignments, a common question that I often get asked is about how to report Web Analytics.

This creates an interesting and lengthy discussion covering various aspects of reporting such as:

  • rationale – why bother reporting
  • audiences – who should be getting the reports and why
  • contents – what the report should contain
  • format and size – what format the report should be presented in, what is the ideal size, how effective dashboards, charts, tables are
  • method of delivery – should the report be emailed or provided within a Web Analytics tool
  • frequency – what is the ideal frequency of reporting

Early in these discussions, I inquire about the current practices. Many people think their reports are ineffective and add that no one really cares about them.

When we delve more into the subject, a number of problems with current reporting practices emerge including:

  • The reports are long
  • Everyone gets the same report
  • The reports are mostly consisted of charts and tables with little or no commentary
  • It takes too long to produce the reports
  • Stakeholders are engaged poorly
  • The reports do not prompt action

Amongst our clients we observe that when the executives embrace the online channel and demonstrate leadership, the success in this channel is imminent. This occurs because senior management drives it, demands it, and over time an appropriate reporting scheme establishes itself.

Yet, this does not mean we should wait and expect directives from management to sort out our Web Analytics reports. As Web Analysts, Site Managers or Owners, we can use our Web Analytics reports effectively to influence and cultivate the relationship with the senior management as well as assisting with the day to day operations and ongoing improvement of our websites.

First of all, don’t fall into the traps of producing a single report to serve all. Even if you may start with a small report, they grow too large and unmanageable as additional information requests are incorporated into the standard report.

Break your report into multiple reports by its recipients and the expected function. To do this, first define a Web Analytics Reporting Framework.

The crucial first step is defining your reporting audiences. They are usually your internal stakeholders for the online channel. Some may be considered as strategic as they fund and influence the online direction in terms of products, services, content and functionality being offered. Some may be contributing content and they need to know how well their content is performing. Some may be responsible for a service, etc. Don?t forget yourselves as the Web Analyst, Site Manager. You need the right reports to function your role.

Then comes the identification of what each one of these reporting audiences need to know, what for and how often. Then you should concern yourselves with the best possible ways to produce the reports, ideally automating them as much as possible. Efficiency is critical here because you don?t want either you or someone from your team to become a slave of producing the reports day in day out. There might be some reports that require extra data analysis and interpretation. If you are short of resources and do not have these skills in house, consider outsourcing these. Many Web Analytics consultants offer this, including us. Find out more about Bienalto’s outsourced periodic reporting and site analysis and evaluation services. Before too long, you will find you have already defined your Web Analytics Reporting framework.

Below is a list of reports that we have identified for a large content-oriented website through the process described above. The information sources are indicated unless the report could be produced from a typical Web Analytics solution.


Purpose and Rationale

Recommended Frequency

Executive KPI Report

Inform and engage management by providing visibility to website performance

Learn more about KPIs


Operational KPI Report

Ensure ongoing high performance, understand activity levels and trends, and detect sudden changes for examination


Content Performance Report

Align the relevancy and amount of website content with the user needs by studying browsing, search and online enquiry behaviours.

Organisations that employ a call centre for information and support purposes are advised to study/integrate this report with call centre reports.


Campaign Report

Measure the success of online campaigns and its effect on the website and periodically report to campaign owners

Report format changes subject to campaign devices such as email and online ads, etc.

Leading Web Analytics tools offer email automation by which campaign reports can be emailed at regular intervals to all concerned with the campaign.

For each campaign

Site Optimisation Report

Reveal areas to focus on for site improvement and develop potential ideas for improvement.

This is the same as Bienalto’s Website Health Check service to study who is using the site and what for to assess the quality of the site?s traffic and the effectiveness of its information architecture.


Major Change Report

Ensure that newly introduced changes perform as planned and assess their impact on the rest of the site performance

This is similar to the Site Optimisation Report but is exclusively focussed on measuring the effectiveness of the newly introduced functionality.

After introducing any major new functionality or content and changes to the site navigation and structure

Site Availability and Integrity Report

Ensure high degrees of site availability and integrity.

This may involve site availability, hyperlink integrity, page title integrity, metadata coverage, alternative text for images, page download speed, internal search processing speed, average size of PDFs downloaded.

There are a number of online services available that offer site availability and integrity services such as Maxamine’s Website Scorecard.


Content Currency Report

Ensure the site provides up-to-date content such that each content item is owned by a current employee and reviewed for updates and deletion.

This report should be instrumented from your Content Management System.

Quarterly or Biannual