Web Analysts don't have to be Tech Experts. Just Tech Savvy. | ClickInsight Blog

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14 July 2006

Web Analysts don't have to be Tech Experts. Just Tech Savvy.

How deep does a Web analyst have to dive into Web analytics tool technology to be effective? In my opinion, they don't have to be an expert. They need to know enough about the differences in technology to understand how technology affects data collection. They need to understand why good tagging, good data clensing, and cookie management are important. And they need to be able to simplify all this complexity and explain this to Web site owners or project managers, so that when Web site builds, content changes or re-designs are in the works, there's time and money alloted for this work.

This post was triggered by a question on the Web Analytics Forum. Kristen Lindsey of Apokrisis asked...

"...Does anyone have some advice on a) what technological expertise would be partcularly good to acquire for analytics consulting...

Also, what do you think are limitations for non-technically trained web analytics consultant without gaining this sort of knowledge?..."
> Read Kristen's full post.

I replied...

"Web analysts should focus on interpreting results for business and communicating them rather than implementing tagging. Therefore, IMHO, Web analysts don't have to be javascript experts. They won't have the bandwidth to do both anyway! Web analysts should be *accountable* for ensuring the tagging is done properly, but they don't personally have to be *responsible* for doing the work.

So what should a Web analyst know about javascript? Know enough to do a quick spot check for gross errors (comes in handy at times when troubleshooting). Know that the implementation process varies for different vendors. Know what the common pitfalls are for the tool you're working with. Know where the extra effort needs to be spent tagging, and then know enough to make sure someone gets the needed tagging done right."
>Read my full post on the Web Analytics Forum

More thoughts on this subject...Successful Web analytics is more than tools & coding. A business-focused Web analyst will deliver more returns to the business faster. And since business savvy analysis and communication are hard to come by, my vote is to have analysts focus on improving the business.

Some Web analytsts are both business-savvy and tech experts. But they are few and far between. And if we set the bar that high, it'll be hard for the practice of Web analytics to grow. So strive for businsess-savvy and tech-savvy but not tech expert. What does being tech-savvy look like?
  • Know the differences, benefits and limitations between server log file and page tagging technologies. Understand the idiosyncrasies of the tool you're working with. Understand how cookies work.
  • Know enough to value precise tagging, plan for adequate project resources to tag, and spec the quality outcome you need.
  • Hire the tech expertise. Partner closely with a tech expert.
  • Know how to detect problems. Pass in-depth investigation to your tech expert. (Using a home-owner analogy... you'll know when your plumbing's leaking but you might not want to fix it yourself!)
  • Train (or contract) someone else to implement the detailed tagging. All vendors provide training support if you want to build this expertise in-house.
What do you think?

June Li
ClickInsight

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