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Web Site Measurement Hacks by Eric T. Peterson

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Fine-Tune Your Data Collection

One of the most important steps during implementation is fine-tuning your data collection to suit your specific needs.

One of the things that web measurement in no way lacks is available data— there are hundreds of primary reports that can be generated and thousands of secondary reports available when you begin to drill down and cross-tab within the data. While some paint the plethora of data as “good news, " the converse is often true: there is definitely such a thing as “too much information” in web measurement.

This is one reason key performance indicators [Hack #94] are such a valuable management tool: they help simplify data presentation and dissemination. After you have carefully considered your data needs before you set everything up [Hack #14] , the next step is to fine-tune the data you collect so that you can make effective use of the KPI framework.

From a technical standpoint, the decisions you make about data collection are driven by your choice between using web server logfiles and JavaScript page tags. The sections below describe some techniques for eliminating some of the clutter in your data for each technique.

Web Server Logfiles

One of the first steps in reducing clutter is to log only data that you might like to eventually analyze. In the web measurement world, a web server logfile [Hack #22] refers to a combination of as many as four individual files: error logs, access logs, referrer logs, and agent logs. Fortunately, the combined ...

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