John Harrison explains the importance of analysing the purpose of a website

As a developer of a website analysis system we are often asked by insurance companies how we go about analysing the performance of our website. It often surprises many when we don't tell them to buy our website analysis system. Instead we ask them why do they have a website?

The usual immediate response to this question is stunned silence followed by a period of deep thought and then something beginning with 'er ...'

That's disappointing. This is because this is a fundamental question for any website, whether you are selling insurance online or not. The answer to it determines how you should go about sourcing and setting up a website analysis system to tell you whether you are achieving your website's objective.

Once you have the answer then you can establish a number of metrics to gauge the success or otherwise of meeting your objectives.

For a company quoting online and selling products through its website the objective may be simply to increase turnover while maintaining profitability.

Develop metrics
With a clear strategic aim we can now develop metrics to measure whether this website is actually achieving its purpose.

If the key drivers to profitability are advertising costs and product margin, we can now establish three quantifiable metrics: turnover, return on advertising spend and product margin. By focusing on improving on these metrics we will be able to make our website achieve its aims.

Is it this simple? Yes it is. If you are not convinced there are plenty of consultants who will come to the same conclusion. Albeit dressed up in terminology such as key performance indicators (KPIs) to justify their fee.

Therefore when selecting a website analytics system it is vital that it will enable you to measure these essential metrics or KPIs. The myriad of other functions that they provide can be useful but should be assessed as to whether they support your essential metrics or KPIs.

As website analysis systems are very good at churning out lots of data it is also important that your choice makes your essential metrics easily accessible. You are going to get very frustrated if they are buried under a mass of data.

It is the relevance and quality of data produced by your website analysis system not the quantity and volume of data it churns out which is important if it is to help you make your website achieve its objective. IT

John Harrison is chief executive of Maxsi, developer of eVisit Analyst