Exclusive: Mach5 revs Weblog analysis
Nimble and quick, Analyzer 4.0 crunches log data into useful reportsFollow @infoworld
Web-log analysis is never glamorous, but getting useful information from Weblogs quickly is still an admirable goal.
That information is helpful in several ways. For example, it allows management to gauge the effectiveness of a Web-based marketing campaign or sales promotion. Understanding site stickiness — how well a Web site holds visitors — or how well a site sells products is extremely important because understanding Web traffic patterns can boost the bottom line.
NetIQ’s WebTrends is the 500-pound gorilla on the Web-log analysis block, but Mach5 Analyzer 4.0 is extremely nimble and provides quick-and-dirty analysis. This version adds several powerful tools, including the HyperLink TreeView, Scenario Analysis, and HyperLink TreeView Tags.
Analyzer is simple. It’s broken out into a table-of-contents pane on the left and a primary pane on the right, making it extremely easy to use and navigate. HyperLink TreeView allows administrators to navigate forward and backward though a site to investigate where traffic and usability problems arise. Ideal for visual people, the tree view is dynamic and informative, revealing relevant trends that otherwise would be hidden within the data. Unfortunately, the view cannot be printed in a report or exported out of Analyzer.
A minor irritation: The extended data that shows up when mousing over a specific cell for a page can become obtrusive and block the data underneath. I would prefer these balloons show up only after a few seconds of hovering rather than right away.
HyperLink TreeView Tags present even more statistical information for a chosen Web resource or page. They show the percentage of total visitors that reach the page and where they came from.
Scenario analysis offers yet another way to track site visitors to see whether specific business goals are being met and how site changes affect the bottom line. I used the A-B Split Analysis option to conduct before-and-after traffic analysis, which allowed me to measure the effect of a design change to the Web site. Scenario Analysis requires persistent or session cookies, although other tools within Analyzer work whether or not your site supports persistent cookies. Of course, they work much better for tracking specific visitors if cookies are enabled.
Similarly, the Tracking option is helpful for extensively monitoring specific Web pages over time to see how many visitors have accessed them. The feature is particularly useful for keeping an eye on a contest page or tracking specific products.
Analzyer’s filtering options aid in managing various types of Web-log data, including competitor usage, exclusion or inclusion of Web spiders, tracking ad campaigns and partnerships, and finding out the OSes or Web browsers visitors typically use.
Analyzer’s reporting capabilities, though not robust, are effective. You can export an HTML report, allowing recipients to interact with the data much more than they could with a paper report. This new version of Analyzer uses XML configuration files to configure the reports.
Reports have two styles, basic and advanced, but can be easily modified to add or remove data for Technical or Executive reports. Unfortunately, Analyzer cannot use comparative date ranges to generate reports of visitor data over time, but it compensates for that with the aforementioned Tracking option. New to this version is the ability to print reports in PDFs, which is a nice feature.
The speed of Analyzer 4.0 really stands out. I’ve used it for about a year, and this version just screams through Web server logs. I analyzed 100MB of Web logs in under four minutes and produced useful and concise reports based on gathered data — not bad for a tool that costs less than $200. WebTrends would have taken several hours to complete the task. That goes to show how effective Analyzer can be for providing ad-hoc and timely Web data analysis at a reasonable price.