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Old 04-03-2008, 06:40 AM   #1
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Just thought I'd put up a post about some of the analytical tools I use to gauge the success or otherwise of the WoTMUD website that I run, really to try and help people see the benefit of some of this stuff so that the MUD community as a whole can perhaps use these too and get better at promoting itself. In terms of promoting your mud, I stand by what I said back in 2000 in Imaginary Realities in Promoting Your MUD (1) and Promoting Your MUD (2), although the web has changed significantly since then . Usenet, for example, is more or less dead.

I use 5 different analytical tools; 2 on a daily basis and 3 as and when.

Google Analytics

It's free, all it takes is a simple code addition to your html before the </body> tag. What Google Analytics (GA) does very well is tell you about people. It'll tell you where they came from, what searchphrases they used, your peaks and troughs, and so on. If you use the advanced e-commerce options it gets even better; you can use this to set certain pages as "target" pages and so you can gauge the success of your referral sources. For example I want people to log onto my mud using our web-based clients, and the statistics I collect have these as the target.

It also has some other features which I find very nice. You can do a "site overlay" and it'll show you which links people click, and how much, overlaid on your site. It has a dashboard feature so that you can make a page which shows you the stats that matter to you. It has a benchmarking feature which allows you to compare your site against others in the same niche.

The downsides? Very few. GA doesn't tell you about spiders, and there's a time delay on there. You have to customise it to get the exact referring URL out, and their funnel process doesn't produce the data I want. I'm not interested in the conversion rate per page, I'm interested in total conversions.

Visit Google Analytics


It's free and it doesn't add an ugly graphic to your site. Although it produces similar data to GA, the reason I also use this is because there's no time delay. So I know when a run is happening on my site, because of some forum posting somewhere or something.

There is a limit on the amount of entries, but because I just use it to see the runs and recent incomings, it just doesn't matter to me.

Visit Statcounter


This is a server-side package which parses your access log files and produces your data. It's free, it's a pretty good tool but you need to be careful not to have un-passworded access to it otherwise it'll create porn scam referral or scraper hassles. We installed this a few years ago as the upgrade to the last analytics package I use.

Visit AWStats


Again, free, the last purely analytics package I use, a historical legacy. I like to keep it around to be able to gauge year-on-year trends.

Visit Webaliser


Clicktale records visitors actions as they browse your site. It's free, it shows you movies of what your site's visitors actually did and produces heatmaps of your site's pages. It has some basic analytical data but this tool is much more about "useability" and "user habits".

For example, this tools me that only 50% of visitors ever bother browsing beyond the fold, it tells me the average browser window size, and it tells me how long people spend reading the various parts of webpages. It's a great tool to work out what your "hot" areas are, where you're likely to get your visitors attention and which bits are in a wasted position.

What I like about this tool is that it's very easy to get sidetracked by the "theories" of perfect web design and the urge to add valuable content. This brings you back down to earth and forces you to rethink what works and what doesn't. I'd be interesting to see TMS' stats for this, ie how many people actually scroll down to the lower listings?

Visit Clicktale

Feng GUI

This isn't an analytics package, but a neat web-based tool along the same lines as Clicktale. Pop in your URL, and it shows you which bits of your page are likely to attract your user's attention. For example, if you throw in an image of mudconnector, it's perfectly obvious why it's valued so much by the_logos - their 3 ads above the fold "pwn" there.
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Old 07-23-2008, 02:33 PM   #2
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Re: tools

Thanks for the tips.
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Old 07-23-2008, 08:41 PM   #3
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Re: tools

Great post nass.
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