Is Analytics The One?

A favorite scene from a favorite movie:

Daniel: You know, Sammy, I’m sure she’s unique and extraordinary, but… the general wisdom is that, in the end, there isn’t just one person for each of us.
Sam: There was for Kate and Leo. There was for you. There is for me. [holds up one finger] She’s “the one”.
Daniel: Fair enough.
-Love Actually

I have the devil of a time picking what to focus on about the web. The problem is I love it all: PHP, databases, XML, CSS, Flash, convergence, standards, and so on. But for the past six weeks I’ve been focused on one that shows strong signs of trumping the lot: analytics.

I can’t begin to share all that I’ve learned in one or two posts. Instead, I’m going to take it in bite-size chunks. And today’s topic is…

What the Heck Is Analytics?

Once upon a time (measured in web eons, meaning back in the 1990s) analytics meant geek aracana like log file statistics, hits, page views. In other words, it was all about the raw numbers.

Then it evolved to mean the application that gathered the numbers — typically Google Analytics.

Now, however, as it comes into its own, it means much more. In essence, analytics is the process of matching core goals with objective numbers.

For those wanting a more thorough definition, it’s the practice of collecting, analyzing and reporting meaningful numbers about website usage. The data must be analyzed in an objective way through testing and measurement by those responsible for the site. Then the resulting information is used to optimize the site to more effectively accomplish the organization’s goals.

In other words, it’s powerful web juju.