Web Analytics Tools are just Tools. Master Craftsman Analysts Needed

Web Analytics Tools are just Tools. Master Craftsman Analysts Needed

Wood CarvingWeb analytics tools are just tools.

A chisel is just a chisel.

  • We would laugh if anyone suggested a chisel can guarantee the creation of an intricately carved and wonderfully sculpted elegant piece of furniture.
  • We understand the chisel is a tool.
  • We understand that the simple act of buying a chisel does not guarantee the desired successful outcome.
  • We understand the chisel, a tool, needs a user.
  • We understand that not just any warm body, but a person skilled with many years of practiced experience, is needed to wield the chisel (and other tools) to create amazing, awesome furniture.
  • Someone who exhibits mastery of the craft.
  • A Master Craftsman.

Chisels have been around for a long, long time.
We understand there are different types of chisels, for different purposes, different media.

Web analytics tools, however, are fairly new and somewhat mysterious.

  • Many are in awe of the number of reports, volume of data and the growing variety of visual representation that is available from web analytics tools.

Many feel like they’re drinking from a firehose.
( Uncomfortable thought, isn’t it.
Not surprising people turn away.)

  • Web analytics tools haven’t been around long enough so that their nature, their usefulness is well understood.
  • Web analytics tools are digital artifacts (software), not something tangible like a chisel (hardware). They can morph in an instant, with additional new and mysterious capabilities.And they have to, because what web analytics tools are “working on” is also morphing and changing.Chisels work on tangible media like wood, metal or stone.Analytics tools started out measuring websites, then email, search, multi-channel, and now fast-evolving social media. Impossible to tell what’s coming tomorrow.
  • Because web analytics tools are more complex than chisels, we have leapt to the hopeful conclusion that the action of buying and installing a web analytics tool is a guarantee of online success. Insight and action are expected to be delivered by the tool, without any assistance from humans (except for buying and installing).
  • And that’s why web analytics tools are seen to fail.Where’s the Master Craftsman?
    For a suite of evolving tools as new as these, the Master Craftsman you need is not necessarily one who’s skilled at wielding specific tools but a person skilled with and energized by the challenge of managing measurement amongst the shifting sands of the digital world.

Web analytics tools are indeed helpful and useful:

  • They have processed a lot of data into reports.
  • They’ve saved us lots and lots of time.
  • Without these reports, we wouldn’t be able to start analyzing.
  • But these reports are just that, a starting point.

A Web Analyst is needed to fill the role of the Master Craftsman.

  • The web analytics tool is the wielded by the Analyst to extract insight.
  • The Analyst must then prioritize these insights and communicate the most relevant insights concisely in a compelling way that causes the Organization to take action.
  • Action leads to improved performance.

Organizations that close the cycle, regularly extract insight and take action, are a small number but growing.

So if you feel “let down” by your web analytics tool, do look at yourself in the mirror.

  • You aren’t powerless. Pick up the tool.
  • Take on the role of the Web Analyst, Master Craftsman.
  • Take the first step.
    ( No, don’t look at every single report!

    First, ask a few simple questions, such as:
    “What is the purpose of the website?”
    “If we are succeeding, what should I be able to detect?”
    “Which metrics will help me detect success?”
  • These questions will point you to the reports you should start looking at. From that starting point, segment the results you see to pinpoint what’s working and what’s not. Stay focused on the business improvement being sought, and you’ll stay on track.

Comments? Thoughts? Do you agree or disagree or have more to add?
Love to hear your thoughts.


Need more information?
Check out these articles on our main website:
> 7-Step Process for Effective Web Analytics
> Analyst Skills
and an earlier blog post, Are you a Triple Threat?

June Li


By |2020-02-19T10:29:56-05:00June 30th, 2009|3 Comments
Categories: Analyst Capability


  1. Emma 2009-08-03 at 23:09 - Reply

    I completely agree, June….great description of the issue. There is a famous saying….”A fool with a tool is still a fool.” I

    • Diandra 2012-09-09 at 07:28 - Reply

      At last, someone comes up with the “right” asnewr!

  2. June Li 2009-08-04 at 07:22 - Reply

    So true – too much yearning for that ‘silver bullet’!

    Did you see Jim Sterne’s post?
    Seven Reasons to Switch Web Analytics Tools
    “#7. … we tend to use these reports as a drunkard does a lamppost, for support rather than illumination”

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