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Darren Cook <darren@dcook.org>

Web Site/Flash Activity Tracking

Keywords: tracking, demographics, html, web, flash, analysis, data mining, user experience, marketing, site optimization

For one web site I developed a system that tracks the user from entry in the site, then through the various pages in the site. It ties this information to the demographic information in the database when the user is known; it does not require a login however and can track complete user sessions for users who login halfway through the session or do not login at all. It used PHP sessions which means it works transparently whether the user has cookies enabled or disabled, and also works for mobile phones.

The second half of the system then imports the data regularly and automatically produces daily, weekly and monthly reports on user activity.

Web analysis software such as WebTrends claim to do similar analysis from web server logs but this system is both more accurate (for instance WebTrends uses IP addresses, and has to guess when a session starts and ends), and can also tie the information to a back-end user database (e.g. allowing us to compare most common paths through the sites of users of different gender or in different age groups, etc.).

I have also developed a flash movie that tracked the users actions and reported them back to the server, in a format that integrates with this same web site user tracking system. This was done as far as a proof-of-concept, but was not used on any real sites.

Note: this kind of detailed tracking system tends to be overkill - most clients are just not prepared to do anything with the in-depth analysis it can provide.


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Last updated: 3rd Oct 2011, © Copyright Darren Cook, 2011.