Paratrooper Digital

Analytics and flash.

Tracking users across a session has always been an important thing in figuring out business success on the web. Technologies like flash and dhtml that can change content without refreshing the page are taking the world by storm. As things like Apollo and flex enhance this even further, website analytics becomes even more vital. After working on projects that utilize Omniture and doing research on Google analytics here are some comparisons on the subject for both flash and dhtml/ajax type content. The general premise starts with including a javascript file and accessing the functions within, but before that even happens there are some important things to consider. The most important thing about analytics is that its meant to answer questions about traffic. Sure knowing whats your heaviest hit page is cool, but when it comes to what spending budgets on this information is vital. It can transform a client’s understanding of what their visitors are really coming for. Its quite beneficial to have a plan before the building process begins, not always is it as easy to retrofit a flash application for tracking, especially when applications are driven by large amounts of external data. Remember this, what questions am I looking to answer with this information. Collecting the data is useless unless it can be mined into meaningful information. Attach the js file to the page and use the tracking methods detailed within the documentation. In omniture it might be s.t() or doTrack(); in Google Analytics (install instructions) it seems to be urchinTracker(); What about other applications? Yahoo’s Overture, Microsoft’s Gatineau some of them seem to offer the same kind of functionality. There have been only a few hiccups due to outrageously heavy demand on Google, but for the most part Google seems to have been extremely reliable. There is this Google page on tracking flash events, but on several projects I’ve found much use taking advantage of Macromedia/adobe’s GetURLQueue class. There is also the AnalyticsFacade class which should get customized to remember the elements sent. Of course on certain types of applications you might just find that you are already sending information back to a web service or web page and that might contain all the information you need.
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About Nate Frank

Nate is currently a Senior Presentation Layer Architect at Razorfish Chicago. As an SPLA Nate: participates in technology leadership team and resource allocations, manage fulltime and contractor resources, represents technology for groups of brands across multiple clients, furthers development of standards within the office, architects project implementations and fosters community and mentoring.

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