What do you want to measure? asks the Web analytics implementation manager. Everything, replies the business manager. Great, exactly what a Web analyst wants to hear. But measuring everything and making that information analyzable, useful and practical involves more than passing every bit of information on Web site behavior to a Web analytics tool. It involves organizing that information into a variable architecture that retains the analytical detail but provides the practical means by which to digest it.
Variable architecture is not the same as data architecture. Designing a database and creating data architecture is largely independent of the delivery or reporting mechanism; a SQL query doesnt care how many values a variable has or in how many permutations its values occur. Nor is variable architecture the same as information architecture in Web site design: many kinds of hierarchies - not just informational - might be at play at the same page or action on a Web site. Furthermore, having variables capture each bit of information is not the same as having variable architecture that relates these bits of information to each other and makes it readily digestible to product or marketing managers. Rather, variable architecture describes the way that interesting information is stored in such a way as to preserve the detail of anything analytically interesting but also to allow reporting to be as easy and practical as possible.
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