CATEGORY: Web Analytics & Web Services

REVIEWER: Ivan Ovesny, director of information systems for Business Information Group.

BACKGROUND: Business Information Group is a leading Canadian publisher that specializes in producing magazines, directories, newsletters and database products in print, electronic and Web-based formats to help companies make informed business decisions. Headquartered in Toronto, Business Information Group maintains offices in Montreal and Calgary. Business Information Group's products are represented with 35 internal Web sites. In addition, Business Information Group has built and maintained more than 45 Web sites for external clients, including government customers, to help them comply with the W3C's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. The company specializes in gathering and disseminating quality business-to-business information and providing its customers with critical information regarding their industry, customers, suppliers and competitors.

PLATFORMS: Watchfire WebXM 2.0 is currently running on a Windows 2000 dedicated server.

PROBLEM SOLVED: We selected WebXM to identify problems through site assessment, encouraging repeat traffic to our Web site. We were faced with brand erosion issues such as broken links, links to objectionable content, privacy and searchability issues; and we needed software to help manage and analyze the content of our entire Web site. Watchfire provided a solution that could quickly and accurately baseline the health of our sites to better understand and prioritize Web site repairs and changes that needed to occur. Watchfire WebXM allows our group to concentrate on the business at hand rather than spend significant amounts of time on Web site quality assurance matters. Due to its automated abilities to crawl through our Web sites and alert us to potential and real problems, we have found that staff time on such matters has decreased significantly. WebXM automates the manual processes that previously consumed a significant amount of my staff's time and removed the need to hire more people.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: We are currently using WebXM extensively for its content quality testing functionalities. WebXM produces comprehensive reports detailing broken links, page sizes, faulty purchase checkouts, poor searchability, usability problems and old files. WebXM also includes additional functionality that makes it easy to customize a dictionary. This allows us to regularly monitor and report on the use of specific words. We will be taking advantage of this function even more in the near future as it will help us with online brand management.

STRENGTHS: WebXM produces comprehensive reports that are easily understood and interpreted. WebXM features a unique Web-based "dashboard" view that provides a quick snapshot of the site's overall health, helping to improve the business performance of the company's Web site. We have found that the dashboard feature is especially useful for displaying a summary of reports for users who do not have much technical knowledge. WebXM also has a scheduling ability, which allows scan jobs to be planned to run automatically. This is a useful product that saves the group valuable time.

WEAKNESSES: Depending on the size and complexity of a Web site, WebXM may take considerable time to run through a site. The software's ability to run quickly may also be compromised when a number of sites are being scanned at the same time.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Given our target audience of business professionals, quality of experience and customer confidence are absolutely critical to supporting our online growth. We are pleased with the automated features in WebXM, and we see the software as an important piece of our online strategy, particularly to help encourage a positive user experience. Watchfire was also the only product to offer such a thorough package for our Web site management needs. Other products offered simplified checks such as link verification, but Watchfire's reporting and other quality testing options were superior.

DELIVERABLES: WebXM produces detailed reports for each Web site based on the criteria we outline before the Web site is scanned. The reports can be customized and weighted according to importance. The dashboard feature summarizes the reports of a group of Web sites with a letter grade of A, B or C and easily displays where the majority of problems have occurred. Its visual gauge lets us quickly and easily baseline the overall health of our entire Web site.

VENDOR SUPPORT: WebXM is intuitive and has been fairly easy for us to use. However, phone, e-mail and professional services support was also prompt and helpful in answering any technical questions.

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation for WebXM is good and can be followed without difficulty. Detailed features are also documented in the online help.

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