If you’re familiar with the process of web analytics implementations, you are well aware of the efforts and resources that (should!) go into the setup of an analytics measurement tool. As your website evolves and ownership of reporting and digital measurement can exchange hands, you’ll want to ensure that none of the initial preparation goes to waste.

A Web Analytics Design Reference acts as a blueprint outlining your website’s data collection and helps to construct your overall digital measurement strategy. Such documentation can simply be in the form of a spreadsheet describing all custom variables: their use, naming conventions, when and where to set variables, examples of the information being captured within these variables and any additional notes to aid not only your development team in code implementation, but for report consumption post-implementation.

Its purpose is to serve as a record of the data being passed into your analytics platform and how the reports within the interface are being populated. This document should be referenced on an ongoing basis – during initial tracking code implementation as well as when future tracking opportunities and reporting needs arise.

The Analytics Design Reference can be leveraged to:

– Determine the value of data to be collected (quality vs. quantity – the number of custom variables within your analytics tool is limited; requiring data collection to be strategically planned)

– Keep historic record of the variables that are already in place and the information populating specific reports

– Reference remaining empty variables available for future tracking requirements

– Establish consistency across tracking initiatives to institute standardization and to gain a global perspective whenever possible

With proper documentation on hand, you can avoid risking misinterpretation of the wealth of data you possess. That statement may not fully relay the importance of such “record-keeping” but to help hammer this home, remind yourself: the analysis and insights you are garnering from online data collection are only as valuable and accurate as the understanding and cleanliness of your data! It is imperative to maintain a Web Analytics Design Reference which can not only aid in one-off website projects, but also help to develop a uniform foundation and strategic approach to any new digital analytics initiatives down the line.

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