Analytics. It seems to be quite a hot topic in the documentation world at the moment, especially with Web-facing docs. Mark Fidelman of MindTouch even wrote an excellent guest post on that subject for this space recently.
While I think that analytics can be useful, I also think that perhaps they don’t tell the whole story.
When I spoke with a few Google technical writers at the STC Summit, one of them confirmed that their performance reviews include a web analytics component
OK, so certain topics in Web-facing docs get less traffic than other topics. But does this indicate a problem with the documentation? Or is it something else?
It could be an indication that portions or functions of app are used more than others. Or it could point to features and functions which many people find difficult to use. Yes, it could mean that the documentation is lacking in areas, and people are going elsewhere to find answers.
As I mentioned a few paragraphs ago, we’re not getting the whole story. I’m not sure we can get it, either.
That’s not to say that analytics aren’t useful. They are. And the statistics present (at least) a couple of good opportunities. One is where we can devote more effort to the documentation. Not just traditional manuals and help, but also tool tips or embedded documentation. It can also give us an opening to work with developers and interface designers to improve the usability of a user interface.
Thoughts? As always, your comments are welcome.