Using Hitwise dashboards

Given that I am about to move jobs, I thought that it would be worthwhile getting a blog post out about a tool which I currently use, but may not do in the new job.  That tool would be Hitwise.  Hitwise is good in one way that they have a very useful Analysts Blog section, where you can read about some of the trends that they have spotted over time.  In fact, you can also follow the UK arm on Twitter (don’t forget that you can follow me too at twitter.com/acochrane) where they put up good links to any interesting articles that they find (thanks for last time :)).

So there is no point me sitting here and typing out some analysis about what is going on with Hitwise that would be useful for you to know.  Instead what I thought I’d do is look at a couple of features that we probably don’t use as much as we should, but could come in useful at some point in the future.  In fact, you may have noticed that I’ve done this bit before as well – starting with 6 tips for using Hitwise that was aimed predominantly at editorial staff (well I nicked if from a presentation that I was giving to editorial staff).  Then I went a bit arse about face and wrote about how you could use Hitwise for your sales strategy, your search strategy and finally for your social bookmarking strategy.  Unfortunately I couldn’t think of any more strategies to use, so I’ve gone for a bit more of a practical approach of how you group all that together.

This is where Hitwise’s dashboards come in useful.  When I talked (back in the day) about HBX’s new dashboard system I said that I hadn’t actually found it that useful in the past.  Now I am going to say the same thing about Hitwise’s dashboards – I haven’t actually used them before.  Mainly because I just haven’t got around to it.  I think that they would actually be quite useful and given the previous posts I’ve done on the subject you can probably guess what I am going to put into them.  For the purposes of now, I’m going to set up one that Sales would like.

First of all, go to your dashboard menu (it’s up there in the top left before you get to custom categories) and click on ‘New Dashboard’.  That wasn’t difficult, was it.  Note here that you have three choices:

  • Base it on a template (there are six of these)
  • Copy an existing dashboard (more on this later)
  • Create a new one from scratch

Personally I created a new one from scratch, but that doesn’t stop you taking a templated one and altering it to suit your needs.  Hitwise conveniently takes your existing main site as the site to use in its template, so if you do like one of the pre-canned ones, it will automatically populate with the right data.

As I said though, I chose to create my own one.  So after choosing the name of your dashboard (you’ll notice how original I am in the naming of mine), you get to choose what modules you want to add:

There are quite a lot of them, but I’ve decided to go with the demographic options, so that we can shoot this across to a sales team really easily.  This will tell the sales team in a very quick way what our user base is like and they can take some of those facts to the customers if they so wish (particularly I’m thinking about advertisers of the display or classifieds types here, but it should also work for lead generation as well).

Below you can see that I’ve added in a few of the modules and I’ve configured them to show my website (which in this case is www.fwi.co.uk).  These are easy to configure – you just click on the edit button in the top corner when you mouse over the module and then add in the website name when you get there.  However there are two different ways that you can do this.  Firstly you can select the appropriate modules by ticking the select box as you mouse over them (see below):

Then in the top right hand side of the screen there is an option to ‘Modify Selected’ under the ‘More actions’ header.  This means that you can select a variety of reports and give them all to the same website in one easy swoop.  This is great if you have industry report as well as website reports on the same dashboard because you can select them independently.  Also if you have side by side comparisons of two sites to show what they look like, then you can also select just the left hand reports to be one website and the right hand to be another.

The third option is that you can modify an entire dashboard.  This is where it is quite useful when you are copying an existing dashboard.  Mainly because you can set it up perfectly for one of your sites and then just copy and paste the report, modifying it to the new website. 

I like this idea of creating some easily customisable dashboards with lots of information in them, mainly because I think we tend to think of Hitwise as being a bit slow to get any information out of.  The reports that we’ve created in the past are cumbersome to create and tend to result in a lot of downloading of information into excel and then manipulating it into a way that someone would like to see it.  These reports are easily produced once and can be accessed time and again without multiple set up.  They may not give you the precise information that you would like to see, but that is where you can delve down into the data to give you a more complete view.  This is easily done, because mousing over any particular report allows you to just view that report.  In a way, you could use it in the same way that you would a HBX dashboard, as a hub to get to each of your reports to delve deeper into.

Also of use (and I don’t know if the guys at Hitwise are aware of this) is that we quite like copying and pasting these graphs into other reports we send out.  This is really useful here because you can grab a load of reports in one go by highlighting it all and ctrl c, ctrl v – needs a bit of formatting, but it is there.

What would be even better is if you could share this dashboard firstly with other Hitwise users (they could then use it for their sites).  Also would be great if you could share a static version for people without Hitwise logins.  This is where someone from Hitwise can comment and tell me you can already and I’ve missed a trick or that it is something that is in the pipeline.

Posted in Hitwise

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