The most frequently asked question I get from clients is, “What should we measure on our Web site?”

After spending a healthy amount of time identifying goals, we spend a healthier amount of time determining which metrics will reveal how well they are attaining those goals.

The second most frequently asked question is, “What does a best-practices Webanalytics dashboard look like?”

This question is usually prefaced by some higher-up having asked for the most important information boiled up, distilled down and delivered in the least space about what's happening on the site. They want a couple of needle-gauges and a few traffic lights: green means it's all good, yellow is tolerable and red means somebody is going to get a serious talking to.

Yes, it's a political question. What is the most important information about your site? What few numbers will tell you whether everything is on an even keel? Clickthroughs, pageviews, and revenues, of course.

Clickthroughs tell you where people are coming from: advertising, affiliates, search engines, pay-per-click service and the like. Pageviews tell you what people are looking at. Revenues, of course, represent the bottom line, the goal, the moment of success whether that means buying, registering, downloading, calling for an appointment or whatever your particular conversion event might be.

So let's start at the beginning. Where do people come from? Do you really know what is driving people to your site? I asked the director of Web traffic at one of my clients for his Ultimate Dashboard, the most useful resource-at-a-glance to help him do his job. He started out with a straight face and then this dreamy look came over him.

“First, it would include all the promotions we're running. We've got cost-per-thousand banners on Yahoo, pay-per-click ads on Google, ads in newsletters and e-zines, and a host of affiliates. I want to see a weekly and monthly calendar showing when those promotions start and end.

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image of Jim Sterne

Jim Sterne ( is the founder and director of Target Marketing (, founder of the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit, and the founding president and current chairman of the Web Analytics Association.