One complaint I occasionally hear about the SiteCatalyst interface is that there are just too many reports or options. If you’re new to SiteCatalyst or even web analytics, logging into SiteCatalyst for the first time can be a daunting experience. Without any training or guidance from a more experienced user, novice users may struggle to find the right information. A portion of these new users will invest the time to learn the tool and leverage its power, but others may give up prematurely. If you want to drive adoption of SiteCatalyst across your organization, you need to ensure new or causal users have a good experience with its interface and reports.
Rather than looking at all of the reports and options in SiteCatalyst as a problem, you need to view them as an opportunity. In addition to providing more options, SiteCatalyst gives you the flexibility to create your ideal menu structure through menu customization. Nobody walks into a Subway restaurant and says “too many options”. No one is going to build their sandwich using every possible bread, meat, vegetable, and sauce combination at the same time – not even a candidate for the Biggest Loser TV show. Instead, you build a custom-made sandwich with the specific ingredients that you want. The more options your Subway restaurant provides, the more likely that you’ll be able to create your dream sandwich and not have to settle for something less appetizing. (Remind me not to write blog posts when I’m hungry).
Surprisingly, many companies don’t realize that the out-of-the-box SiteCatalyst menu structure can be fully customized like a submarine sandwich, using SiteCatalyst’s menu customization feature and custom reports. You’re not stuck with a limited set of options – you can make your SiteCatalyst menu as simple or as advanced as your users need.
How to customize your SiteCatalyst menu
Before I discuss some of the best practices and potential limitations, I’d like to focus on the basics of customizing a SiteCatalyst menu. First, you need to be an admin user in order to access the Admin Console where you can customize the menus. Second, if you are an admin user, you navigate to the menu customization area using the following steps:
- Click on Admin button (top-right)
- Select Report Suites from the drop-down menu
- Select the appropriate report suite and then click the Edit Settings button
- On the drop-down menu, select General
- At the bottom of the General slide-out menu, you click on Customize Menu
Once you’re in the Menu Customization tool, you have the following key options:
- Reposition folders or reports to new locations: You may not like the order, hierarchy, or organization of the SiteCatalyst folders or reports. With this feature, you can re-arrange them to what’s most logical for your company.
- Create new folders: You may want to include additional folders or subfolders to better organize your organization’s reports.
- Hide folders or reports: Some of the default reports may not be relevant to your business (e.g., commerce reports for a government organization) or you may want to streamline the menu structure by removing less important reports that you feel may distract your users. (Note: you can only hide default folders or reports, not delete them).
- Rename folders or reports: You may want to rename default folders and reports using internal terminology so that they are more intuitive and clear for your end users.
After you make all of your changes to the menu and save them, you can either log out of SiteCatalyst and log back in to see your menu changes, or just select a different report suite from the drop-down selector and then return to the modified report suite to see the menu changes (preferred method). Using these various customization features, you can create a SiteCatalyst menu structure that is more user-friendly and tailored to your specific organization.
Add custom reports to your SiteCatalyst menu
Custom reports are another important tool in your SiteCatalyst menu customization efforts. If you’ve ever needed specific metrics or filters for certain reports, custom reports allow you to save pre-configured reports for ongoing usage. For example, you might need to create a report for your men’s apparel category manager, which filters out data that doesn’t pertain to men’s products. In another example, you might have a “follower” metric, which only makes sense within a specific social media report. You might add this follower metric to the social media report and create a custom report so that it always appears in the right context.
As shown above, once you’ve configured a default report to your liking (e.g., editing metrics, filters, data ranges, graph types, subrelations, and other report options), you simply click on the “Custom Report” button (below the default report name) and give the custom report a unique name. The new custom report will appear in the default Custom Reports folder at the bottom of a standard SiteCatalyst menu.
Custom reports can be leveraged in a variety of ways to further augment your SiteCatalyst menu customization efforts:
- Replace a default report: You can make a simple tweak to a default report (e.g., change the Revenue metric) and create a slightly-altered custom report, which you can then substitute for the original report in the menu structure.
- Add a default calculated metric: Using the default metric setting, you can change the default metrics for all reports. However, you can’t assign a calculated metric as a default. With a custom report, you can add calculated metrics as default metrics (e.g., bounce rate, conversion rate, etc.).
- Make multiple copies of a default report: You may want to have multiple instances of the same report in different folders. You can’t make duplicate copies of default SiteCatalyst reports, but can make multiple copies of a custom report.
- Create highly customized reports: Using custom reports, you can completely rebuild your SiteCatalyst menu with a collection of highly customized reports, which more closely serve the unique reporting needs of your various user groups.
You now have two key building blocks for creating more user-friendly SiteCatalyst menus. You can reconfigure the default menu structure in whatever manner will work best for your company and its end users. For many companies this may mean dramatically simplifying and streamlining the out-of-the-box menu options in SiteCatalyst. For other organizations, it may mean complementing and enhancing the existing reports with additional customized reports.
In one example, one of our consultants worked with a car manufacturer on their SiteCatalyst menu layout and designed it so that it guides users through an analytical process:
- Establish how much traffic volume.
- Look at where that traffic came from.
- Determine the onsite behaviors of those people.
- Investigate how the behaviors relate to key conversions and goals.
This is just one of many different layout approaches that are possible with menu customization. Just like you choose what goes into your favorite sandwich at the local deli, your organization has the ability to choose what goes into its own menu structure. At Adobe, we love choice.
DISCLAIMER: Before you dive headfirst into reworking your company’s SiteCatalyst menus, I would encourage you to hit the pause button until you’ve read the next part of this two-part article series, where I will share some key considerations, best practices, and potential limitations related to menu customization.