In the first part of this arti­cle series, I men­tioned how some peo­ple are crit­i­cal of SiteCatalyst’s menu struc­ture that it has too many reports or options. The good news is that your com­pany has the abil­ity to mod­ify and tai­lor its Site­Cat­a­lyst menu lay­out to its unique busi­ness needs. A cus­tomized Site­Cat­a­lyst menu can play a key role in help­ing to drive adop­tion of Site­Cat­a­lyst within your orga­ni­za­tion — beyond your web ana­lyt­ics team and power users.

Key con­sid­er­a­tions for menu customization

Before you jump into cus­tomiz­ing your Site­Cat­a­lyst menus, you need to eval­u­ate a num­ber of key con­sid­er­a­tions that can impact your approach:

  1. Num­ber of active users: If you’ve just recently imple­mented or are in the process of imple­ment­ing Site­Cat­a­lyst, chang­ing the inter­face will have lit­tle or no impact because you haven’t yet estab­lished a group of active users. How­ever, if you have a small or large group of users who have been using Site­Cat­a­lyst for sev­eral years, you will need to seek their buy-in before mak­ing any changes. You don’t want to alien­ate your cur­rent user base. It’s impor­tant to not per­form your menu changes in a vac­uum so include your users in the redesign process. In addi­tion, once the changes are made, you’ll need to doc­u­ment the mod­i­fi­ca­tions and train your data con­sumers on the new menu struc­ture. You don’t want them to stop using reports sim­ply because they’ve been moved to a dif­fer­ent loca­tion in the menu.
  2. Diver­sity of end users: When you roll out a new menu lay­out for a par­tic­u­lar report suite, it will be the same for all users. As such you need to con­sider the needs of your entire user base. It may be help­ful to seg­ment your user base and build the new menu in a way that accom­mo­dates the unique needs of each stake­holder group. The folder struc­ture and cus­tom reports can be very help­ful in this regard (e.g., spe­cific fold­ers for the mar­ket­ing, mer­chan­dis­ing, edi­to­r­ial, exec­u­tives, etc.).
  3. Level of com­plex­ity: There are a num­ber of fac­tors that can impact the com­plex­ity of menu cus­tomiza­tion: quan­tity of report suites, diver­sity of menus, menu com­plex­ity, etc. The per­fect storm would be a high num­ber of diverse menus that require a high level of cus­tomiza­tion. In some cases, cre­at­ing a highly-customized menu lay­out for a sin­gle report suite may be harder than hav­ing to apply a sim­ple menu tem­plate to hun­dreds of report suites.

Whether or not your menu cus­tomiza­tion project is sim­ple or dif­fi­cult, it will require some fore­thought, plan­ning, and com­mu­ni­ca­tion with exist­ing stake­holder groups.

Best prac­tices for menu customization

As the com­mon say­ing goes, “Fail­ing to plan is plan­ning to fail”. If you decide to sig­nif­i­cantly change your Site­Cat­a­lyst menus, it’s a best prac­tice to design the new menus in an Excel spread­sheet first. Within the spread­sheet, you’ll want to doc­u­ment the names, folder hier­ar­chy, asso­ci­ated met­rics, report set­tings, report notes, etc. of your new menu struc­ture. If future changes are needed, this spread­sheet can serve as a valu­able reference.

Before you begin the process of menu cus­tomiza­tion, you’ll want to save a back-up copy of your cur­rent menu by cre­at­ing a copy of the report suite in the Admin Con­sole. Even though you have the option to Restore Defaults, doing so actu­ally takes your menu all the way back to the orig­i­nal defaults rather than the last point prior to when you saved the menu. With this approach, if the new menu doesn’t work out, you can always revert to what you had prior to any of the changes.

Another alter­na­tive approach is to place the entire stan­dard menu into its own folder so that users have the option of using the old struc­ture or the new struc­ture. Because you can’t dupli­cate default reports, you would use cus­tom reports to recre­ate reports in the new menu struc­ture. In addi­tion, hav­ing the stan­dard menus avail­able in a sep­a­rate folder may come in handy when you’re work­ing with our Client­Care orga­ni­za­tion on an issue. Note: In order to accom­mo­date the four-folder depth limit, you will need to up-level a few sub-folders within the Site Met­rics (Cus­tom Events 1–20), Vis­i­tor Pro­file (Sales Cycle), and Paths (Page Analy­sis, Entries & Exits) folders.

When you think of menu cus­tomiza­tion, you might be con­tem­plat­ing a major over­haul of your cur­rent Site­Cat­a­lyst menu lay­out, involv­ing a card sort­ing exer­cise with rep­re­sen­ta­tives from your key stake­holder groups. How­ever, opti­miz­ing your Site­Cat­a­lyst menu may be as sim­ple as just remov­ing annoy­ing aspects of your cur­rent reports to pre­vent unnec­es­sary ques­tions or inter­nal sup­port issues. You can replace default reports with cus­tom reports with the same name, which have been mod­i­fied to stream­line or improve the over­all report expe­ri­ence. For exam­ple, you can remove a con­fus­ing “None” line item in your reports by fil­ter­ing the report (“-none”) and sav­ing it as a cus­tom report. Other use­ful mod­i­fi­ca­tions may include adding more appro­pri­ate met­rics, sort­ing the data on a spe­cific met­ric, and apply­ing other fil­ters. Note: If you hide a default report, it will dis­ap­pear as a break­down in other reports (cor­re­la­tions and sub­re­la­tions). How­ever, if you move the default reports into a sep­a­rate folder as men­tioned above, you won’t lose the breakdowns.

You may want to relo­cate var­i­ous cus­tom vari­able reports (sprops, evars, and cus­tom events) to dif­fer­ent fold­ers in your new menu lay­out. When you’re label­ing these cus­tom vari­ables it may be a good idea to include the prop, evar, or event num­ber in the report name (e.g., “Inter­nal Search Terms (prop23)”). When you’re debug­ging tag­ging issues, hav­ing the vari­able num­ber in the report name helps with know­ing which report is tied to which vari­able tag.

Menu cus­tomiza­tion limitations

Although I’m very big on SiteCatalyst’s menu cus­tomiza­tion fea­ture, there are some lim­i­ta­tions. One lim­i­ta­tion that Adam Greco brought to my atten­tion is when you have clas­si­fi­ca­tions in your menu struc­ture, you can’t hide the source report of the clas­si­fi­ca­tions because you won’t be able to do any break downs on that clas­si­fi­ca­tion (e.g., traf­fic cor­re­la­tions). As a workaround solu­tion, I would demote the source report to the bot­tom of the sub-folder and poten­tially rename it (e.g., “US States Unclas­si­fied”). Not ideal but passable.

If you need to cus­tomize menus for a large num­ber of report suites (100+), another lim­i­ta­tion is the need to break up your report suites into more man­age­able batches. Rather than test­ing the lim­its of what the Admin Con­sole can han­dle, I would rec­om­mend per­form­ing the menu cus­tomiza­tion for no more than 100 report suites at one time.

Unfor­tu­nately, if you have both Site­Cat­a­lyst and Dis­cover, what­ever cool menu cus­tomiza­tion you develop on the Site­Cat­a­lyst side does not cur­rently port over to Discover’s menus. I’d love to see the menu cus­tomiza­tion mir­rored in Dis­cover so that both prod­ucts share the same menu lay­out. While I’m on the topic of fea­ture requests for menu cus­tomiza­tion, I’d love to see menus that are cus­tomiz­able by user group/type. Instead of hav­ing sep­a­rate fold­ers for each user group in my Site­Cat­a­lyst menu, you could cre­ate menus that are cus­tomized for dif­fer­ent user groups (e.g., mar­ket­ing users). Note: I’ve con­firmed that our prod­uct team is con­sid­er­ing both of these options as part of their efforts to improve the usabil­ity and adop­tion of SiteCatalyst/Discover.

Final words

A num­ber of peo­ple have found menu cus­tomiza­tion and cus­tom reports to be an under­used fea­ture of Site­Cat­a­lyst. Com­ment­ing on the com­plaint that Site­Cat­a­lyst isn’t “user-friendly” out of the box, Ben Gaines stated, “The prob­lem is that ‘user-friendly’ means dif­fer­ent things to dif­fer­ent orga­ni­za­tions; what might be an intu­itive UI for one com­pany may make no sense at all to another. Menu cus­tomiza­tion over­comes any such com­plaints. It is a great way to ensure that ANY organization’s users can find infor­ma­tion quickly and eas­ily.” Site­Cat­a­lyst menus that are quick and easy to use will help drive user adop­tion, which is one of the main goals of any data-driven orga­ni­za­tion.

If you need help with a menu cus­tomiza­tion project at your com­pany, please con­tact your assigned account man­ager or con­sul­tant. Our con­sult­ing team would love to help take your Site­Cat­a­lyst menus to the masses.