Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Starting a career in Web Analytics

Web Analytics is one of the hottest fields these days. A lot of people are planning to switch careers and many students are looking to start their career in Web Analytics.
“I am very interested in Web Analytics fields”, “It is a very interesting field, but how do I start a career in Web Analytics?” I have come across this question (and variations of it) a lot. So I thought, why not write an article to help people who are looking for a career in this field.

Skills required to be a Web Analyst

First and foremost you need desire and passion to be a web analyst. Desire and passion will get you where you want to go. I believe (and this is my opinion only), if you have the desire and passion then you can acquire other skills. Not everybody will agree with me but again that’s my view.

Other most important skill that you need is Analytical skill. If you are a person who always looks at the problem from a different angle than most of the other people, you have what it takes. If you can put different pieces of the puzzle together to form a complete picture you have the skills to be a web analyst. If you can critically look at things, you have the skills.

Other Skills and education that will come in handy are
1. Business
2. Marketing
3. Statistics
4. Technical

You don’t need a college degree but a lot of employers look for it and I look at it when hiring a candidate. Business, Marketing, Accounting, Statistics and Technical degrees will be very helpful in getting you the job but I have seen Web Analysts having diverse educational background.

Learning about web analytics

There are several resources available to learn about Web Analytics. There are several blogs on Web Analytics where you can get all levels of information on this subject.

First and foremost you should join WebAnalytics group on Yahoo. This forum is a great source of information. You will find all levels of web analysts in this forum. This is a free for all forum, even if you want to stay on sideline and just read message, you can learn a lot. If you have any question on this subject, feel free to ask at this forum.

Buy a copy of Web Analytics Demystified by Eric Peterson, this is the best resource for all levels of web analyst especially for those who are just starting. Other books that I recommend are also by Eric Peterson.
1. Web Site Measurement
2. The Big Book of KPIs

If you are prefer to learn in formal way then I recommend, the course offered by University of British Columbia. You can learn more about this course at http://www.tech.ubc.ca/metrics/curric.html. (I am one of the associate instructors for this course). This course is offered in partnership with Web Analytics Association (WAA)

Reading blogs, articles and whitepapers is another way to expand your knowledge.
Most of the blogs are of advanced nature, so I would recommend you familiarize yourself with the Web Analytics field (see above) before reading these blog. Two of the blogs that I recommend are Occam’s Razor by Avinash Kaushik and Web Analytics Demystified by Eric Peterson, the author of the books mentioned above. Both of these blogs have a list of lots of other blogs on Web Analytics. The more you read the better you will understand this field.

Gaining Practical Experience

Google Analytics (http://www.google.com/analytics) has made it real easy for anybody to get a web analytics tool. This tool is completely free with all the documentation to help you get rolling. If you have a website, deploy this tool and play with it. This will help you understand how web analytics tools and reports work.
To gain further experience, tap into your network, I am sure somebody (a friend of a friend of a friend…) will allow you (especially if you are willing to do it for free) to provide reporting and analysis on their site (real site).

Getting Paid, while you learn

There are several companies who are looking for entry level analyst. You don’t need any experience, all you need is desire to learn and grow. They will hire you, train you and provide the support to help you grow in this position.

Since you have read this article in it’s entirely, I am convinced you have the desire. Now let me see your passion. Go ahead and email me your resume if you want to get paid while you learn.

Note: I just added a list of books on Web Analytics, you can check them out at Web Analytics Bookstore


  1. Hi Anil,

    This is a great primer on getting started.

    One of the other things that is required is Dedication to getting better. Creating Passionate Users has a great article on this.

    Dedication and Passion will get you through more times than raw skill or knowledge alone.

    They are there when you are reading (for the tenth time) Jim Sterne and Matt Cutler's white paper on Business Metrics for the New Economy.

    They are there for you when you are doing the same analysis in a new way for the fifth time.

    If you have these two things, then you will create your own success in the field.

    Dylan Lewis

  2. Brad Wartthan6:55 AM

    Good article Anil. Great insight!


  3. Guillaume Tessier4:11 PM

    This is the article I was looking for.
    Still a student, I'm willing to become a Web analyst in France.
    Web analytics is quite new in my country. I'm trying to learn on my own so keep on giving us some relevant feed.

  4. Guillaume,

    I am glad you found this article useful. Please let me know if there are other question that you have and this article did not address.

    - Anil

  5. Hi Anil,

    How about knowledge about usability and information architecture? I find this knowledge essential when looking for causes for certain trends and user behaviour. By making a mini expert review (why is the form performing so badly), I am helping our usability expert to target his usability studies or am i able to make plausible hypothesis for our A/B and multi variate tests.


I would like to hear your comments and questions.