Intranet Professional
Volume 3 • Number 6
November/December 2000

Intranet Metrics: Part 1
Dave Hook, Business Research Supervisor, MacDonald Dettwiler Space & Advanced Robotics Ltd.

I have a manager who likes metrics. He likes to be able to measure value for dollars and to ensure that his engineers are using the intranet for its intended purposes. I, as owner of the intranet, need to know what parts are being used (or not used) and where problems are occurring, as well as needing to justify that the intranet was a worthwhile investment. Thus, we both need a good means of generating intranet usage statistics.

There are several methods available for counting hits on Web pages, but not all of these means are geared towards intranets. There are external sites that will record usage statistics for you, such as NedStat [], SiteMeter [], or Stats4All []. These sites are worth having a look at simply to see the various slices they take with the data and how they graphically present this data. NedStat’s [] is particularly detailed. Unfortunately, these sites will not help you if your intranet server is behind a firewall.

There are also free counter scripts that you can put on an individual page (several examples are available through, but these devices are often intrusive, sometimes including banner ads, and can only measure usage of one page.

Fortunately, there are several software packages available that reside on your intranet server and allow you to analyze your server’s log files.
I recently installed on our intranet server one such package, called Analog. [A free download is available at] Although it can’t identify unique visits and its setup procedure is somewhat “user-hostile,” it can generate some very useful statistics. By recording statistics on the number of page hits over a 1-month period, I found that I was able to do the following:

Convince management that the intranet is a worthwhile investment
From usage statistics, I found that the number of unique users having visited the intranet in 1 month was virtually equal to the number of people who had access to it. Thus, virtually everyone in the company used it at least once during that month. As well, the number of hits per day can be an important measure of usage and may be helpful in justifying a need to add additional or faster servers.

Estimate a return on investment (ROI)
To begin estimating an ROI, look at what the intranet is replacing in terms of time or money. In our case, I found that the library home page was the third most requested page. The way I see it, every hit on the library home page is a time-savings either in my time or in the time it would take for a client to come and visit the library.

Determine which features of your intranet are most important
Looking at the most requested pages, I found that our company’s ISO9000 Policy and Procedures documents were being well used, which is a positive sign. Knowing which pages are most used, I was also able to prioritize which pages should be improved or developed. If your intranet is broken up into departmental sections, you can see which departments are the biggest intranet users.

I also found that when a new feature or page was advertised on the intranet’s home page, it would guarantee a high number of hits. In other words, advertising on the home page can be very effective.

Determine which features of your intranet are not being used
If certain pages have low usage numbers, it is an indication that either the page is not very popular—and therefore should be a lower priority to develop—or that people are just not aware of its existence.

Determine your intranet’s navigability
I found that in 1 month, the intranet’s site map and search page were the fifth and sixth most requested pages. By dividing the number of hits to these pages by the number of hits to the intranet home page, I could estimate that approximately 3 percent of all visits to the intranet required one of these methods to find the required site. 

A high number of hits on a page that is not easily accessible from the main page indicates that the popular page should be moved up in the hierarchy.

Determine peak/low usage times
Most log analyzers will be able to tell you when your times of peak and low usage occur, so that you can appropriately schedule intranet downtime.

Keeping intranet usage statistics presented us with very useful results. We were able to learn which of the company policies and procedures were being read and which ones were not. We also found that one of the most popular pages was our database of company acronyms—perhaps a sign that the company uses far too many acronyms!!

In the next issue, I will examine and review some of the available log analysis software packages, both the free ones and the full packages.

Dave can be reached at

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