How will Web Analytics change with HTML5?

Mark  Ryan

February 01, 2011

Related Topics

We have been testing out a lot of new elements with HTML5 and having a lot of fun with it.  Something's that interest me about HTML5 is how it will change web analytics.  The following are some thoughts about HTML5 and Web Analytics.

HTML 4 Tagging HTML5 Web Analytics

  • Video player:  HTML5 significantly decreases the complexity in embedding video into websites.  This will likely lead to more videos on websites, increasing the need to track how visitors interact with videos.  Tracking actions such as clicks on links within videos, clicks on video controls such as play, stop, skip, rewind, etc,  and tracking time spent viewing a video are going to become more common.  Today none of the major web analytics companies have great tags for tracking videos (i.e. flash videos).  Tagging videos is currently difficult and highly error prone.  I'm hoping the video tracking tags are going to improve significantly as HTML5 goes mainstream.  One great step is certain, no more Flash means a lot easier video tracking!
  • Canvas:  Probably my favorite set of new features in HTML5 are the Canvas functions.  Canvas has the potential to significantly increase the amount of interaction on a website while decreasing the amount of time it takes to implement dynamic graphics that previously required a heavy client such as Flash or Silverlight.  Event tagging will become critical to understand how users interact with this dynamic functionality.  Luckily, most analytics suites are great at tagging JavaScript events already, and this same functionality can be used within Canvas.
  • Geo-Location:  Today analytics reports on location and with a little coding you can find where you GPS enabled mobile users are.  New functions such as getCurrentPosition and watchPosition are going to allow the page tags to report position and motion back to the servers.
  • Offline:  Hmmm.. How do we report visitor data back to the server when there is no connection to the server?  We wait patiently.  Functions/elements such as ApplicationCache, localstorage, Sessionstorage, and web SQL database will allow dynamic pages to function without any network connection.  While the concept of being "unconnected" may be scary to a lot of us, it's even scarier to a web analyst.  The javascript tags will be able to keep track of visitor interaction with a page, but not report it back to the server.  New tags will need to be able to keep usage data in the localStorage and report it back when the user connects later on.
  • Form Elements:  The new form elements actually don't change web analytics much.  Automated form validation may reduce the amount of information we have about how our visitors interact with form elements.

I think the most critical piece of the HTML5 - Web Analytics evolution is that people will be interacting with web sites and web applications in a more dynamic nature.  New web analytics tags that utilize the advanced features of HTML5 will give us deeper insights into how visitors want to interact with web sites.  This knowledge should allow site owners to achieve a much high level of usability with all web functions.