(Photo Courtesy: piwik.org)
(Photo Courtesy: piwik.org)

Analytics software comes in many different forms because it’s usually tailored to analyze a specific kind of file, database, or platform. As a result, you typically have a few options in each niche. For example, in the web analytics niche, you have Google Analytics, Aweber, and a few others.

Most people choose their tools based on reviews they’ve read or even the look of the interface, but by doing so, you could be missing out on a more well-rounded approach by overlooking software that you haven’t given a fair chance.

With that said, here are three of the most critical attributes to consider when conducting a thorough, independent comparison based on your own experience and opinions:

1. Amount of Useful Features
Some analytics software is very minimal with only a few features, while others are extremely robust and complex. The latter may seem preferable, but in many cases, the user is only cluttering their workflow with a bunch of options that they’ll never really use, when they could’ve just gone with a simpler, yet more effective tool. Thus, it’s not the sheer number of features and settings that matter, it’s the number of useful features that you’d want to consider when deciding which SharePoint analytics tools to use.

2. Reputation, Reliability, and Customer Service
Analytics tools need to be frequently updated, so it’s imperative that you choose an app that is well- maintained by a team of trusted and reputable developers. That way you can feel confident that the software will keep working even after its target platform has been updated. There have been cases of tools being broken after an update and customers having to wait days for the problem to be fixed. Don’t put yourself in the position of having to repeatedly contact and notify tech support about issues that they should already be working on.

3. Learning Curve and Performance
Software that is easy to use and consistently runs fast will always find its way into the analytics arsenals of professionals. However, power isn’t enough these days. If the power can’t be easily used, then it’s useless in the hands of most novice users. People want tools that can do amazing things while still having self-explanatory and intuitive interfaces that practically guide you through everything. This aspect should be especially important to someone who hasn’t yet gained experience working with the more advanced analytics software on the market.

Using Trials and Demos for a Hands-on Comparison
Perhaps the best way to make sure you’re getting a good look at the functionality of each software is to take advantage of the free trials that almost all analytic tools will provide. Some do not offer free trials, but will let you use an on-site demo instead. Either way is fine when taking the software for a test drive. Of course, if budgeting is not an issue for you in this department, you could just buy all of the top options to make sure you have a comprehensive suite of analytics tools.