Website traffic reports are generated from the log files that are kept by a web server. These logs contain records of every request for pages, graphics and files on the server. The records include the IP address of the requesting computer (not the actual identity of the visitor), the time and date of the request, what kind of browser requested the file, what kind of computer was being used, and whether or not the request was successfully fulfilled. The raw log file is a running list of technical information and it's not very helpful to look at. That's where software like Urchin comes in. Urchin reads these log files and then presents the information in ways that are much more comprehensible and helpful to site owners.
We have set up Urchin to compile and generate our traffic reports on a nightly basis. One of Urchin's nice features is that it allows you to set and view your traffic information by whatever date range you set. Urchin's interface is very easy to use. Simply click on the "enter range" link below the calendar display and a window pops up where you can visually select the start and end date for the range you are interested in analyzing. The report adjusts its numbers on the fly when you click "Apply Date Range."
There are six groups of reports available in the Urchin system: Traffic, Pages & Files, Navigation, Referrals, Domains & Users, and Browsers & Robots. The "Traffic" group is the default group when you first open up Urchin. It contains four different ways of reporting traffic. It reports site activity by session, pageviews, hits, bytes, and then gives a summary view of all four. The default screen upon log-in is perhaps the most useful bit of information; it describes the number of site sessions or unique visits.