Friday, January 7, 2011

Review - Croll & Power's Communilytics Master Class

January 07, 2011 Posted by Jason Irwin 1 comment

Quick Summary

Croll & Power's Communilytics Master Class

I was eager to watch these videos but didn’t know what to expect. Happily I was met with excellent content, explained by an entertaining an knowledgeable instructor in a very well-produced package.

Introduction

Like many developers, I am proficient in conceptualizing, designing, planning and implementing solutions, but after product delivery – when it comes to marketing and optimizing products for their target audience – my skillset thins out a little. While there is a wealth of information out there but finding cohesive and up-to-date information is near impossible. I was therefore excited to receive O’Reilly’s title Croll & Power’s Communilytics Master Class for review.

Production Quality

This is the first O’Reilly video series that I had watched and I approached the title with slight trepidation. The Master Class is the recording of an in-person class that has been formatted and made for sale. I’ve seen similar offerings from other vendors in the past where production value was an afterthought – oftentimes with such offerings it is impossible to see the slides/whiteboard the presenter is working from, audience questions are muted and video quality poor at best. Fortunately O’Reilly has done a great job on this title – and I am hopeful that their other titles are similar. Rather than pointing the camera at a screen/whiteboard, content slides have been merged into the feed during production and are displayed in full screen during video playback. Audio and video are crisp and the camera work is extremely professional (moreso than in any other classroom title I have seen). In essence production value is like a referee – you really only notice it when its bad…

The Speaker

While the content was created by Alistair Croll and Sean Power, Mr. Croll is the speaker for the entire master class. He does a fantastic job of engaging the viewer and blends pre-prepared and conversational information masterfully. The subject could have been extremely dry with plenty of numbers and statistics to quote, but is somehow delivered in an entertaining fashion throughout. Time flew by when watching these videos – a testament to both the content and Mr. Croll’s presentation skills. This is the first time I’ve seen anything delivered by Alistair Croll but I’ll make sure to look out for more in the future.

The Content

This series contains approximately 3.5 hours of video, full of valuable information regarding web analytics and community building. For the most part the information tends more towards descriptive than prescriptive as the course leads the viewer through many of the pitfalls and opportunities analytics helps to address, including a number of case studies. Data is quantified and claims are backed up with real world studies and experience. The content is extremely accessible and would be equally beneficial and comprehensible to a marketing manager or developer.

The Price

Compared to a $200 annual Tekpub subscription (and similar counterparts) the course seems a little expensive at $80. On the other hand, compared to attending such a class in person the price seems very reasonable. Inevitably spending decisions come down to cost benefit analysis and I can safely say there is a ton of information here to justify the purchase. It is difficult to put a price on knowledge. However, I tend to value an hour of my personal time (quite conservatively, may I add) at $20. I can say without a shadow of a doubt that the knowledge, tips and shortcuts in this series will save me more than 4 hours (and $80) in the future.

Conclusion

I was eager to watch these videos but didn’t know what to expect. Happily I was met with excellent content, explained by an entertaining an knowledgeable instructor in a very well-produced package. If anything this series needs a sequel – and I would be first in line to purchase it.