Google Analytics – A first impression

The last couple of the days, the whole world wide web seem to be talking about Google and their latest release, Google Analytics. Since I thoroughly enjoy Gmail, think Google Maps is pretty cool and, naturally, use the search engine daily, I was intrigued to say that they were releasing a statistic service in the form of Google Analytics. And for free!

Of course I could’ve written a post right away telling about the release, but I wanted to test it first to tell you about my first impressions. Apparently it took 12 hours to get the account activated after signing up, a truth with modifications if you asked people who tried. After maybe 20 hours the account kicked in. Fair enough, I know everything about deadlines and tight releases schedules.

There seems to be lot of different views and ways of analyzing the data collected, all presented in a design that’s easy on your eyes. All you need to use it is to create an account (or use your Gmail one) and to include a JavaScript in the pages of your web site. Two things that bothered me right away were:

It’s not real time
To me, then it definitely loses its main attraction. I want to be able to check what has happened the last hours, hell, even the last minutes. Live, ok? Now it seems I can only see the data from the day before; that is, when the day is over according to US time. Pretty annoying if you’re located in Sweden.
No localization
There seems to be no way, at least not as far as I can find, to localize the time zone and the ways dates are presented. The American date format is pretty disturbing for the rest of the world, if you don’t know that.

On top of that, it gave off some inconsistent behavior in different pages, but I guess every new release has its problems. However, just before I wrote this post, I tried to sign in to check if it was more stable now, and guess what happened? Every time I signed in, I got redirected to the start page of the search engine. WTF? I mean, really…

For the moment, I’m pretty disappointed. If a product/service is as shaky as Google Analytics seems to be right now, cancel it. Pull the plug. Fix the problems and re-release when it works, before it has created such enormous badwill (or perhaps that’s already too late).

But what if they succeed?

Well, then this might become interesting. It’s a free service which supposedly offers a lot of ways to analyze your stats; it’s bound to compete with other services. What will happen with things like Mint, Measure Map and StatCounter? Will they be pushed to become better? Will all aspects of those mentioned, as well as other statistics services, become free? Who knows…?

What does Robert use?

I use StatCounter, and so far I’m very pleased with it. It has always worked but one time, and then I got instant feedback and support, and within an hour or two it was working fine again. Maybe it doesn’t offer as many ways to check the data as Google Analytics, but I prefer a small reliable service over a bulky shaky one any day.

I’m also very interested in what Measure Map will come up with. I signed up for an invitation a while ago (re-did it today), but still haven’t heard from them. If you guys read this, let me try it! :-)

Why not Mint, you say? It’s created by the multi-talented (I did a search for multi-talented, by the way, and one of the results was Vin Diesel. Ha ha ha!) Shaun Inman, and people say it’s really good. I have two simple replies to that: I want it to be free and I don’t want to host it myself. Simple as that, but I do wish Shaun all the best and I’m sure he’ll do fine without me as a customer. :-)

I also wonder, if you use one, what statistics software do you use? Let me know!


More reading


PS. By the way, why haven’t Google released Gmail to the public yet? Let people use it, it’s great. If you want a Gmail account, but don’t have an invite, just write a comment and tell me. I can send you one right away. DS.

PS 2. Thanks to Dejan who first tipped me about Google Analytics. DS.

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