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malevolent design weblog

This blog is now defunct, but you can find more stuff over at my personal site

Analysing Analytics

I added Google Analytics (the new web stats service) to this site last week as an experiment, and one thing soon became clear: they can’t cope with demand. It took a couple of days for any data to show up, there’s still a lag of a day or two, and sign-ups have been suspended for now.

The reports are certainly useful if you want to delve into details and set up campaigns, goals, ROI calculations, etc., but rather unfriendly for beginners. In fact, the whole interface feels slow and over-engineered, it’s not obvious what you can click on and what’ll happen. I realise it’s aimed at site owners not consumers, and some aspects inevitably require advanced knowledge, but it should be clearer and simpler.

I’m starting to wonder if Google is paying anywhere near enough attention to design and usability. I’ve watched Hotmail and Yahoo! users struggle with and give up on Gmail, and Google Reader is appalling, surely the most confusing feed-reading software I’ve ever seen. It all gives the impression they’re busy revelling in their geekiness/intelligence while losing sight of what works for a wider audience. Just look at the ‘BETA’ label nonsense for starters.

Anyway, I’m going to continue with Google Analytics for a while and see how it goes, and will probably be using this weblog as a guinea pig for a few other experiments over the coming months; please excuse any squealing.

(Update: experiment over)


I've found it slightly ironic that the only thing to come out of Google without 'beta' in it's name has been Analytics, and it's the one thing that should have had it based on the service so far.

I'm finding it useful, but it does take a lot of digging and isn't going to be useful for everyone. It seems to be a re-worked version of Urchin stats, as bought by Google, and that wasn't really built with standard users in mind. Perhaps that's why they didn't expect such a large number of sign-ups for the service.

I agree with you about their interfaces, and I think they could do with more consistency across all their various services. It seems they're trying to build anything that comes to mind at the moment, rather than having a decent focus. That said, Analysis seems to plug together with Adwords, which is a good thing for people running Google-based PPC campaigns.

Paul, 22nd Nov, 11:09pm

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