Are you ready for the new Google Analytics user interface?

At the Google Analytics user conference in San Francisco (GAUGE), Google announced a major update to Google Analytics. Early reports indicated that the beta version would be rolling out to user accounts over the next few months and gave an overwhelmingly positive review of the changes. Now that I’ve had a chance to poke around in it myself, I have some pretty strong opinions about it. While there are some good points, there are also plenty of bad ones, and I’m not holding back on what I think of them.

Do you have it yet?

When you log into your Google Analytics account, look at the account settings at the upper right.

When you click on this link, you’ll be taken from this:

to this:

Welcome to the new Google Analytics!

New Look and Feel

It doesn’t seem so different just one page in, but let’s take a deeper look.

Clicking in to an account in the beta, we are taken to a “Visitors Overview” page which closely resembles the old default analytics dashboard.

It’s not called the dashboard anymore, though – that’s now something else entirely. And note that the visitor overview’s resemblance to the old dashboard begins and ends with the blue line and the stats section immediately below it. The map, top content and other basic widgets are gone. Where did they go? Well, they’re still in the dashboard, actually, but Dashboards are no longer categorized as reports. You now must click through using the Dashboard link at the upper left to see it.

Dashboards

The Timeline is probably the most valuable addition to the data, since it allows some impressive data comparisons. In the example above I’ve set Visits against Unique Pageviews. It’s also worth noting that you can now create multiple dashboards. So if you want to track different types of data on different pages, or if Patti wants to see a different dashboard than Kristen, you can totally set that up now.

Reports

To get to the reports, hover over “MySite” to unlock a drop down menu, then click on “Reports”. This is actually where Google Analytics dropped you off when you first logged in. Dashboards, Custom Reports and Intelligence have been moved out of the side navigation and into the new top navigation. The side navigation now holds only report links. In an obvious nod to the growing importance of conversion rate optimization, Goals has been rebranded as Conversions. Additionally, the “My Customizations” section is now gone. The Custom Reports link there was a bit redundant, as was Intelligence, and both are now in the top nav anyway. Advanced segments are now accessible from each report, and Email is missing entirely. I’m seriously hoping that last one is an oversight.

I have one crazy change to note here. Want to see what keywords your visitors used to find you? It used to be as simple as going to the “Keywords” report, but no longer. “Keywords” has been remonickered “Search” and now has three subcategories. Casual users may not know to click “Incoming Sources”, THEN “Search”, THEN “Organic” to get the reports they’re accustomed to seeing. It’s probably a good one to add as a dashboard widget.

Cool New Stuff

Events as Goals

I’ve been railing against the inflexibility of goal tracking since I took over the care and feeding of our Google Analytics accounts, so the addition of a fourth goal type is welcome. Now, if you can put event tracking on it, you can track it as a goal. That could be ebook downloads, video plays, you name it. I still want the ability to build goals onto advanced segments, though. I’ll keep wishing.

Term Clouds

Google took note of the popularity of keyword visualization tools like Wordle and added term clouds to their visualization options on select reports. Drill down to your organic keywords, then change the “View” to “Term Cloud”. From there, you can have it “sort” by a number of different metrics, from visits to bounce rate. The bigger the word, the higher the number. In the example above, we’re looking at which keywords have the highest number of pages per visit. For a bounce rate sort, big words are the ones you want to shrink.

Comparing two table items against each other

Looking at a big list of referrers, if you want to, say, compare Twitter and Facebook, just check the boxes next to them and hit the “Plot” button at the bottom to see how they stack up against each other. Sure you could do it with an advanced segment, but this is quicker for the little one-offs we sometimes want to see.

Not So Cool Stuff

They took away the ability to export to PDF.

See that? Your only options now are spreadsheets. Not cool, Google. Totally not cool.

No more scheduled reports via email

Even if they did still allow us to schedule reports to be emailed regularly, we would be limited to CSV or TSV files, so this particular #fail is a bit anti-climactic.

Secondary dimension restrictions that really suck

Here’s what I used to be able to sort by:

I can’t get a screen grab that shows everything missing from the beta thanks to collapsible categories that only open one at a time combined with scroll bars, but trust me, it’s significantly reduced. Several of the secondaries I use on a regular basis are just missing – such as “Service Provider” (or “Network” as it’s now known) for example. Applied to direct traffic, you can see if your client is skewing his own traffic due to a missed IP filter. That was incredibly useful, and now it’s pretty much gone. I’d prefer to retain access to the full range of dimensions there. If the goal was to make Google Analytics more robust and more enterprise-friendly, that was, without a doubt, a step in the wrong direction.

The Verdict

The Google Analytics beta feels very, very beta – lots of bugs (creating Intelligence alerts just flat out doesn’t work), and lots of things missing that are hopefully just oversights to be fixed before they take the training wheels off. The new navigation isn’t much of an issue once you understand how things are laid out, but the learning curve for casual users may be a bit steep due to the relabeling and recategorization of many standard top level reports.

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6 Responses to “Are you ready for the new Google Analytics user interface?”

  1. Deandre Royse Says:

    It’s the exact reason why Harry Potter had to suffer through years of Defense Against the Dark Arts classes at Hogwarts, so that he could aptly respond when he came across a Deatheater.

  2. Emiko Gerfin Says:

    Thanks for this post. I definitely agree with what you are saying. I have been talking about this subject a lot lately with my mother so hopefully this will get him to see my point of view. Fingers crossed!

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