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Ask HN: What do you wish Google Analytics would do?
30 points by suhail on Feb 1, 2009 | hide | past | web | favorite | 57 comments
I think a lot companies get to a state where Google Analytics just isn't good enough, what do you guys think we could all use for analytics/metrics?



Have an API so I can pull the data out and use it elsewhere.


You can pay $2 a month for this -> getclicky.com


whoa. I just went to their site, by the looks of it they have all features requested here and more.

Specifically, they allow you to track one user's fate which is something I always wanted: http://getclicky.com/media/screenshots/visitor.gif

They also got data export, APIs and real-time stats.


I've been using their trial for the past few days, and I'm very impressed. The real-time stats are very interesting. My only gripes have to do with the lack of a few API features, but I'm sure they will improve in time.


Yeah, but the OP asked about Google Analytics.


I would also like the API to allow me to provision profiles so that I can create them for my customers then pull out the data with the API and integrate it into their dashboard.


That would make the developer of dashalytics life a lot easier.


That's definitely a good idea.


I'd like the ability to share part or all of my data to anyone, privately or publicly. And in the case of data I share publicly, I want it to be available on a page that is indexed by Google and doesn't require someone to login with a Google account.

Also, I'd like to see Google rank sites in a similar manner to Alexa, but with real data. I know that Quantcast does this, but having both GA and Quantcast JS beacons on my site is a waste of my users' load times and privacy.


I really do agree with your first idea: I would love to give my referals a login/pwd that would show the stats associated with their referal links: pages view/goals/$


Real-time stats, that's really something I miss a lot! Esp. considering that it's available in other stats tools...


What would be the use for you in real-time stats?

IMHO you use Web Analytics to optimize your Website and to monitor success of different aspects of your site. I don't think that real-time data would help there much and I don't think that Google Analytics would be the right tool to monitor load on your servers.


You just got on the front-page of digg, reddit, slashdot, or someone linked to your post and you want to know now instead of 4 hours ahead, because you want to update your post, stablish a conversation, activate static page cache, whatever. Or someone posts on a forum a link to your site telling how the release date of certain game is wrong, writing "bunch of lazy editors on site X" and you want to correct and post on the forum that you did.

Saying that Analytics is not for these kind of situations on a "feature request" thread is a little harsh, isnt? :) And the parent post did say similar services do provide this information...


You are right, I could have phrased my original reply more politely. I understand why you you would find it a useful feature because of the situations you describe, I would probably use other means and tools to detect your later case. I clearly see the usefulness of near real-time data in the first case.

To clarify, I worked a lot on Web Analytics at a Swiss Web Agency when I did an Internship there and I mostly focused on established sites there. They most definitely wouldn't be covered on digg or slashdot. We used Web Analytics to understand the inner workings of the Websites, to understand the longterm development of traffic sources etc. and we tried to identify trends which helped to make fact based decisions when it came to developing the Sites. Therefore I couldn't directly see a use for real-time data. I would much more prefer a finer granularity in the data those tools provide and to segment in more defined pieces but that both is an area where Google Analytics is catching up fast. If there is one request I could make for a feature in Google Analytics it would be to not have to provide Google with the data but to get a Version that I could run on my computer (Urchin is hopelessly outdated, or at least was when I last checked).


We have notifications for this kind of scenario built into statzen.com. We will be launching in a week or two.


That's exactly what I had in mind. Very important for the site I run as a side project. :)


Don't underestimate the -fun- factor in realtime stats. When people are personally invested in a website, they feel attached to the success & failure of it. That "hits/pageviews/visits" meter is direct reflection of that success. Seeing that number go up and down is an exciting time for people just starting out. It's the equivalent of seeing your first customers walk in at a brick and mortar store.


I'd have to agree, that's honestly a waste of time for a serious company. Technically, you should have better things to do.


Disagree?


Yeah, I guess I agreed with the guy below me.


Email me when unusual traffic spikes happen. Send me a daily email with my largest referrers and how much traffic they sent in.


Configurable alerts of any kind, email being one of them.


We can all admit that Google Analytics has a few failings. Maybe there -are- lots of companies who find it doesn't meet their needs. Personally, I feel like the issue isn't one of features, it's one of communication.

There are a large number of companies out there with websites, but very few of them have the time or talent to effectively configure a statistics package. These people have a problem - they want more sales/conversions/phone calls - and they have a tool - google analytics - but they can't be bothered to map their business objectives on to analytics.

In my opinion, if you can solve that problem, you're in business.

------------------------------

Completely off topic - why hasn't anyone built a hosted version of Mint? (http://haveamint.com)


I use and love Mint but Shawn doesn't seem to have any intention on growing it outside of a self-hosted web script, which is a shame cause there is a huge opportunity I think.

But in his defense, he's got a nice income off it with very low support requirements. Lets him do a lot of other cool stuff so I know he's keeping busy. He's definitely a smart guy.


piwik is an opensource one (which you can host), no?


Here is my picks :

- more vars (pageTracker._setVar, currently only 1 allowed)

- credentials for specific reports

- more goals (currently 4 allowed)

- mouse movement capture (see http://www.clicktale.com/features/watch-your-website-visitor...)

- api

- real time at least for the pages/views etc

- its corollary : notifications on alerts (spike, %more, %less)

- form analytics (see http://www.clicktale.com/features/form-analytics)

- automatic outbound links analytics (right now you have to do add some javascript manually to every link)

- remove data

- have a desktop version (like for adwords)

- have a better tracking of the adwords/targeted content network

- link google website optimizer to analytics (currently only with goals)

- navigation heatmap (show us visually the most common webflow used)


I'm surprised that this is the first post I've read that listed heatmaps.


These guys do heatmaps: http://crazyegg.com/


The ability to add notes to explain traffic spikes etc.


We had to basically create our own table in the DB and pages in our admin to track that. Not much time - ~2 hours - but it would've been 0 hours if it was built in :)

FYI: After having this in place for about 9 mths, I heartily recommend spending the 1-2 hours to do it.


I copy & paste the data into a Google Docs spreadsheet with a timeline graph. Not fancy, but works well: http://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=piq4ly7pudXhSfmYvc0Jd...


Which works for a while... We have nearly four years of history and, when I look at reports, it's nice to be able to write SQL queries that show me what events were around a time frame.


I currently use two providers for my analytics and stats - GA and SiteMeter.

As many have mentioned here the ability to have real time information is key to addressing possible traffic spikes and commentary that are happening about your site elsewhere. 24 hours seems like a short period of time, until you realize that someone has linked to your site that needs a response.

Also GA has some advanced features similar to Omniture that are actually hard to flush out. It is truly a powerful product and a simple howto to get this data out of the system would benefit many analytics folks I have talked to.

Distinctions between search and organic incoming traffic could be better categorized.


Visitor paths; i.e. "user A went from this page to this page to this page"

Visitor paths really help you see what pages are confusing your users. For example, using SiteCounter, we found that a lot of people would click the "login" link, and then would click the exact same link again, indicating they weren't sure if they got to the right page. As a result, we modified the page to look more like what someone would expect a login page would look like.


- better funnel graphs. Meaning their funnel logic doesn't work for anything but straight simple navigation - tree like. I would rather need something like what statviz generates.

- A drill down upto session level navigation.

- A query editor that can expose a view of the db of critical visit data. Could be more like a user writing MDX queries on cubes.

- Ofcourse, fixed time stats - A user knows the frequency of update on his/her site stats. (note i am not using real-time). On GA no one knows when does ones' site gets updated. I have had instances where partial traffic for a period gets updated. Instances where today's data has started coming in perfectly but yesterday's 2 hr window shows 0 visitors.


Honestly, it's just not intuitive enough for me. That said, some suggestions (technical feasibility disregarded)

* Show me referring URLs, not just domains * Click a day on the graph to see that day rather than having to reset the time period on the drop-down menu * Weighted averages: sorting by Bounce Rate is useless; I have lots of these one-off 100% Bounce Rates from one-time referrals. Weighted data so that I can see where my Bounce Rate sucks (or any other metric/Goal) only by those sending some useful level of traffic would be a godsend.


You can click through on referring domains to see the exact URL, but the URL parameters, which are often relevant/useful, aren't shown. For example: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=461131 would show up as: http://news.ycombinator.com/item


Best practices seems to be moving towards rewriting that url into http://news.ycombinator.com/item/461131


An API or some way to feed it other statistics and visitor information.

For example, you could hook it up to sliding door sensors or something like that and track flow of people entering and exiting a store.


Add an 'exclude weekends' option for reports on a given date range.


This is quite simple, so I wouldn't be shocked if it's been done before, but providing an RSS feed for stats/new referrers, etc.


Isn't that feedburner (which Google acquired?). Guess you mean they should integrate feedburner with GA.


I'm not super-familiar with Feedburner, but sure :)

To make sure we're talking about the same thing, I mean that I want to be able to subscribe to a feed that gives me stat information so I don't have to go into my analytics tool.


Feedburner "only" delivers stats about your Feed and not a Feed about your stats, so I think you weren't talking about the same thing :-)


I would love it if the analytics script was much less bloated. Seems that the extra time it takes to download what is basically a rather large javascript file could be seriously cut down by minimizing the script in some way.


I use antirez' visitors:

http://www.hping.org/visitors/

It's quick and simple. Sort of the opposite of analytics. But it's a nice way to quickly see what's happening.


Thanks for posting that link, Visitors was precisely what I happened to be looking for...


Ability to see your stats in realtime would be fantastic.


Let me export my raw hit data so I can run my own analyses, or switch to competitors if GA isn't gooing to add features.

And track clicks on AdSense ads as my goal.


Track individuals... tell me all dimensions on someone who looked at a piece of content... more intensive stats like WebTrends used to have.


You can do it using setVars, but unfortunately you are allowed to use only a single var.

Thus my first remark at http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=461349.

This analytics feature is one of the most precious one, but is too limited for now.


I'd like a simple way of looking at individual visitors.

Every GA report I looked at has it aggregated somehow.


See my reply here for tracking individual visitors http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=462121

If you really want a movie of your visitor checkout http://www.clicktale.net (#4 at http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=461349)


I played around with clicktake but it doesn't handle user logins at all.

Wish there was a way to simulate then but then you do run into privacy issues.


Ability to exclude registered users and zoom in on non-registered users.


Kissmetrics is going to address this problem head on


How so?




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