UX Magazine

Defining and Informing the Complex Field of User Experience (UX)
Article No. 176 May 8, 2007

New Google Analytics: First Impressions

Google’s limited beta release of the next iteration of their analytics tool has landed and we were lucky enough to experience it first hand. While there was never any questioning of the tool’s value many had complained about the complex and uneven interface. Indeed, after the acquisition of web-analytics developer Urchin, Google was very quick to release a free, re-branded yet unfortunately still rather clunky version of the popular commercial statistics application. In our opinion, Google Analytics’ interface had always let it down and while its detailed reporting undoubtedly filled many a stat-junkie with glee its best features were frustrating to find within the disjointed UI. Until now, that is.

With its wealth of features, depth and stats-heavy content redesigning Analytics was never going to be a simple task but thankfully it was handled admirably. The new interface is proof of the talent that exists within Google’s UI team. It’s a gem: clean, clear, and designed with purpose. Don’t expect major new base features like real-time stats (reports are still delayed by hours and hours) bar some neat e-mailing tools, this is very much an interface upgrade and in many ways an entirely new experience. Here are some notable improvements:

  • Better structure: Tools are logically organized (Visitors, Sources, Content & Goals).
  • Flexible dashboard: You can intuitively add most reports to the dashboard.
  • Clearer charts: The new dynamic charts use up all available screen real-estate to great effect.
  • More intuitive: Most items are hyperlinks. Clicking on a pie chart slice will drill down to that section allowing you to access details nearly instantly.
  • Prettier: Everything from the charts to the typography have been overhauled. Makes the entire experience far more enjoyable.
  • More approachable: Neatly organized, friendly in its design, Analytics says “hello, try me!” — contextual help is the icing on the cake.

Within the next few weeks the upgrade will be rolled out globally. Google has cleverly provided a tool that helps users find their way around the new interface by matching the destinations to the old one. Be sure to check out the guided tour to see what you can expect.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR(S)

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Alex is CEO of Sideshow , an award winning creative agency. You can read his blog here.

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Comments

18
19

I agree with your overall assessment. This was a big win for Google UX team (Veen/MeasureMap talent included obviously). For first few minutes, I just couldn’t feel anything other than just how un-Google the experience was. In general Google apps don’t ‘bubble up’ anything with their information design (with possible exception of Google Reader home page). And I was glad to see the use of sparklines that augments the raw numbers that tells a visual story behind the numbers.

15
17

I too am rather impressed with it’s interface. I especially appreciate the ability to create dashboards to view the information I need most. I have ran into a few problems (which I’m assuming is a result of it still being in beta) is 1) The ability to view today’s numbers and 2) when i click on certain reports within the UI, it mysteriously switches accounts on me. But, I’m sure google will fix these in due time.

15
17

sorry to disappoint you users who think you are going to be getting a great product.. you are not.. here are just a few of the issues I have seen..

1. Buggy in Firefox (crashes it consistently)
2. Graphics are too large and text is equally as obnoxious
3. Data that used to be viewable on the front page are now 3-5 levels deep
ex. New maps – I used to be able to look at the executive summary and see where people came from and numbers right there. Now I have to do region/country/city before I can see anything – this is huge esp when monitoring activity of 500k visitors
4. no network location cross-reference data
— includes kw (no data)
5. Cannot see all goal data at the same time
6. Cannot compare visits, pageviews and conversions at the same time
7. Not organized well – things do not follow a logical progression
8. Items are difficult to locate
9. No real navigational elements
10.Can only view 100 items at a time instead of 500 not bad on small sites, but on a large site where we get 1/2 a million visitors a month it is severely restrictive
11. cannot sort data at all in certain areas.. if it gives you back the lowest ranked kw there is now way to switch to the largest.. so with 55k kw’s i have no way to access data.. that is simple..
12. no summary at the end of the column, so you have to scroll up to view the overall numbers (ie conversion rates or number of visits) etc etc etc…the issues go on and on and on .. slick is not always best and that horrible graph at the top gives me a headache every time i use it …

and this is just from the first 15 mins of using it.
I will go back to the old til they force the new, but I think they made a horrible mistake – along the lines of IE 7 – it is a lousy product! Only people who use analytics for cursory data will be ok with this – if you are a heavy user for a corporate or high trafficked site these changes are going to severely limit your business model.

why is everyone so impressed with unnecessary bells and whistles and ignoring how non user friendly this app is.. i just want my information – I don’t have time to work this hard to get it..

19
18

Posting it: Actually, the near-unanimous positive reviews of the upgrade don’t focus on bells and whistles as such. This is very much an update of the UI and many seem to think that it’s a resounding success.

It has never once crashed on me (in Firefox) and I use it extensively daily.

In such a drastic update some elements must have become casualties but the feedback I’ve been hearing/reading from users with sites of varying traffic is that the new version is better than the old one. Yours is actually the first truly negative review I’ve come across. Actually, people say pretty much the opposite: everything is easier to locate, much nicer navigation, nice clear big numbers.

Much of the interface is customizable so I would try to see if you can’t get modules to show where you want them. With a site that gets 500k unique visitors you could probably switch to a commercial analytics application which suits your needs better. Maybe there’s a way to get an older version of Urchin 6 somewhere which is essentially using the old interface.

17
16

I hate learning new interfaces.

14
20

Ali: The truth is that the new interface has vastly improved my experience with Analytics. I’m not a marketing savvy character, and I want my information straight up. With the new Analytics it’s just that. I’ve customized the home page – and after a few clicks & drag’n‘drops – I’m set. Cheers to the creators, the people behind the curtains…

19
16

These tips are really useful for SEO, i have also found some tips forSEO.

18
16

These tips are really useful for SEO, i have also found some tips forSEO.

18
20

Ali: The truth is that the new interface has vastly improved my experience with Analytics. I’m not a marketing savvy character, and I want my information straight up. With the new Analytics it’s just that. I’ve customized the home page – and after a few clicks & drag’n‘drops – I’m set. Cheers to the creators, the people behind the curtains…

16
15

I hate learning new interfaces.

16
20

Posting it: Actually, the near-unanimous positive reviews of the upgrade don’t focus on bells and whistles as such. This is very much an update of the UI and many seem to think that it’s a resounding success.

It has never once crashed on me (in Firefox) and I use it extensively daily.

In such a drastic update some elements must have become casualties but the feedback I’ve been hearing/reading from users with sites of varying traffic is that the new version is better than the old one. Yours is actually the first truly negative review I’ve come across. Actually, people say pretty much the opposite: everything is easier to locate, much nicer navigation, nice clear big numbers.

Much of the interface is customizable so I would try to see if you can’t get modules to show where you want them. With a site that gets 500k unique visitors you could probably switch to a commercial analytics application which suits your needs better. Maybe there’s a way to get an older version of Urchin 6 somewhere which is essentially using the old interface.

19
15

sorry to disappoint you users who think you are going to be getting a great product.. you are not.. here are just a few of the issues I have seen..

1. Buggy in Firefox (crashes it consistently)
2. Graphics are too large and text is equally as obnoxious
3. Data that used to be viewable on the front page are now 3-5 levels deep
ex. New maps – I used to be able to look at the executive summary and see where people came from and numbers right there. Now I have to do region/country/city before I can see anything – this is huge esp when monitoring activity of 500k visitors
4. no network location cross-reference data
— includes kw (no data)
5. Cannot see all goal data at the same time
6. Cannot compare visits, pageviews and conversions at the same time
7. Not organized well – things do not follow a logical progression
8. Items are difficult to locate
9. No real navigational elements
10.Can only view 100 items at a time instead of 500 not bad on small sites, but on a large site where we get 1/2 a million visitors a month it is severely restrictive
11. cannot sort data at all in certain areas.. if it gives you back the lowest ranked kw there is now way to switch to the largest.. so with 55k kw’s i have no way to access data.. that is simple..
12. no summary at the end of the column, so you have to scroll up to view the overall numbers (ie conversion rates or number of visits) etc etc etc…the issues go on and on and on .. slick is not always best and that horrible graph at the top gives me a headache every time i use it …

and this is just from the first 15 mins of using it.
I will go back to the old til they force the new, but I think they made a horrible mistake – along the lines of IE 7 – it is a lousy product! Only people who use analytics for cursory data will be ok with this – if you are a heavy user for a corporate or high trafficked site these changes are going to severely limit your business model.

why is everyone so impressed with unnecessary bells and whistles and ignoring how non user friendly this app is.. i just want my information – I don’t have time to work this hard to get it..

16
14

I too am rather impressed with it’s interface. I especially appreciate the ability to create dashboards to view the information I need most. I have ran into a few problems (which I’m assuming is a result of it still being in beta) is 1) The ability to view today’s numbers and 2) when i click on certain reports within the UI, it mysteriously switches accounts on me. But, I’m sure google will fix these in due time.

14
18

I agree with your overall assessment. This was a big win for Google UX team (Veen/MeasureMap talent included obviously). For first few minutes, I just couldn’t feel anything other than just how un-Google the experience was. In general Google apps don’t ‘bubble up’ anything with their information design (with possible exception of Google Reader home page). And I was glad to see the use of sparklines that augments the raw numbers that tells a visual story behind the numbers.