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.