How Google Analytics Can Be Dramatically Improved

Back in May Google released a major redesign to it’s Analytics software. I think the new version is a big improvement, and I love a lot of the new functionalities. When it first came out, one of my main gripes was that you couldn’t click through to external referral sources. This was fixed about a month after release. Now I’ve had much time to play around with Google Analytics, and I have one more major gripe about it. I don’t like how you can really only look at data on a daily basis. For example, if I look at the past year of data for pageviews on this blog, my chart looks like this:\r\n

Google analytics pageviews one year

\r\nIn this instance, I want the option to see my data in a month to month comparison. The way it is done now, I can essentially see the data in a day-to-day format. We can see here that there is one huge disadvantage to looking at the past years data in the daily format. In April I had a huge spike in traffic, and it’s a big enough spike that the chart is pretty much useless to look at…Especially with the thick line that is used. Luckily, if I really needed the data in the format I want, Google allows you to export it, which I can then import into Excel and run the reports I really need. It shouldn’t be this way though. I feel like Google can make some fairly simple adjustments to make this much nicer:\r\n

  1. They can allow adjustment of the thickness of the line in the chart. The thicker line is great when looking at a chart for the past months data, but any sort of spike can cause the chart to be unreadable.
  2. \r\n

  3. They can allow for zooming capabilities. Maybe I only want to x-axis to have a smaller range because I know about the spikes.
  4. \r\n

  5. They can add a few shortcuts like they use in Google Finance for common timeframes, and adjust the chart style accordingly. In Google Finance a 1 day financial chart looks this (Note: I’m using the stock charts for Adobe (ADBE) as an example):
  6. \r\n


Adobe 1 day stock chart

\r\nGoogle offers their “zoom” shortcuts on the top left of the cart:\r\n

Zoom shortcuts in Google Finance

\r\nWhen you change the chart to 1 month for example, the chart zooms out, but also smooths out the lines:\r\n

Adobe 1 month stock chart

\r\nOn top of smoothing out the lines, it also changed the y-axis to daily vs. hourly. Changing the zoom to 1-year does the same thing, but the y-axis changes to monthly. It makes for a much cleaner and readable chart. As a side note, Adobe has been doing great over the past month, glad I picked up some stock back at 38!\r\n\r\nGiven that information, daily data over the course of a long period of time can be useful, so Google shouldn’t get rid of it…but they should add more options. Another feature from Google Finance that I like is the way that the timeline functionality works:\r\n

Google Finance timeline

\r\nI really like how it’s available underneath the chart for easy access at any time. Google Analytics has a timeline feature as well, but it’s more of a pain to use when the idea behind it is for quick data viewing. To utilize the timelie feature in Analytics you have to expand down the date tab, click the tab for timeline, and then move the box to the date range you want. On top of that, it only shows you about 3 months at a time, so if you want to use it to see the past year of data, you have to scroll it over for 9 months of data…it’s just a pain.\r\n

Google Analytics timeline

\r\nI think if Google can do a mixture of Google Finance and Google Analytics to re-do their Analytics chart system, they could dramatically improve the interface and usability of Analytics. Don’t get me wrong, Google Analytics is an awesome tool, but I think these improvements can make it so much better.\r\n\r\nDo you find this frustrating you just as much? Are there any other major improvements that you think Google can do?? If you feel the frustrations like I do, please Digg this article so that more people will know and Google can do something about it.

  1. Derek

    10/23/2007 10:17 am

    Dave, I think these would all be outstanding improvements to Analytics. You’ve made a great point that Google should take some of the features from their finance charts and include them here. Thanks for the great analysis.

  2. Brandon - Call Center Consultant

    11/08/2007 10:06 pm

    Dave, great writeup, I don’t know how I missed it.

  3. Paintworkz Web Design

    05/14/2008 12:26 pm

    Wow, this is a great post!!!

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