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The wildly confusing world of Google Analytics


I've been doing web design for a long time. And although the only clients that I have now are "grandfathered in" (I don't do web design anymore), the small amount of work that I do for them reminds me how frustratingly difficult it is for people in the industry. One of the worst interfaces is Google Analytics.

Like most failed interfaces, I'm pretty sure they meant well. The idea was to give you some information about how your website was performing. That is, how many visits it's getting, that sort of thing. It's still the most often question I get from my clients - how many visits am I getting? And it seems a simple enough question.

Unfortunately, Google Analytics has become what I call the "dashboard of a 747". There's so much information (added, no doubt, by request) that it's nearly impossible to get simple information. And even when I find something that I would like to refer back to, there's no way to bookmark it, as it's drilled down through an incredibly complex labyrinth.

As a teacher of software, the first thing I always recommended was to simplify the workspace. That is, set aside all of the stuff that you may or may not need, for later. Unfortunately, Analytics won't allow any simplification. It just gets more and more complex. If I could wave a magic wand, there would be a simple interface that allowed webmasters to get to the basic information quickly, with ordinary hyperlinks to more advanced stuff (you know, so I could bookmark it). But it can't be done. And by the time I've finished writing this blog, they will probably have added several more levels of complexity.

So, I try to avoid Google Analytics whenever I can. I'm sure they meant well, but it's a mess.