A few months back I closed my Google account. With that went many of its services that I used on a regular basis. FeedBurner, which once used to be a good product, has since languished since Google decided to acquire them. I’ve seen many people complain about this, including Jim Dalrymple of The Loop—he’s been pretty damn vocal about how much it’s been sucking.
I’ve been pretty fortunate that my CMS—Squarespace—has very good built-in analytics. I’ve been on their v5 CMS for a few years and have been very happy thus far. It’s no secret that they have been working on a major re-write of their platform, called v6. It’s been in private beta since last year, and the platform has been going at a slow and steady iteration pace—too slow to the chagrin of some people. One of the problems currently with the v6 platform when it comes to its analytics package is that it’s missing the ability to track your RSS feed subscriber count—something v5 currently offers. I’ve contacted the people at Squarespace about this, and they have told me that it’s being worked on. It seems strange that in many ways v6 seems like a downgrade, as it’s missing things that many on the v5 platform have come to enjoy—however, I’m confident at some point v6 will more or less have feature parity with v5.
This may seem like I’m going off on a tangent about Squarespace, but this ties in nicely with my recent experience in trying different analytics tools. Since I no longer can use Google Analytics, if I want to use a third party product for tracking website stats, I need to look elsewhere. I’ve heard lots of good things about Gauges, and from what I saw based on the screenshots on their website, it looked like a nicely designed web app with an equally well designed iOS app.
I signed up for Gauges a couple of days ago to check it out, even though technically I had no real reason to use another product for tracking site stats—other than what is already offered in Squarespace v5. I actually was hoping to find a good alternative that would track everything, including RSS subscriber counts—since the aforementioned disappointment I had with Squarespace v6 not supporting this. Let me backpedal for a moment though and comment on the Gauges website.
The UI/UX And Features
/body section of your website. This couldn’t have been easier. One of Gauges two primary features that really attracted me was its real-time analytics and AirTraffic view. AirTraffic view is essentially an extremely pretty way of seeing who is visiting your website, plotted on a map of the world. AirTraffic is not something that I would say is extremely useful, although it certainly is a novel way of representing your visitor data in a visually compelling way.
There isn’t much exciting to say about in terms of the data Gauges collects. All of the things you would come to expect—sans RSS feed stats of course—such as: page views, uniques, referrers, browser stats, location, popular pages, are all there.
Here are a few things that I’m not entirely happy with:
- Whilst the design of their homepage is quite nice, offering an assortment of screenshots, features and benefits, and customer testimonials, it lacks a really in-depth breakdown of what the product can do. It doesn’t tell you if it can track RSS feed information, or if you can do advanced things like create segmentation rules for what kind of data you want to collect. Now mind you not everyone needs the robustness of Google Analytics, so perhaps that wasn’t even the developers goal.
- Gauges doesn’t track RSS feed subscribers. From what I was told by the developers, this is not entirely easy or even reliable to implement. I completely understand that, but I still believe this should be added to the product, as it’s an essential feature that publishers want.
- Their web app itself could use some improvement. I wanted to delete an old profile that I setup, but I couldn’t find any way to do this. After spending some time, I finally found a tiny textual “Delete” link at the very bottom of the Gauges profile page. I wasn’t expecting to have to scroll down and look for a tiny text link to delete it.
- They don’t seem to have any sort of service updates webpage, where you can find information about issues relating to downtime or planned maintenance. Saturday morning I woke up and went to go check my site stats, only to find a message about planned maintenance. There was no mention how long the planned maintenance was going to last, nor did I receive a courtesy email about the service going down. I think some simple planning and better communication with customers is all that’s needed here.
If you don’t need the robustness of Google Analytics, or don’t trust Google’s somewhat dubious privacy practices, Gauges more than likely will satiate your analytics desires. Just keep in mind some of caveats that I mentioned though. If you can live without the ability to track your RSS feed subscribers, then Gauges should keep you happy.