Google Analytics, Observations

I’m using Google Analytics, the new Google website statistics tracking package.

So far I have limited stats available, but even in this phase I’m noticing a few things worth mentioning.

  • The primary target audience is execs wanting to track the effect of their online marketing efforts. This is reflected, not only in the design, but in the wording and setup process for the tool; ROI, Conversion Summary, and “View as Executive”. This is a good idea, as in my experience execs are the first to ask for just that.
  • It’s going to be a huge success for Google. It’s a simple, free service that provides in a simple way, what Webalizer has failed to provide for years.
  • Analytics is using a visual identity which is distinctly different from Googles other doings in a number of ways.
    • For one, Analytics is using TradeGothic for the logotype. Until now, Google has been using a bold, colored Arial right below the Google logo itself. See Google Image Search, for instance.
    • The orange top-bar colour is much sharper than the pastel color scheme Google usually sticks to.
    • The orange top-bar is bordered all the way around, instead of only a topmost border like Google Local (which is a pretty traditional Google design).
    • Icons have their own distinct style (Print, Export to Excel, etc.), as compared to other Google services.
    • The login information bar in the top-right corner has it’s very own style, as compared to Google Personalized.
    • The navigation bar to the left has a unique design which I haven’t yet seen anywhere else. Gmail is probably the Google product that has the most UI, but even here there’s not much in common with Analytics. Even the drop-down arrows (Analytics navigation / Gmail labels) are different.
  • The main Google Analytics site is also sporting the new design. Notice the stark orange ribbon? Notice the dropshadow inside? Also take note of the dashed lines, the “gray-as-opposed-to-black” text color and the use of Verdana.

So what does this mean? Well, as I see it, it can mean two things.

On one hand, it might just be a mistake. I’ve seen many Google products with little visual conformity. In fact most standalone Google applications have their own skin; Google Earth, Google Talk, Google Desktop, Google Picasa. Four different products, four different interfaces with only the logo in common (and in the case of Google Desktop, not even the logo in common). If they had only stuck to plain UI Widgets (the standard OS controls) instead of styling the lot, they’d atleast have that in common.

On the other hand, and this is what I think is the case, it can mean a more specific design for a specific target audience. I’m sure there are lots of execs at Google, all sporting the same bullshit bingo, yelling “Synergy!” from time to time. This breed craves stats. Detailed stats, that are simple and easy to understand, but draped to look complex, meaningful and slightly intimidating. Would the friendly Google design work here? No siree, time is money and and there’s no time for simplicity here!

What I would like to see, should Google want to stick around for a while, is a clear and distinct visual direction for all their products. Make a visual identity, and stick to it. This doesn’t negate the possibility of targetting specific audiences, it only means there’s going to be a visual connection between servicesโ€”besides the logo. Four different skins are three or four skins too many. Four different designs are three designs too many.

I’m convinced it’ll benefit them in the long run to plot a course for their visual efforts. For now, we’ll have to settle for the contents.

16 thoughts on “Google Analytics, Observations”

  1. AkaXakA says:

    So that’s what they did with Urchin!

    And that’s coincidentaly also why Analytics looks like it does. (same goes for Picasa & Earth)

  2. Joen says:

    And that’s coincidentaly also why Analytics looks like it does. (same goes for Picasa & Earth)

    Even though Analytics has the same look as Urchin used to have, my arguments still stand. This is now a Google product, and so it makes sense for it to be Google branded. If that means redesigning the old product, so be it. The same goes for Earth and Picasa, the difference being that Urchin should be much much simpler to redesign (just edit the stylesheet).

  3. AkaXakA says:

    Ever looked at the Urchin front-end code? It’s an ab-so-lute mess of tables and inline styling, but yeah, they should have taken the time to at least design new icons.

    It’s “Currently Undergoing Maintenance” however, so we can only hope!

  4. Joen says:

    Haven’t looked at the code no, but I can imagine it’s a mess… but if they can write Gmail, which is the most complex web app I’ve seen yet, they can spend a week cleaning up the Urchin code.

    It’s “Currently Undergoing Maintenance” however, so we can only hope!

    It drifts in and out. I’m sure it’s just the Slashdot effect and so on. I don’t think they’re actually redesigning as we speak.

  5. Have you seen the “Googe conversion university”? Also in hip new corporate design, but I don’t know if Urchin had that content already… Did they?

    Funny is that the content is like anti-search engine optimized, hidden behind javascript… Might be Urchin’s afterall (as you say their code was messy, this isnt very messy but just a bit… stupid)? ๐Ÿ˜

  6. Joen says:

    Hey Ruben,

    Thanks for your comment.

    I don’t know much about Urchin prior to Google’s acquisition.

    It seems maybe Google was just lazy, and wanted to quickly re-brand Urchin and see if it paid. If it does pay, then there’s a chance they’ll fix things.

  7. AkaXakA says:

    All the articles there are written by Alden DeSoto, and a quick google gives:

    “Urchin Web Analytics: Experts Center (Whitepapers)

    Alden DeSoto, Alden DeSoto | Web Marketing Expert, Urchin Software Corporation.

    Alden DeSoto, Urchin Web Analytics Today, you don’t need to have an …

    http://www.urchin.com/resource_center/experts/

    So yeah, it’s Urchin’s stuff, but it isn’t included in Urchin itself. Must have been on their old website or something.

  8. Joen says:

    That link just takes me to Googles Analyst site…

  9. Johan says:

    Well, it might look good, but it sure doesn’t work well. One day after the introduction and still no results!

    This is what happens when the Google marketing guys get over-convident and decide to leave the ‘Beta’ notice out ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Joen says:

    Well, it might look good, but it sure doesn?t work well. One day after the introduction and still no results!

    Yeah, they must be getting a huge amount of signups… I wonder why it’s taking so long. Other stats apps I’ve tried start immediately. By the way, it’s now been 36 hours for me, and still no stats.

    This is what happens when the Google marketing guys get over-convident and decide to leave the ?Beta? notice out ๐Ÿ™‚

    Yeah, that perpetual beta logo is a neat trick on Googles side ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Joen says:

    Wow I added the tracking code monday, and it’s still saying “analyzing data, you’ll have a report in 12 hours”.

    I would’ve provided you all with a screenshot, but it’s taking it’s damn time.

  12. Jonas Rabbe says:

    Quite interesting. I like the graphs they give a nice overview of the numbers. I thought it was a bit interesting that your visitors are spread out all over the world, but there’s this huge glob in Beijing. Guess you’re popular with the Chinese.

  13. Jonas Rabbe says:

    Another interesting thing is that people (on average) visit two pages each time they goto noscope. Maybe the front page and the journal? I’m kinda curious why Mint doesn’t keep that kind of statistic. Of course, there might even be a pepper out already which does it.

  14. Jonas Rabbe says:

    Now that I’m in the flow I guess I’ll point out a sentence in the TOC:

    Further, Unless You notify Google otherwise in writing, Google and its wholly owned subsidiaries retain the right to identify You as a valued customer and optionally issue a press release that, at a minimum, discloses You have licensed the Product and that the Product is Your preferred web analytics package.

    I guess you simply love Google Analytics and don’t really care for mint ๐Ÿ˜‰

  15. Joen says:

    but there?s this huge glob in Beijing. Guess you?re popular with the Chinese.

    Well, for some reason, I just recently had an OOOLD site of mine linked up by a chinese Flash gallery of sorts: http://www1.flash8.net/web/site.aspx?id=2173

    Another interesting thing is that people (on average) visit two pages each time they goto noscope. Maybe the front page and the journal?

    You deduce that info from the visits (2000) vs. pageviews (4000), right ?

    My guess would be the feed and the journal.

    I guess you simply love Google Analytics

    Well, yes, but that sentence made me stop and think…

    and don?t really care for mint ๐Ÿ˜‰

    That’s true, I don’t. But it’s a good app, nothing bad be said about it… it’s just not for me.

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