This week Google Analytics have begun to roll out new dashboards and a revamped user interface (UI). We signed up to join the 'beta' phase and having logged in this morning, a bright red link in the top corner of the page inviting us to try the new version was just screaming out to be clicked.
It's early days yet and we've not had a proper play about with all the new features, but I thought I'd just give a quick overview on the some of the main changes that we've seen so far.
The new version is certainly more enjoyable to use and it seems that there is some good continuity from the previous version. Hopefully this means people won't feel to lost when they make the changeover themselves.
The main difference as far as I can tell (so far at least) is the new dashboards. Many of the reporting features seem the same but the dashboards themselves are significant, as for many, this is the first page you see when you log in to analytics.
The dashboards have been 'widgetised' which basically means you can customise it with the metrics that you're most interested in. This of course was possible to do before, but adding a new repot to the dashboard was awkward by having to dig down to the relevent report and clicking the 'add this report to dashboard link'.
Clicking the more visible '+ Add Widget' button throws up a selection window where you can choose from a number of options:
- How you'd like the data displayed (from a simple metric, pie chart, timeline or table);
- The actual data you wish to show (which is dependent on your choice of how data is displayed);
- A name for your new 'widget'.
Looking at this image there does still seem to b be some confusion as to whether the dashboard will use 'gadgets' or 'widgets'.
Of course the basic dashboard is already pre-set with a number of existing widgets, and these are easily moved around on screen or modified to display different statistics, and there is still the option to specify a chosen timeframe. You can even change the name of your dashboard which leads on to the next major new feature.
The previous version of Google Analytics offered a single dashboard, but in an update that will be welcomed by larger web teams, you can now have up to 20 different dashboards for each site profile. So for a design/development team who are interested in the technical details of browser type, screen size etc, they can choose their preferred statistics, and a marketing team who are more interested in the popular pages and traffic sources can have their own overview.
One thing however which seems a little annoying is that clicking on a dashboard metric does absolutely nothing. I would have expected a click here to link through to the relevant page with more detailed figures, but getting down to the next level of data requires clicking on the menu bar at the top of the page.
Home Page Improvements
For those with multiple website profiles or accounts within analytics, the home page also shows some welcome changes. As a digital agency, our analytics account has in the region of 80 website profiles. These have typically been grouped into different 'sub accounts' which we had to click into first. The new home screen lists all the websites in your profile and even offers a link to jump straight to a specific section of the website's report. Much quicker!
Still in Beta
The new version of Google Analytics is still in Beta which is essentially a pre-release testing. Many of the usual analytics functions are present and work as expected, however there is currently no export to PDF feature or email scheduling. Both of theses are pretty essential features for non-technical website owners to get regular updates on their website's performance in an easy to read format. Fortunately, it's still possible (and essential really) to nip back across to the older version.
Google have promised many more features in the new dashboards and other areas of the upgraded analytics, and no doubt these will be released over time. We're certainly pretty impressed with the changes we've seen so far and are somewhat relieved the update appears to be more evolutionery than revolutionary. Sure, it will take a bit of getting used to when everyone finally switches over to the new version, but compared to some of the updates to the Google Adwords platform in recent time, this update seems to have started with what was good about the older version and updated with new features that for some have been long overdue.