New Google Analytics Interface

Mar. 28, 2011 | by James Taylor

Google recently announced an overhaul of its incredibly popular analytics platform, Google Analytics. Some users (including myself) have been given early access to the new interface for testing.

If you’ve signed up for the preview, it isn’t immediately obvious whether you have access or not. You need to go in to an actual profile before the option to switch to the new interface appears.

New Google Analytics Link

Dashboard

One of the major changes to the platform is the ability to have multiple, customisable dashboards. Custom widgets can be set up to track almost any metric you can think of.

There are four different widget types as follows (from the Google Analytics Blog):

  • Metric: Shows the value of a metric and a sparkline of that metric over the selected time period
  • Pie Chart: Best suited for displaying breakdowns of a metric by a certain dimension. E.g., Visits by Browser Type.
  • Timeline: A graph of any metric over time. You can also compare two metrics in the same graph.
  • Table: Think of this as a mini-custom report. You can show one dimension with two metrics and up to 10 rows of data in a table.

New Google Analytics Dashboard

The above image shows the different types of widget available and is the default setup. These widgets can be dragged around and deleted as you see fit. Having multiple dashboards will allow users to have their own view of top level metrics or to have separate dashboards for different channels.

Reports

The reports section is the main working area in Google Analytics. The functionality has remained largely unchanged, although the navigation is very different.

Fortunately, it’s very logically laid out so, for example, to find the new ‘keywords’ report you would go through Incoming Sources -> Search -> Organic. The keyword report is selected by default, but any other metric can be chosen from the links in the shown in the below image or from the dropdown, also shown.

Generally, the new interface feels a lot faster. The process of applying filters on a long keyword list seems to take less time than it did when using the old interface.

One fairly significant change I noticed is that filters and other selections now persist when changing profiles. This should make comparing data across two profiles very simple, but could catch you out if you have applied a filter and switched profiles expecting the filter to be removed.

Exporting Data

The way data is exported has changed, and not for the better in my opinion. In the old interface, the graph data was exported along with the main detail data. This was often useful for extracting trended data, but I cannot see a way to do this now.

Another unwelcome change is the addition of a ‘total’ row at the bottom of exported reports. I will very rarely need to use this and it’s easy enough to add in Excel if I do. In the meantime, if I forget to remove it, highlighting a column in Excel to quickly sum the data will over count by 100%!

Anyone who regularly pastes GA data in to templated reports will have to check that nothing breaks with the new export format, and any reporting that relied on the graph data will not work at all.

One more problem with the export feature is that the old &limit trick doesn’t work anymore, so there’s apparently no way to export more than 500 rows of data. This is a serious problem and if it isn’t implemented in another way, we will no doubt see many people turning to scraping the data (laborious) or using the GA API (difficult).

Goals

A welcome change, however, is the ability to use an Event to trigger a Goal. Quite why this wasn’t possible in the past is a bit of a mystery, as the two things seem to be made for each other.

The inclusion of this feature will allow more complex user behaviour tracking to be set up much more easily. Events can be set up for almost anything, which means the same can be said for Goals.

Goals also bring loads of cool features, including Goal Funnels – a great way of visualising user behaviour. You could, for example, set up a goal funnel for how far down a page a user has scrolled if you really wanted to!

Events as Goals

Conclusion

Overall, the new interface changes are good and logical, but some of the alternations may cause a bit of complaint from the user base. I would imagine Google will be monitoring feedback closely over the coming months and hopefully the minor niggles will be ironed out in time.

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    Comments (6)

    • Dec 10, 2014 04:02 am

    • Mel

      The new interface is horrible... AND the advanced filter does not work! I filtered a specific word to isolate a landing page, that worked. But when I tried to exclude a range of numbers it didn't do anything... FAIL!Dec 8, 2011 09:25 pm

    • Mukul

      Like the new look!Apr 15, 2011 05:31 am

    • Doug Hall

      Jesper - hit the 'gear' icon in the top right of the page.  Click on the account, then click on the profile in 'Web Properties', then click the goals tab.

      Improvement?  Hmmmm?Mar 31, 2011 02:02 pm

    • Doug Hall

      Exporting massive data amounts from GA was and is easy!

      You can use the rich API to pull data, GADataGrabber, Excellent Analytics or tack on a handy parameter to the URL of the export - see:
      http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/Google%20Analytics/thread?tid=3bccb9238ccada06&hl=en

      Hope this helps unbreak the deal!Mar 30, 2011 08:59 am

    • jesper

      How the heck do you create a new goal? I'm really trying to find this function, and i'm guessing it's easy to find, but i just cant find it.

      So, where is it?Mar 29, 2011 03:27 pm

    • Gregory Lyons

      Not being able to export more than 500 rows of data is a deal breaker for me, hopefully they'll reinstate this featureMar 29, 2011 10:14 am

     
    Please note: the opinions expressed in this post represent the views of the individual, not necessarily those of iCrossing.

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