New! Improved! Google Analytics v.5
No snarky allusive post title today! This is the biggest overhaul to the GA interface since I left Google, and as such it's been quite fun to have it appear suddenly, rather than in the dribs and drabs of internal beta-testing (or dogfooding as the poets in Google product management would have it), during which its secrets would previously have been revealed.
First things first
Navigation in the new version of GA has been completely overhauled. This is first apparent in the new menu bar (still a slightly wretched shade of Orange, but never mind)
Lovely little house icon, eh? Anyway, 'Dashboard' should probably read 'Dashboards' (exciting – I'm prefiguring later revelations, just like in a cheap thriller). The 'My Site' menu drops down to give you a choice of 'Reports' or 'Intelligence', which is the kind of unintentionally amusing delineation that probably warms the quieter ventricles of Avinash Kaushik's heart.
Clicking on that Home icon will take you to a searchable list of all your accounts. Most consultants think this is fabulous, but I suspect the majority of you reading wont be regularly struggling with multiple pages of accounts and profiles, so are likely to be slightly less overjoyed, as is your right.
Second things second
Report navigation has also been tidied up, streamlined and lots of other words highly evocative of efficiency and intellectual daring. Not a massive revision, and you're only likely to notice it when you can't find what you're looking for at first. Fortunately Google has provided a Report Finder for such instances. Naming conventions are perhaps a little more in line with what an ordinary, rational human being might come up with if pressed to describe the data contained therein.
I'm particularly in favour of the last section finally being called 'Conversions'. Having worked on a project with that name for over a year before I left Google, its nice to see the message belatedly being marketed through the UI. Conversions – worry about them.
Dash and blast
Probably the most interesting enhanced feature is the new Dashboards I skilfully alluded to earlier. Rather than giving you a single shareable Dashboard that had to be all things to all folk, you can now create multiple views depending on the context of the data you want to reveal (or, I suppose, obscure if that's your game). Currently these aren't shareable or emailable, but I imagine that'll be reinstated before long.
A nice new feature here is the ability to choose for yourself how you want a particular data point displayed – you can currently pick from a raw number, a pie chart, a time line (including comparison of two metrics) or a table.
Custom Report fiddle-faddle
Custom reports have been improved too. I would screen shot this, but to be honest, even Google isn't capable of making the form fields for bespoke data representation look beautiful. Probably of most interest here is the ability to pre-define a filter to be applied to your newly-minted custom report. You could achieve the same effect before through a combination of Custom Report and Advanced Segment, but this new solution is hugely more elegant, and since there's nothing like enough elegance in the world, this is to be applauded.
Advanced segments have been further enhanced by removing the requirement to include 'All Visits' if you wanted to view multiple segments at once. A couple of my former students will be very pleased.
I still dream of Organon
I've been quite fond of word clouds ever since my friend Mikko and I experimented with them as a way of providing insight into the manifestos of the major UK political parties during the last election for a now sadly defunct site. GA has now caught on to their usefulness (somewhat belatedly), but its a nice feature nonetheless.
As you can see, it's only really a cloud if you imagine what clouds would look like if designed by software engineers, but what it lacks in Wordsworthian verve it makes up for in utility.
And there's more…
Surely not all of GA v.5's secrets have been revealed yet. There's stuff in there like event-triggered goals (lovely for anyone worried about pageview inflation) and a whole host of UI tweaks and beautifications. It's also important to remember that this is just a Beta, so there'll be missing features added, and possibly much-loved features taken away before this is allowed to go prime-time.
More thoughts as and when they announce themselves…