Friday, 15 June 2012

Open Web Analytics vs Google Analytics

Compairing Open Web Analytics and Google Analytics Part One

Let me start off by saying I am not a huge fan of Google Analytics, never have been. Why? Well it has always seemed clunky to me. I don't if it's the layout, the presentation of data or something else. Even though I am no fan, Google Analytics provides great data expecially considering it is free. It's the defacto standard in Analytics, and it seems that everyone uses it, myself included.

I heard about Open Web Analytics a while back and yesterday I stole some time and got it installed and started tracking our main site to see what kind of data it provides. Well I must say that I am sorry I waited so long to get it installed. I am so impressed with Open Web Analytics, just on the dashboard I find I can get a lot of useful information without having to do a lot of digging.

The Installation:

Getting OWA up and running was a simple matter. Setup a subdomain, create an apahe config file, upload the source, modify the directory and file permissions, setup a database and user (I used phpmyadmin) and go through the OWA setup. Now I ran into a problem with the automated setup so I had to manually create the owa-config file and modify the DB information but it was pretty straight forward. I know it sounds like a lot but it really is quite simple and well documented. I think the whole process took about 10-15 mins to complete and that includes trying to figure out what went wrong when the auto-setup failed.
All said and done, with the documentation if you know how to FTP you can get OWA setup and running. I decided on a sub-domain but there are other options available.

First Impressions:

The intial page wanted me to setup a site to track, which makes sense. So I got it setup and was presented with 2 options, javascript or php tracking. I opted for the traditioanl Javascript code, but having the option to use something else is handy especially if you get a lot of visitors with Javascript disabled.

With the site setup it was time to visit the page to create some data. I should mention that you can exclude IP address from tracking but I wanted to see data now so I skipped that step for now.
Even with only 1 visit what I saw impressed me very much, it looks very similar to GA but there is much more information presented initially.

The Dashboard:

The Dashboard is what makes this software for me. From this page I can get quick information about a lot of useful information. The way in which the data is organized is very clean and allows me to gather an excellent snapshot of visits to the site.

Here is a quick chart compairing the dashboards available in Open Web Analytics and Google Analytics. This data reflects what information is available on the Dashboard without having to click through to any other page.

Traffic Sources Y N
Site Metrics Y Y
Top Content Y N
Visitor Type Y Y
Top Referrers Y N
Latest Visits Y N
Language/Country/City N Y
System: Browser/OS/ISP Y Y
Mobile: OS,Provider,Resolution N Y

Here are some screen shots of the two platforms.

Open Web Analytics Dashboard Google Analytics Dashboard
OWA Dashboard GA Dashboard

Stay tuned as I will be covering more of OWA and GA.


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