As most people in the Web Analytics community are aware, Google Analytics launched a new version of the interface, in beta, with some great new features. The big changes are pretty well documented already, events can now be setup as goals (Awesome!), the dashboard is super customizable, etc. As someone who stares at Google Analytics WAAAY too much on a daily basis, I thought I would write a post on some of the more subtle details of the new interface that you may not notice right away.
Formatting exported reports…….in Excel………what a time suck! Why does Google Analytics export data to Excel with messy formatting? Not only is it ugly to look at, it requires additional time to re-format the data to match what you actually see in the reports. The worst one, average time on site or time on page, required an Excel formula + formatting to get that metric to look right. With the new version, all that wasted time is over. Exported reports come out nice and clean and readable. That is huge when you are aggregating data or have a client or key stakeholder that wants the raw data for something specific and you want to just setup an auto-export. Now the data they are receiving will be nice and clean and will prompt far fewer questions back. Thank you for that precious time back Google! What happened to the PDF option though???
There are some small organizational changes that are really nice in the new version.
- Another great organizational improvement is that the Top Content report, now called Pages… similar to other solutions…., has quick access to the navigation summary report for path data. For those of you doing tons of search reporting, the organic search and paid search reports are now separate reports. No more clicking Search Engines then clicking non-paid, total or paid. It’s the little things right.
- On a larger scale, the accounts home page is way different. Not sure how I feel about the new version yet. One thing that I do like is that you can head right into a specific report section (visitors, traffic sources, etc.) from the accounts home page rather than being pushed into the dashboard.
The Bad and the Ugly
Now for the items I don’t like, yeah that’s right. There are some funky things going on that look like they may be problems as I attempt to navigate the waters of the new Google Analytics interface. The biggest thing that freaks me out is that when you are utilizing filters within a report, let’s say your Pages report (aka Top Content), the aggregate data at the top does not adjust based on your filter. So if I wanted to see the aggregate data on a particular group of pages from the filter I applied, where are my totals? Don’t tell me I have to export the report to see the totals/averages! That seems troublesome, especially for keyword, content and product reports.
One of the absolute best things about Google Analytics is the way you can easily segment traffic and build out your custom segments. The new version has one feature missing that was really helpful – especially when you are working with manually tagged campaigns that are not 100% “clean”. The feature missing is the dropdown bar. The new version just gives you an empty field to add in your values and requires you to use Regular Expression. A good example is if you try and build out a custom segment that includes: source matches exactly > direct, you will not match any results. That is because the source to match is actually (direct), with parentheses. The old version would spit out some options based on your filter and would even update the list as you started typing. That little feature helped me out countless times when trying to figure out why a custom segment was not working or was not capturing everything I wanted it to. Please, please add that functionality back in.
As we spend more time in the new interface I’m sure that more good and bad features will emerge. What changes have you found that you like or dislike? How about multi-channel goal attribution? I’m looking forward to taking that for a spin.