Feb 22 2010
Loyal readers of SlapStart may know that I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer when it comes to the Internet. So many times, when the Internet flusters me or makes me cry, I tend to blame myself. Case in point: we here at SlapStart dabble with the Google Analytics stuff. We track our traffic, say, 300 times a day, and generally speaking, it’s a helpful exercise. But for the life of me, I never can figure out the IP addresses of who is visiting our site – where, precisely, they came from. Which is strange, because I used a similar tool, like, six years ago, and they did that. And since Google, y’know, knows everything about me, including how I tie my shoes (note: the “weird” way), I thought maybe I was missing something. Maybe it was me.
So, after many minutes of psychological self-flagellation, it was quite relieving and validating to know that I’m not stupid and it’s not my fault. Google Analytics won’t let you check by IP addresses. Google stinks. Without FootPrint Live, Google Analytics would the gleam in the eye of a drunken-Web analytics sailor on leave with 20 dollars burning a hole is his wallet. FootPrint Live is an add-on that does what Google Analytics does not: it lets you look up IP addresses and individual clickstreams in real-time. It’s free, and it’s cool.
All you gotta do is create a free account and install the tracking script on your website and instantly you’ll feel like a CIA spy. I went to their site and checked out their Free Demo. It’s rare to get such an instantly gratifying demo for a tool; especially since in this case, I could actually see myself on there. But I’m getting ahead of myself. The dashboard not only showed the viewers to their site, but it showed them in real-time. Like, as I write this to you (except you’ll be reading it later. Then again, what is time?) Drilling deeper yet, I could hover over the “visitor puppet” icon (green is online and active; orange is recently active; red has been offline for more than 10 minutes) to get each visitor’s profile, which includes country, ISP, zip code, city, telephone area code, number of visits, total page views, duration, shoe size, favorite color, biggest pet peeve involving grammar, and least-favorite color. And lo and behold, as I hovered, I found myself, there, on their site, describing my very situation. (And wouldn’t you know it, as always, my eyes were closed in the picture.)
Here’s a screen shot:
For further, plate tectonic-like, molten-core-ish drilling down, you can check out the visitor clickstreams, seeing where they went on your site, by page, and for how long. And it’s done in a well laid-out fashion: map of the country on the left, their profile below it, and the clickstream to the right, each page laid out by date, including total time viewed. Obviously all this frothy data opens a whole new world of analytical possibilities and mind-bending reports to obsess over. What are the post popular pages? And for how long? And why? And what do people have against magenta? The mind reels.
The beauty of the product is that it’s simple and it speaks for itself. I surfed around the site for quite a bit trying to find other things to underscore or comment in a way best described as “gentle constructive criticism,” but I couldn’t. All the action is in the demo, and beyond that, there are no unnecessary or distracting bells and whistles from the user perspective, which me likey.
In related news, I’m sure by now you’ve read about Google’s debacle with their Buzz tool; namely, their sordid disregard for user privacy. As a Gmail user myself, it was kinda infuriating and found the whole hubaloo to be straight-up bizarre: how could so many seemingly smart people blow something so badly, especially regarding user privacy? People are really steamed out there, and 10 years of goodwill has gone out the window. I mention this because, as we know, bigger isn’t better. Footprint Live is a far more user-friendly analytics tool than Google’s, it has greater depth and breadth, and most interestingly, it’s all in real-time. And while both tools can be used in conjuction with eachother, most folks would do just fine with Footprint Live. Best yet, it makes me feel not stupid; so much so, that if Google were a woman and I was breaking up with her, I’d say, “It’s not me…it’s you.”