Damned lies and stats

Reading time: 3 mins

Blogging malaise? Pah, easily solved. Check your stats!

Except it’s not always that easy.

Personally I’ve been using Extreme Tracking for quite a while now, but it’s not that reliable as it seems my “hit count” is always lower there than anywhere else. The Sitemeter site appears to be dead – although I’m sure I received my weekly email from them last week – Re_invigorate appears to have stalled, and the details offered as part of my hosting package are fine for raw numbers but don’t include referrers and whatnot (unless I’m missing something, any 34sp customers wanna put me right?).

So it was with some interest that I read yesterday’s announcement about a new stats package called Mint (not sure the credit card people will be too happy with that…). Created by Shaun Inman it certainly LOOKS very nice, but I think it may only appeal to a certain type of user as it doesn’t have a free (cut-down) offering. I would venture that this is on purpose to ensure the quality of the service remains high, but I think that at $30 a site it’ll still attract some customers. Jon Hicks has more details.

Now, a feel eagle-eyed readers may have spotted a few funny ‘code’ messages appearing at the top of my site a couple of weeks back, and with a huge slice of coincidence (side helping of “who’da thunk it?”) I can now tell you what that was… of course if you didn’t see anything untoward then apologies for wasting the last 6 seconds of your life, please don’t hate me but DO read on..

I spotted a call for testers a few weeks ago and thought I’d give it a go. The details were scant but legitimate, with all that was required to help test this new “web app” was a few lines of PHP on my site as the developer wanted to gather some stats from various sites. Those stats have been whizzing back and forth for the past couple of weeks and it’s only now that I can tell you what it’s for and confirm to myself that I was right with my initial guess (which I didn’t blog about as the testing was to be carried out in “secret”, honest!).

Yes, you’ve guessed it, I was helping test a new stats package! This one is called Vestigo and BETA sign ups are now open. As it’s creator, Ben Sekulowicz, says it’s:

“a community driven visitor tracker – On a basic level, it gives you a (IMO) very good statistics, traffic and trend tracking package… On an entirely new level, you can cross reference your data with everyone else’s – to see how your browser stats compare to similar sites, what people who visit your site look for on other sites and where in the world your visitors come from.”

Can’t say fairer than that I guess. Currently it’s only available for PHP enabled sites, and testing has only included Firefox and Safari but if you ask me, it looks pretty damn good (check out those browser stats!). The accuracy of the stats seems to be pretty spot on as well (in comparison to my host provided stats) and there are some nice touches including a Google Map hack to display the physical location of your visitors.

Update: Just had an email from Ben where he pointed out another neat feature. If you have looked at the screenshot, above, then check out the details you get when you click on the Referrer time link (the “When” column on the left), some more details about the visitor (the location may be off as it is probably based on the IP address).

As always you should remember it’s still in BETA but I always take the view that this is a good thing as you could possibly influence new/improved features in the product. Sign up and have a look.

So there you have it, two new stats packages in one day. What are the chances?