The new version of Google Analytics (v5), currently in beta, is an improvement overall, however, it does create some new hurdles to overcome. If you haven’t seen the new version, you can do so by clicking “New Version” in the upper right hand corner, next to your email address:Here is my review of the new view into Google Analytics:
Dashboard–How did we live without this dashboard before? Yes, there was the clunky screen we called a dashboard before, but with the visits graph and the site usage that was a staple of the dashboard, I could never achieve the quick view I was desired. For instance, I monitor a client’s revenue from paid search throughout the day and the new dashboard is much cleaner, can take up less room and deliver all the information I need at a glance (revenue, transactions, revenue by source, top 10 revenue generating campaigns, revenue by hour and visits). In addition, you can have multiple dashboards. Below are screen shots of the old and new dashboard (campaign names have been changed):
Date Options–Finally, Google gets smart and adds the “Today” option into a pull down for select dates.
Stickiness–One feature I absolutely love is that I can jump between profiles with the same report and date I previously selected. If I select yesterday as my date and reviewing All Traffic Sources Ecommerce, and jump to another profile, I see the same view in that profile. No more re-selecting dates or navigating to the particular report I was just viewing.
Chart Updates Just a Click–Instead of fumbling with a drop down section and trying to find the metric you want to show up in the overall graph, now you just click on the metric in the explorer bar. I can easily see a graph of visits and then change to revenue with a click of a mouse. To jump from one graph to the next, just click on the metric above the graph, see image below:
There are plenty of other nice features to the Google Analytics Beta, too many to mention. Above were some of my favorites. However, with changes comes the loss of some functionality.
AdWords Campaign Data–One thing that has always bothered me about Google Analytics and the AdWords reports is the lack of Cost data on the same screen as Revenue or Goal data. However, at least in the older Google Analytics, if you downloaded the data into Excel, you could see both Cost and Revenue/Goal data. That is no longer the case. This is a step backwards for the AdWords reporting within Analytics.
Managing Multiple Google Analytics–In the old Analytics, client websites were grouped under one header in the drop down or on the main account page. So from one drop down in the upper right I could select one out of the many clients I manage and be taken to their account home page and select a profile. Now, however, every profile for the client is listed in the drop down. In other words, if I’m managing 20 clients, each with 10 profiles, I must wade through a drop down of over 200 profiles to choose from, vs a drop down of 20 clients. Yes, the old way adds an extra step, but much easier to navigate. If you are only managing a couple of accounts, this may work, but not for hundreds. You can use the search box, which helps, but still may bring too many options when you have multiple accounts. In addition there are the plus signs to expand and collapse the information, however they don’t stick once you navigate away. Here is a screen shot from a colleague of their account home page:
This latest version of Google Analytics is definitely a step in the right direction. I have been using the new version for a few months and have seen more and more functionality added to it on a weekly basis. Bugs are minimal at this point, and usually can be corrected with a refresh of the browser window. I highly recommend to start using the new version as soon as you can.