This is the first of a planned series of posts about tools I use in my business. This time I’m going to take a look at Gauges, a lightweight analytics application.
Google Analytics is a powerful tool for discovering and reporting on visitor information, but I find that once I start poking around the interface I can easily lose several hours to creating reports and querying data. That can sometimes be a valid use of time, day to day however my needs are simpler. I’d like to know where people are coming from right now. Quite often if people are coming to this blog, or the Perch site in large numbers it is due to a conversation happening somewhere. Perhaps someone has tweeted about something I have written, Perch is being recommended in a thread on Reddit, or a link has been added to Hackernews. Being able to cast my eye over the traffic during the course of the day means I can join in those conversations if it makes sense. Gauges really excels at being the source of this knowledge.
I have the Live Data View open in a browser tab all day. When I take a break from the work I’m doing I will switch to the tab and have a quick look, see if anything interesting is happening. Live Data View is also incredibly useful if I’ve made major changes to a site, I can see in real time if people are running into issues or if everything is looking normal.
I also love seeing where in the world people come from, and seeing the pins move across the map as America starts to wake up and get to work.
Browser support information
One of my favourite features of Gauges is the Browser Support information it displays. Most tools will give you a breakdown of which browsers people are using, Gauges tells you what CSS, HTML and other features those browsers support.
These are the CSS features supported by browsers coming to the Perch website this month. As you can see – with a site aimed at web designers – we are pretty safe to use features such as Flexbox in our marketing site. Having this information to hand makes decisions about technologies to use much easier – I can just check the stats.
A replacement for Google Analytics?
I think Gauges is a tool you are likely to want to run alongside Analytics. It gives you a different view of things, a real time day to day insight into your visitors as opposed to a method of querying and comparing legacy data.
Gauges has a 7 day trial and accounts start from $6 per month. I really appreciate that you can add multiple sites to your account, rather than having to take out an account for each site you run. The account level you need is based on page views across all of your linked websites. You can also share access to your data with other people in your team or elsewhere – if you have someone redesigning your site for example, giving them access to your data to see browser information could be really valuable.