One of my buddies turned me on to an awesome new tool a few months back. If you’re not familiar with analytics, then you owe it to your geekiness to get in touch. Analytics allow you to see ( with non-personally identifiable information ) how–and how much–your site is being used. It will tell you geography of users, bounce rates, how people find you, and what pages they look at/files they download. This may sound a bit creepy at first, but the practice is already widely in use, and the information can prove invaluable when making decisions on changing and improving your site.
If you already understand the value of analytics, then you likely also know that Google is the modus operandi for the majority of webmins: mostly due to the lack of viable alternatives. Now, I’m all about the innovation, convenience, and especially anti-Microsoftism that Google brings to bear. That being said, they have more information about more people….and “Don’t be evil?” Really?
Enter a new option, Piwik. Piwik offers all of the basics (referrers, search engines with keywords, page counts, etc.), but what’s more, it’s all open source MVC. In other words, anything it lacks, you can add. It has an easy modules and hooks design so that your MVC plug-ins can be displayed in the eye-candy, flash-based graphing widgets–it took me all of five minutes to drop in the GeoIP plugin. The API is very clean for dropping calls into other apps as well. Installation couldn’t be easier, requiring only a database user and php5 with the mysql module.
I’m now using Piwik on pretty much all the pages I host and a few others I have a stake in, or as favors for friends, so I know what you’re looking at =). Don’t worry, I’m just using it to improve things.