So this weekend, the staff at Woopra.com started approving new sites as they have released a new beta build of their service.  After installing their latest bits of code, here are some of my thoughts on using their web analytics engine on JefTek.com in a video review.

Getting started

Upon approval,  you are given a snippet of javaScript to place within the header of your site or blog so that Woopra can begin to track usage activity.  I have to say I was impressed that in only a few minutes after adding the js code, statistics started appearing in my Woopra console.  I have used quite a few web analytics for this blog, and I had come to expect at least an hour to several hours before data started flowing in.

Web Client

Woopra.com provides a web based interface to review collected stats on your site like many other web analytic applications.  Those who are used to more flashier web interfaces might be disappointed, as I would consider Woopra’s approach to be simplified displaying  of core stats, and basic bar charts, than the more rich data views of the other services.

Fortunately, Woopra knows this is just the entry point, and the real sizzle is in the Java desktop client that they have produced to interact with the collected data for your site.  So I am not going to focus on their web based offering, as I don’t believe this is where people will be say “Wow”, but it is very sufficient for when the desktop client is not installed when you want simple stats on your site usage.

Here are some screen shots of the web client:

Woopra_Web_01 Woopra_Web_02

Desktop Client

The Woopra client is a Java based piece of software that is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux computers that support Java.  Personally, I’m not a very big fan of Java based applications, but this client goes a long way in letting me know that Java can be used to produce some beautiful applications.  While many web analytic services collect similar data, the software piece of the Software and a Service (SAAS) here exposes a better way for interacting with that data, making it more useful to the admin.

Such features as client side notifications based on filters is a great interactive feature with your visitors, as well as the Web site chat feature.  A visitor posted on my site that Woopra should be considered spyware, since it allows the viewing of a visitors activity on your site.  I disagree, as this data has always been available via web logs and other analytic services, but the desktop client really makes this data more engaging to be used.

Here are some screen shots of the desktop application showing off the Dashboard view, and the Analytics views:

Woopra_Dashboard Woopra_Analytics_Map Woopra_Analytics_ReferrersWoopra_Analytics_Systems

I produced a short Silverlight video of my usage and review of the Woopra service and desktop client. This was the first video review I’ve ever made, which I’m sure is too long and has to many “uhs” and bad volume on the mic.  The total run time is about 18 minutes long, because I wanted to show as much of the features of the client as I could.

Be sure to view it in Full Screen mode to see the details of the application.

Beta Bugs

The client is a fresh beta (v1.1.1.0) as of this posting, so there are some bugs to be had, though none are going to limit your use of this service.

  • Time Zone data is inconsistent – When you setup your site, you set a GMT offset for the site.  This offset is not used consistently throughout the interface, so it skews the correlation of the statistics.  This is most likely a simple fix I would expect to see resolve shortly
  • Search Filters – It appears if you attempt to use a wildcard (*) in a search filter, it goes into a loop while searching, to which you cannot cancel the search.  The only resolution is to close the Woopra client and restart it.
  • Search Data Misalignment – Some of the details in my search data didn’t align with what the visitor was actually doing.  In my example, someone arrived at my site from a keyword search on Google, but in the search history, it said the refferer was another unrelated website with this value: Visit Referrer: unrelated.com(kerberos)

Feature Ideas

Here are some features I’d like to see in the desktop client and the service:

  • Enable/Disable Proxy switch – You can define a web proxy for the client, but the only way to enable/disable it is to clear the values.  A simple check box would be great here.
  • Custom Dashboard Panes – Give the admin the ability to define a custom Pane in the dashboard.  Maybe they want to track OS versions, or Cities, in the My Visitors pane
  • Clearing of Tags – Once you tag a visitor, there is no “Clear Tag” feature.  The only way to update this, is to change the tag to something else.
  • Customize Chat Options – I think some customized Chat options would be nice, as the “Webmaster” is a little ominous to an end user which might confuse them more. This is especially true in tabbed browsers with multiple sites, so something that is site specific in the chat invitation would be nice.   The current chat window may be confused with ad spam, where as if it was more custom to the site, it might be less of an alarm to the end user.
  • Wild Card values in filters – Allowing Wild Card values (*) or ranges in some of the search filters to give more granular control of the filter definition.  Many seem to be single value only.
  • RSS Feeds of Statistics – It would be nice to be able to subscribe to an RSS feed for specific site statistics.  This might be possible through the existing DEV API as well.
  • Plugin/Widgets for GraffitiCMS – Already a buzz on the Woopra forums is that Woopra is working with Telligent to provide some integration for GraffitiCMS which I am looking forward too.
  • History in the Live view:  Perhaps a toggle to display a historical stream of Live history.  The view in the Live section is a nice combination with the mini-map.  Maybe mute the colors on historical value to denote they are no longer live if “Show history” is enabled?
  • Timed Auto Refresh – Maybe an auto-refresh every x minutes on the Search list for “Show Recent Visits” or in the Analytics views

Overall Thoughts

After only using the service for less than a day, I think this is going to be my main analytics service from the existing feature set, and desktop application.  Even in it’s beta stage, I found it more useful than some of the other web based service’s such as Google Analytics, that I have been trying out lately.

I think using this in conjunction with the new MS web analytics which provides some deeper knowledge about your visitors for ad campaigns, it offers site owners an in depth view of who and what is being used on their site.  Though Woopra is still beta, and pricing is not announced, they have stated on their forums that they intend to make it a free offering for most sites.

Since they have provided a Dev API, I am excited to see what uses the community has for such a fantastic offering so far.

Future Woopra

Woopra 1.3rc1 client updates and new features

Video introduction to Woopra 1.3rc1