New and Noticeably Worse! The Downgrade in Upgrade's Clothing

January 20, 2017

On Wednesday, Google rolled out a new Analytics upgrade. Here’s Mashable’s report on the upgrade:

Google rolled out a new and improved version of Google Analytics to all current Analytics users on Wednesday.

The upgraded product comes with a bevy of new features. In addition to faster performance and a streamlined UI, the new Analytics also packs quite a lot of improved and entirely new functionality.

Users can create multiple dashboards, up to 20 per user; and each dashboard can contain up to 12 widgets. Users can also set interaction goals (for example, you might use Google Analytics to track and optimize file downloads or video views), graph and compare certain metrics over time, and toggle between multiple profiles and sites while focusing on one report.

Wiep Knol begs to differ:

New Google Analytics

He went on to elaborate on some of his complaints:

  • You can no longer click on referring URLs (I agree this is annoying, I used that feature all the time)
  • “No proper parameter handling in ref URLs”
  • It’s not real-time

Here’s another complaint from the comments on the Mashable post:

Keywords is the first thing I look at in GA, and it now feels harder to get to. On the Traffic Sources Overview page there is a link to Keywords way down the page, but in the left hand menu it is called Traffic Sources > Incoming Sources > Search > Overview

A lot of big sites and web apps – Digg, Twitter, Gawker, and Facebook come to mind, as well as the more niche-y Poetry Foundation site – have undergone major redesigns in the past year or two, and in each case, it always seems that the people who hate the changes are much louder than those who are happy or indifferent. I hear lots of complaining and plenty of resigned sighs, and very few votes of confidence. There are always a few who rabidly hate the new version, and either refuse to upgrade or, in the case of sites like Gawker, stop reading altogether.

I wonder, is there a perceived need among Web 2.0 companies to be constantly changing that doesn’t actually serve the needs or desires of your user base? I wonder if brands like the idea of a big unveiling when it comes to redesigns, when most users would prefer gradual small tweaks. The problem with many site overhauls is that features get lost in the transition. Sometimes a site looks slicker but it’s missing functionality, or that functionality gets hidden or more difficult to use. Does “moving forward” always have to involve leaving behind?

On the other hand, there's the "New Coke" effect. Coca-Cola did tons of focus group testing and blind taste tests when they launched New Coke in 1985; all signs pointed to yes, which is to say everyone seemed to love the new version. But then the actual launch triggered outrage and a huge backlash that has gone down in marketing history. No matter how much usability testing you do, and how positive you are that the changes you're making are genuine improvements, it's difficult to predict how users will react in the real world.

Sometimes, it's unfortunately inevitable to disappoint some portion of your existing user base if you want to expand in a new direction. For example, a company might decide it wants to target a younger audience. In changing their messaging, they might alienate some of their older customers, but the move might ultimately be good for business nonetheless. It's a tricky balance.

What do you think? When a site or application you use frequently suddenly undergoes a redesign, do you usually feel like it’s an improvement, or do you wish things had stayed the same?

Internet Marketing Highlights of the Week

Ready for some data porn? The Hunch blog published a funny infographic about the differences between people who identify as "Mac people" and PC users; basically Mac people are snobs all around, preferring San Pelligrino to Orange Crush, Bahn Mi to patty melts and "bistro-type fries" to McDonald's. (I prefer the snobby option in all these cases too, but this still makes me laugh. And "I'm a PC"!)

More data porn! The OK Cupid blog has 10 charts about sex. Learn how sex drive correlates to self-described body type among other wacky facts.

Back to serious search stuff! SEO Book has a handy guide to SEO strategy for web managers.

The Content Marketing Institute explains how to turn your analytics into actionable tasks for content marketing.

DIYSEO published a huge group interview with 45 experts (including, ahem, me and WordStream alumni like Tom Demers and Ken Lyons), answering the question, What's the biggest mistake SMBs make with SEO?

What's the ultimate link building tool? According to Jennifer Van Iderstyne, you are! She says tools are great but, sorry, you still have to do the work. Catch more of her link-building wisdom on Search News Central, where she explains how to "future-proof" your links.

Jay Baer of Convince & Convert asks if Twitter is massively overrated, citing reach data. Hint: we spend more time using MySpace.

SEOmoz notes that, post-Panda, lots of sites' original content is now ranking below versions put out by scrapers and syndication partners. Yikes! Has this happened to you?

Have a good weekend, all.

Elisa Gabbert

Elisa Gabbert

Elisa Gabbert is WordStream's Director of Content and SEO. Likes include wine, karaoke, poker, ping-pong, perfume, and poetry.

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