Measure Map is a new blog stats (really, analytics) tool developed by usability consulting firm Adaptive Path and currently in private alpha mode for the time being. (Whoah- will alpha become the new beta?)
By entering you email address at the service’s homepage, measuremap.com, you’ll be added to the waiting list to receive an invitation to test out the service. I’ve been lucky enought to receive an invitation, and today I finally opened the email and signed up for the service to track this blog.
My first impressions, after using it for just a few hours, are that it is quite usable and very attractive. Unfortunately, this blog generates such little traffic that I don’t quite have the data set I’d like (or is really necessary) for a proper experimentation. Nonetheless, I can comment on the interface, as sparsely full of data as it is, and what I’ve seen so far I really like.
The instructions provided were friendly and clear, yet I still hesitate just a bit at the fact that a user will need to add three separate code snippets into their blog in order for the service to work. I’m most likely overreacting, as most bloggers are either savvy enough on their own or know somebody who is, but still, this is a fairly complicated aspect of an otherwise quite easy service, so it does stand out more than a bit.
The most notable difference between Measure Map and other statistics tools I’ve used (and I’ve used quite a few) is that this one is written for humans, by humans. Most statistics tools provide massive amounts of data, in tiny fonts laid out in giant, barely readable lists. The occasional graph does little to improve the overall experience of navigating between relevant information.
Measure Map, to acclaim, changes that by vastly simplifying the interface to your stats. Data is presented in sentence format uniformly throughout the site. An example: rather than providing a graph of unique visitors for the current day, as many stats programs would, Measure Map speaks to you like this: 8 visitors came to your blog. That’s the same as an average day.
The visual cues do not end at the thoughtful way the stats are presented. Another improvement over the traditional stats service metaphors is how Measure Map organizes the main categories- or metrics- of data. “Visitors” – perhaps the most important bit of info you’ll track- is displayed as one of four large grapics representing the four main stat metrics viewable from your account homepage. The three other metrics- inbound links, comments, and per-post views- are organized in the same way. Subsequently, clicking on any of those four main metric headings provides detailed information about each. Other neat touches- such as highighted historical comparisons (“that’s 3 more than the average day”) and an extremely functional, draggable date sorter- make viewing the rise and fall of your visitors’ attention easy (and fun).
Of course, any application in “alpha” mode is bound to have some limitations, and Measure Map does. While the stats they do mine are displayed elegantly, there are the afforementioned challenges in setting up the code to work on a site (even my brilliant programmer co-worker fumbled, albiet briefly- but the point is made). Not to mention, there is one feature notably absent from Measure Map that I’ve missed already: the ability to see a list of users browsing your site right now. That may not be a particularly valuable feature, but it is a fun one.
Clearly, Measure Map is a blog-centric stats package (the service’s tagline is “get to know your blog”). That narrow focus allows for the blog specific “comments” and “posts” breakdown, yet it also (quite obviously) limits the application’s focus to sites that fit the blog format. By aiming at blogs, Measure Map will be competing with Site Meter, a free statistics service favored by thousands, if not millions, of bloggers. While Site Meter currently offers more data, Measure Map gets the win for interface.
I have two hopes for Measure Map as it moves towards public launch (the last time I heard, that was set for the “new year”). One, I hope that Adaptive Path elects not to charge for the service. Although I wouldn’t blame them if they did, I’d like to at least see a Flickr-style “free” and “pro” differentiation, allowing for advanced features (in the “pro” or paid version) while allowing wide access (the free version). My other hope is that down the road, Measure Map allows for authors to track multiple blogs from within a single account interface.
Using a service as fluid and as helpful as Measure Map really brings to light how popular blogging tools have failed at delivering on such an essential component as web stats. Perhaps Measure Map will lead a renewed focus on stats as the next generation of blogging tools (SixApart’s Project Comet, hosted WordPress, others) emerge.
I’ll continue to keep an eye on Measure Map and report back again.