After three years of blogging on WordPress.com, I moved back to a self-hosted WordPress.org installation so I could re-learn what I had forgotten and tinker with things that I had never tried before, like caching. When you’re on WordPress.com, you can only use WordPress.com’s built-in stats program, but now that I had a chance to tinker with many of the available stat services and software, I found that I wasn’t missing much (or didn’t need what I was missing).
Obviously, I’m running Jetpack, which gives me the same stats that I had under WordPress.com, but I was on my own now, and I wanted more. The first thing I went to was Google Analytics, but I stopped just short of installing it. Everyone knows what Google Analytics is, and so do I, but if part of running my own WordPress installation was about being on my own, why did I want to dive head-first into a hosted stats program? So, I moved on to what seemed to be the next best thing, Open Web Analytics, an open source and self-hosted direct competitor to Google Analytics. It wasn’t all that great. It has a lot of data, almost too much, but it has no way to filter out my own views, which I consider to be major failure in any stats program. Jetpack stats block your own views as long as you’re simply logged in to your WordPress site, it’s a great feature. If I visit my blog 80 times, and I get 84 visits in the day, I want to know that I actually got 84 visits, not 4.
Moving on, I found Piwik, and I loved it. It provides far more data than I could ever find under Google Analytics, it’s free and open source, it’s hosted and controlled entirely by me, it has a free iOS app for both iPhone and iPad, and best of all, I can block my own visits from being recorded! Piwik is great, and I really wanted to love it, but it’s just too much. At the very least, it reminded me that I really didn’t need all that data.
I wanted more than Jetpack’s stats, but not that much, which brings me to Mint. I had used Mint before moving to WordPress.com, and it’s still here and just as lovely as ever, and I can still block my own views with it. Mint starts off as a simple bare-bones stats experience which you can extend with Peppers, like plugins for WordPress. Just by adding the User Agent 007 Pepper, I had all I needed in addition to the stats provided by Jetpack.
You may notice that there’s a lot of feature overlap between Jetpack and Mint, but that’s a very good thing. No stats program is perfect, not even Google Analytics. Each one filters out bots and bad visitors to a certain degree, some “security” browser add-ons block certain stats programs, and the occasional bug or glitch can foul anything. You will never find two stats programs that agree with each other, and that’s why it’s nice to have more than one to average things out a bit.
In summary, if you have a huge site and love data, I highly recommend Piwik. It’s a gorgeous stats program that I wish I could justify using. As for myself, I’m sticking with Jetpack and Mint.