A Battle of Website Statistic Software: Piwik VS Google Analytics
Recently we’ve came to the attention of a new (new to us anyway) website stats software by the name of Piwik. On the homepage of their site, Piwik claims it aims to be an “open source alternative to Google Analytics.” We currently use Google Analytics on our websites, so we were eager to give Piwik a try to see the differences of the two.
One of the biggest gripes to me with Google Analytics is the fact that once you add your site to the system, Google then has all your data available to them. While this isn’t a big deal to some people, I’m not too comfortable with Google knowing about all the sites I own, how many visitors they received, and the exact search terms visitors are searching to get there.
On the other hand, Google Analytics is extremely easy to install on a website. It takes very little time, and very little coding knowledge. You simply enter in your site information and paste a little snippet of code into your pages. After that you sit back and the visits start registering. All the stats and graphs within Google Analytics are also extremely professional and clean looking, and they aren’t hard to read at all.
Piwik itself had a very easy install, simple upload the files to your site and go through their easy installer (literally 5 minutes at the most!). On the first look, the dashboard layout is very similar to Google Analytics. The charts and features look a little more basic compared to Google Analytics, but they are still very easy to read and ultimately look neat. After using it for a while, Piwik seems to actually register data more accurate than Google Analytics does.
Anything that is in Google Analytics can pretty much be found within Piwik. Another plus side is that when you install Piwik on your server, every last bit of data is yours and yours only. But that also means that if your server goes down, so does your stats and your stat tracking. Google Analytics has the plus side of being hosted on Google’s servers, which have a very, very tiny amount of downtime, if any at all.
Piwik runs using PHP and MySQL, so a little knowledge of those languages may be needed, although definitely not required. I was able to set up Piwik without seeing a bit of PHP or MySQL coding at all. Knowing PHP or MySQL is really only required if you would like to make your own custom edits to the software. As far as setting up the tracking code, it just takes a tiny bit of HTML to input on the page you wish to track stats for.
Overall, I think Piwik can definitely be a contender in the web analytics world. It may take some more time for it to reach that point, although Piwik seems to have a much larger amount of support overseas. It may be a great alternative for Non-Profits and larger corporations that sometimes only use open-source, free software, even though Google Analytics is free.
It also may be a good alternative to those paying big bucks for web tracking analytics such as Omniture.
We plan to keep working with Piwik over the coming months to see which we prefer. We may even find a use for Piwik on some sites and Google Analytics on others. If you think you may enjoy using Piwik, definitely give it a go. You can always install it without messing up your Google Analytics stats if you ever decide to switch back.