For those of you that may be unfamiliar with Google Analytics I will give a brief overview of the service before talking about the new version.
Several years back Google launched their Analytics service that allows website owners or developers to insert a snippet of code onto the pages of a website that is not visible, but executes for every page that is loaded for the visitor to view.
This code gathers basic information about the visit. For example, how did the visit enter the site, which pages were visited, and did what other actions did the visitor take while on the site. This information is then presented in graphs and tables within Google Analytics for analysis by the website owner. This information is very valuable, but the best part is it is free.
Several days ago as I was reviewing some sites I help run, I came across a link at the top of the page (see image below). I like to consider myself an early adopter for things like this, so of course I jumped in to check out the new version. After a few days of playing around with it, I think there are some good improvements and some things that will take some getting used to.
The main difference I have found is with the layout of the site. When first landing on the new layout it has a collapsible menu with all of the accounts and sites listed within those accounts. I manage several accounts with many profiles within each account, so this list is pretty long for me. The old version just had you click on the account then it listed the profiles. Now, not only can you get to the profile from the main menu, but a specific area such as "Traffic Sources." This reduces the need to click several times to get to a certain report.
Once a profile is selected, it pulls up a menu with options to select Reports and Intelligence views. In the previous version, these all fell into the same list of options. Then under the subsections of the reports, there is more of a breakdown. The area that most serious analyst rave about is the "Advanced Segments" that allow for more granular analysis into what the visitors are doing on the site. This has been brought over close to the other menus. Previously, it was to the right of the screen. I think this makes for easier navigation and usability.
Within the headers for Reports, the information available is pretty much the same as the old version, just categorized a bit differently. I think this will take some getting used to, but I my prediction is that they may have more reports and features coming soon and they had to roll out this new format, so the new features would fit better into the flow of the interface. For example, to give the Intelligence its own section doesn't make a lot of sense as it stands now, but I can see Google creating many more tools to fall into that category to add value to the users.
Overall, I think the new version was mainly cosmetic and to help with usability, but I see signs that Google is planning on more cutting edge analytics tools to be included in the future. I really think this is an outstanding tool and would recommend it to anyone looking to improve their website traffic reporting.