Why am I doing this, again?

Simple, private, self-hosted, cookie free website analytics...one day...maybe

Why am I doing this, again?

I’m totally open to the idea that I will probably end up realising that there are too many problems to solve here and I’ll end up using an off-the-shelf, open source tool instead. But I’m plugging on because it’s fun.

I actually now have a very very basic working system that is collecting data from three low-traffic sites. It does basic tracking and has a single site display, but that’s about all right now. Here’s what I’ve got:

There aren’t even graphs at this point. This is not huge progress, but it’s approaching some kind of minimal viable product that I can iterate upon.

Now, I keep asking myself “Why, Ross. Why are you doing this?” and having this MVP actually helps answer some of that.

I like using it

Though it’s incredibly minimal, I actually love using what I’ve built.

It’s fast (for now). It’s simple. I have zero concerns about privacy. I feel like I can deploy this wherever I like. The data is mine. The data is in the UK. I don’t need to tell people I’m using it (do I? someone please correct me if I’m wrong because this is the whole premise of the thing!). I could turn off Google Analytics and the plugins I use in WordPress to control that on a bunch of sites right away.

Aside: I’ve been slimming down use of “commercial” WordPress plugins lately. Jetpack, as an example, has become far too corporate and intrusive in its in-dashboard marketing and upgrade nudges. This isn’t making me upgrade, it’s making me get annoyed and want to turn it off. There’s an analytics plugin that falls into this category too. I get the need to up-sell, but really…get out of my dashboard so much!

Importantly, my sites’ analytics are easy to get to and all in once place. I could accomplish quite of lot of what I have here with server logs and a tool like AWStats that usually comes with cPanel hosting (which I use a bit of), or the excellent GoAccess command-line log analyzer. But I have stuff on different servers with different logins, and having it all quickly and easily accessible from a single place. It’s so easy to just log in and flick through my sites for insights.

It’s got me interested in my site’s analytics again

As a result of particularly this last bit, I’ve become interested in my analytics again. Who knew that my review of my bike was viewed a lot or that some random thing I wrote 6 years ago still crops up in, presumably, search results (I’ll find this out later on when I do per-page reporting).

It’s also served me a reminder that (for secret reasons that I know about but won’t go into publicly) my technical skills page gets a lot of hits too, and it’s really out of date (seriously – don’t read it, it’s old news)! 😱

I must do something about that.

So, yeah. This is fun, interesting and has value. I’ll keep at it and see where it goes.