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


In which I feel truly validated.

I know work on Kownter has stalled – there are other things afoot – but then an “excitable nerd” with 22,000 followers on Twitter says this:

And suddenly the race for simpler, more privacy-aware analytics is on!

Who am I kidding? Paul and his companion Danny will do a WAY better job than I will. BUT, I have a working prototype so maybe I’m a nose ahead and this will inspire me to keep going. [Update: I’m not a nose ahead – Danny already has a prototype too!]

Thoughts on Paul’s mockup:

  • There’s return visitors and journey tracking – so presumably they will use cookies? Or some other cleverness that they’ve thought of but I haven’t. This is all walking a line between end-user privacy and functionality. Decisions will need to be made.
  • There’s no charts! Which I find interesting. I had at the back of my mind that I would add them later on. I like the up/down arrows comparing the previous time period, and YES, I was definitely going to do that!
  • There’s “Signups”, which is also interesting. I’d been toying with the idea of event tracking. I’m using JS tracking code, so no reason I couldn’t make an API for tracking simple events. OR you can get a ratio of people visiting a form page vs people visiting a thank you page, for example. But this won’t work in more dynamic, JS-driven apps.
  • There’s no sign of user agents/browsers. I currently store the raw user agent string, but finding a complete, accurate and up-to-date mapping of UA strings to browser names hasn’t been easy. This is something that an organisation the size of Google can put resources into but I can’t, sadly. Perhaps I should drop it? But it’s data I can get and it can be useful so…hmm… [Update: Daniel Aleksandersen pointed me at Piwik/Matomo’s Device Detector]

I absolutely, 100% applaud the fact that someone else is having a go at building this. Go and sign up for their announcements if you’re interested.



3 Responses

  1. There is a working prototype of Fathom up on GitHub.

    “There’s return visitors and journey tracking – so presumably they will use cookies”

    They don’t currently use cookies but fingerprint visitors based on a combination of IP, User-Agent, and screen dimensions. This isn’t really the way to go about it. Mobile devices roam between networks/IP addresses several times in a normal day. I made some suggestions on how they can track retention and sessions without assigning unique identifiers on their bug tracker.

    “There’s no charts!”

    Have you consider using sparklines? I’ve gone a bit overboard with them recently, but they convey a lot of information on one line of text. (Look at the implementation – they’re drawn from a single SVG file.)

    “finding a complete, accurate and up-to-date mapping of UA strings to browser names hasn’t been easy”

    Have a look at device-detector (browsers.yml).

  2. rosswintle says:

    Ah, that’s cool. I really wish I was a designer. I had something very similar to their original mock-up in my mind (modern, colourful blocks, quite material-design style), tabs for 24 hours/7 days/1 month/all-time, arrows denoting a positive or negative change since the last time period.

    I’ll keep plugging away! Thanks for the encouragement and comments.

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