Part of a Whole

My name is Nicolas Steenhout.
I speak, train, and consult about inclusion, accessibility and disability.

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Test-Driving Woopra

Have you heard of Woopra? Probably not. I certainly hadn’t until last week. It’s a new system to track site statistics à la Google Analytics, only it’s in real time, and it lives on your desktop. It’s a closed beta release at the moment, though they have over 20,000 testers, including myself now :) I like the idea of being able to get real time information. Of course, all these statistics remind me that we’re living in a world where Big Brother is indeed watching, and that anyone can become little brother, watching as well.

Nonetheless, it is accepted that website owners wish to know some basic information about their visitors. Sometimes it is to better target advertising. Sometimes it is to know which product, service, or page works best for visitors, and provide them better service by giving more of that type of content. For many, it’s just plain curiousity. It’s not *all* nefarious, not by a long shot.

So, setting aside the big brother aspect, I’m looking at the Woopra service. So far so good. It is different from Google Analytics in many ways, which shows me that the two tracking systems can be complementary, rather than redundant. As I said earlier, one great aspect of Woopra is how you can see what’s happening with your visitors "in real time".

There are a few things that could be improved in the system (scrolling marquee of statistics that appears not to be able to be turned off, inability to remove your own visits from the visitors’ list). But by and large I have found the interface to be fairly friendly. I have not run it through any accessibility testing at this point, and may not do so for a while.

There is one feature that might be startling to people. If I am looking at my stats, and see that someone is currently looking on my site, I am able to initiate a chat with them. This really could be seen as Big Brother watching. Who wants to go to a website and have the site owner pop out of seemingly nowhere and initiate conversation? Yet, with a bit more development from Woopra, this feature could actually become a great benefit. What if it were reversed, if there was a way for visitors to initiate interaction through Woopra, as a way to offer "Live support". Being able to tell what the user is viewing, what other pages they’ve already been on, etc, would allow whomever is handling the chat to focus assistance better.

Anyway, this post isn’t about accessibility. I am just sharing with you that I am test driving a new system that might be beneficial to you, and I shall report in a little bit what, if anything, I find after using the stats for a while.