Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Monday, September 15, 2021

I guess everyone can use a refresher course on how not to do things, and Sitemeter provided that object lesson this past weekend. No sooner did they roll out an ill-advised, Flash-powered overhaul of their web traffic reporting system, than they (temporarily) junked it in the face of near-universal backlash.

The new interface wasn’t received well by many SiteMeter users… There were login problems, reporting problems, interface problems, and just plain problems.

Only hours after several sites posted news stories about the update, SiteMeter rolled back to the old interface. That seems to have been more than a trivial job, because they shut down the whole SiteMeter.com Web site for several hours to make it happen. It’s an embarrassing retreat.

Yes it is. It’s doubtlessly cost Sitemeter a fair number of users, both existing and prospective. As I ruminated yesterday, I have a feeling this was by design, even before the decision to revert back to the Classic platform, simply to root out non-paying users and simultaneously lighten the load on their servers. Although honestly, in light of this hamhandedness, it’s probably optimistic to imagine the Sitemeter braintrust being competent enough to orchestrate anything like this — the truth is, they probably just fucked things up on a grand scale. Their previous screw-up regarding the IE7 bug points to an endemic cluelessness.

Regardless of the motives, they’ve lost me as a user. Just like everyone else, my Sitemeter account is back to its familiar version, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s dead. The main reason why is because this restoration is actually temporary, as indicated by Sitemeter itself:

The first thing we need to do, moving forward, is to roll out new product releases in parallel to our current platform. This will give everyone a chance to try out, evaluate, and comment on our new concepts.

I’m reading this as meaning that the new Flash/Flex interface won’t be gone forever. Rather, it’ll be phased in gradually, in the hopes that users will warm up to it. That would make sense, since you can assume that Sitemeter wouldn’t completely abandon a redesign that was months in the making and probably cost a pretty penny to complete — they’re not going to just write off that financial commitment, regardless of user reaction.

So yes, they’re eventually going to move back to the Flash version. As I stated yesterday, that’s not going to work for me simply because I won’t be able to access it on my iPod Touch. And even if the iTouch does somehow get Flash-enabled in the near future, I wouldn’t want to mess with them anyway. They’re nothing but overkill for displaying basic traffic logs — a phony attempt at selling robustness. No thanks.

Plus, I’m not particularly willing to aid Sitemeter with this proposed beta testing toward reintroducing a service that I’m not going to like, regardless of its final form. I can’t imagine who else would be willing either, since their actions to date indicate they don’t have much patience for pacing themselves according to user feedback and preferences. Frankly, I see them doing nothing more than wasting time over the next several months, paying lip service to beta-test feedback, and then wind up re-installing the same garbage that was on display this past weekend. Again, no thanks.

For myself, I took the opportunity to switch over to StatCounter. It was a fairly trouble-free registration and installation procedure; there’s even a WordPress plugin for it, although I haven’t used that method yet. StatCounter’s web-accessible stats provide everything that Sitemeter’s did, and probably more. I’m mainly concerned with the referral/visitor paths, and that’s easy enough to target.

(Something else that’s encouraging: StatCounter has a corporate blog worthy of the spirit of blogging, i.e. regular communication and open commenting; versus Sitemeter’s blog, which is updated every couple months and only when disaster strikes, plus is defaulted to not accept comments. The contrast speaks volumes on how differently the two services operate, I think.)

It’ll take some time to get comfortable with StatCounter’s look and feel, but I’m happy enough in the early going. As far as website disasters go, this one was pretty minor. At least for me — for Sitemeter, I suspect it’s a bit more severe.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 09/15/2008 02:23:20 PM
Category: Bloggin'
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