OneStat

  • Reports available up to the minute
  • Basic reports, inaccurate, hard to use and poor implementation requiring intensive management

OneStat is one of the few providers of real-time website analysis. Although not as well known as Google or WebTrends, the company provides tracking services to Thomas Cook, HP, MIT, FujiFilm and various other big name companies.

Based in the Netherlands, the company has a tiered range of hosted analytics service. The basic service, Pro, costing 68 per year is aimed at small sites and offers basic reports including page views, visits, which pages are being visited and how visitors are navigating the site. Other tiers increase the number of reports and the price all the way up to the Enterprise service aimed at medium to large sites, which costs 1,810 per year. Enterprise includes reports on referrals from web directories, search engines, visitor segmentation, commerce and advertising conversions, as well as enhanced versions of the Pro reports and a Report Builder service.

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Use of the service requires inclusion of a standard set of JavaScript tags in any page being tracked. While this didn't increase the time taken to display the page's contents, time to completion of a full page load was visibly increased by between one and two seconds. On any ad-carrying page, most users will probably attribute the delay to slow ads, but on other pages this could become a bigger problem. The JavaScript is configurable and multiple scripts can be created for different pages on the site.

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Access to reports is via a standard browser. While other services put specific requirements on which browsers and which technologies need to be installed for reports to work, OneStat is browser agnostic, which makes it easy to access reports from almost anywhere. Encryption via SSL is available to ensure tracking data is passed securely to browsers.

The reports themselves are relatively basic, offering few of the frills of even Google Analytics. Although the interface is simple and easy to understand, there's no breakdown of reports by job role or activity, only a list of all those available. Summary reports offer reasonably useful graphs, but there's no colour-coding and the more detailed information is very difficult to read. The system also does little to overcome anomalies without a fair degree of intervention: visitors to our test site from the Kent Messenger Group, for instance, were tagged as having come from Pakistan according to the system's geographic reports.

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More advanced reports are again relatively basic and hard to understand. Click path analysis, for instance, uses page URLs rather than page titles, relies on a colour-coded legend for explanation, rather than mouse-overs, and offers no ability to sort based on click path length. This results in single page click paths dominating the first listings, with no way to access better reports of the raw data without using the enterprise-grade report builder.

These are all irritating enough but if there's one severe deficiency it's with the Commerce and Campaign Managers. These allow you to track the progress of your ad campaigns and progress through your site during transactions. But they require extensive work to be made usable: the commerce manager requires unique JavaScript for each page and action in the funnel, while the campaign manager also requires unique JavaScript and URL parameters passed from the ad campaign. Compared with other services this is clunky at best and inexcusable extra work at worse.

OneStat is a potentially useful service with real time analysis providing up to the minute information you can act on immediately should you want to. Unfortunately it is spoilt by poor implementation and poor management. Avoid.

Verdict

Hard to use service that should be avoided at all costs

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