Damn Lies and Statistics

I was chatting with a friend of mine yesterday and he is about to create a website from scratch.

He had decided to do a fixed width site and had run into one of those chicken and the egg problems.
How big to format the site design. Which screen resolution? 800 by 600? 1024 by 768? Bigger? Smaller? and then there are browsers, which are the most popular and which OS.

Fortunately for him all of this information is available on the internet under the heading Web Stats and Trending over at Browser Statistics

and here is the answer to his questions…

Internet Explorer 6 is the dominating browser, XP is the most popular operating system, and most users are using a display with 1024×768 pixels or more, with a color depth of at least 65K colors.

And there aren’t really any surprises there. But it leads us along to the next question.

If you already have a website or a blog?
Do you ever wonder how many people pop in and have a look?
How about, where do they come from and how did they find you?

We are now in the realm of stats.

Now the first place to look for this info is your webhost and see what they can tell you. If your account doesn’t have enough info, then this is for you.

There are free services you can install that can tell you all about the traffic on your site. They range from simple hit counters (personally I think they are a waste of time) that just display a total number of visitors. There are also more advanced statistics services that can give you information about referrers, browsers, visiting times, and way more.

Nearly all these following services have the same procedure. Simply sign up, insert a snippet of code in your page, and you are away.

In no particular order some selections….

STATCOUNTER? http://www.statcounter.com/
A free yet reliable invisible web tracker, highly configurable hit counter and real-time detailed web stats.
Upside: Free. Downside only has details on the last 100 hits unless you pay for it. The detail is good and I have one client who is happily using the free service.

http://extremetracking.com/ is recommended by a lot of people but I haven’t used it. Caveat Emptor

RiteCounter is a new kid on the block but the demo looks pretty cool. I have a test account running and we shall see what it looks like in a month.
The Free model seems really generous so far and it is really good to look at from an eye candy point of view.

Here is some of their hype…

A free, invisible web tracker, loaded with valuable tools and features!
There are many hit counter services out there that promise you the world – for a fee. At RiteCounter, we decided it was time someone took all the best features from the existing hit counters out there, added a few more on top, and offered the entire package to people as a free service.

My favourite FREE service. Site Meter
I am currently testing this one out on another site and checking it against the figures that the PRETENTIA server stats engine (we use AWSTATS) generates.

The hype…

Site Meter is a free, fast, and easy way to add a web counter to your web page. Not only does it display the number of visitors to your web site, it also keeps statistics on the number of visits each hour and each day.

Now if you have a blog out there Site Meter would be my pick for you… they have detailed instructions on how to install it on wordpress.com, blogger, and just about everyone else.

If I had to pick one only, Sitemeter would currently be it.


  1. Good article, thanks!

    Before I spend time checkin ’em out, do you happen to know which of these services (if any) let you know how many times each file has been downloaded from, for example, a file download page?

  2. Arguably all of them. But most of the “free” sites would save that level of detail for the paid upgrade.

    PRETENTIA.COM stats give the level of detail you want, it may be in your hosts stats.

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