Review: Woopra

When it comes to website statistics Google Analytics dominates most of our thinking. However, there are some impressive alternatives. One I would like to introduce to you is Woopra.

Screenshot of the Woopra interface

The first thing that sets Woopra apart from Google Analytics is that it is a desktop application. This is both a blessing and a curse.

Live results

One blessing provided by the desktop is the ability to stream live results to the application. You can see users moving around the site, watch as they click between pages and get detailed feedback on their location, history and computer configuration.

Being able to watch users interact with your website in real time is hugely enlightening and tells you much more than Analytics can.

Of course it would be possible to stream live to a website using Flash or AJAX but I am not aware of a stats package that does this.

A rich user interface

Another benefit of being a desktop application is the smoothness and richness of the user experience. From the constantly updating animated map to the interactive graphs and charts, there is something very immediate about the way Woopra works.

User interaction

Woopra popup chat message

Not only can you watch users move around your site it is also possible to interact with them in much the same way as Live Person works.

At any point you can select a user who is browsing your site and choose to "start a conversation". The user sees your message in the form of an instant messaging alert.

I can see real potential in this, especially on ecommerce sites where users so easily abandon baskets. Being able to provide on-site customer support could be hugely beneficial. In fact it is a subject Iwrote about back in 2004 and I still believe it is an under utilised technology.

Of course it could be horribly abused and terribly intrusive. However, it is an invaluable tool for some audiences such as the elderly or those with less online experience who require interactive help.

The curse of the desktop

Woopra is not without its problems. The desktop application is built in Java, which should ensure cross platform compatibility. However installation on a mac was incredibly painful, involving the use of a beta version of Java and fiddling with preference panes. I would hope things were not so bad for windows users.

Another problem with Woopra is that it is currently in closed beta. Fortunately getting hold of an invite is not too difficult. I received mine in a couple of weeks just by using their online application form.

Woopra is now available to anybody who wishes to signup and is entirely free.

So is Woopra the perfect analytics tool? Probably not. However, I have abandoned Google Analytics for the time being in favour of the more interactive, rich environment of Woopra.

  • Interesting review – definitely going to give Woopra a go.
    LOVING the new site by the way! Wish I could get my toes in that grass :)

  • That is pretty awesome and amazing, most impressive that it is free. I am going to look into using this, thank you for telling us about it.

  • Wow paul…you should slow down the pace of your posts now. I’m having a hard time keeping up ;) Woopra seems pretty amazing. Let’s see where it goes.

  • Per

    Here is an Air application which takes Google Analytics to the desktop. Not an official Google product and it’s still in beta. Pretty useful though.

  • How much were you paid for this ‘review’ ha
    Only joking great site, will have to use that

  • Hey Paul, great re-design. I’ve been listening to your podcast for about a year now and love it! I just checked out Woopra and it looks pretty good, unfortunately they have a 2-4 week waiting list before being approved to use it. :( …Still, I’m sure it will be worth the wait.

  • Look a spammer made it through right above me.. Scarry…
    Anyways, Paul I am a long time listener/reader. Thanks for the heads up on Woopla.. Some days I worry that my website will rely to much on Google. (Apps, SEO, PPC, Analytics, Ecommerce Gateway).
    Do you ever worry you will wake up one day and rather than using the internet you will be using “the google”?

  • I was excited to find an alternative to Google Analytics. However, the set up on a Mac was very painful with little to no documentation to assist the user.
    The pending approval time is a major drawback. I’m sure many will see past it though if Woopra delivers what it promises.

  • jm

    No problem for me on a Mac :-) Just fire up the Java Preferences app (I love Spotlight!) and make sure Java 6 has priority for running apps (I gave it priority for browsers as well just for the heck of it), then download and install the dmg file. Pretty lame that you have to get “approval” for a site though :( If I have access to the site then I don’t see what they need to approve me for. Maybe they want to verify the traffic load so as not to overload their own servers that collect the data? Looks neat enough to give a try though, and because it’s free I did :)

  • Great review. Looks like it’s worth a look. And the chatting is an interesting, albeit, kinda creepy feature.
    There IS a tracking app that I’ve used that does the real-time, web-based, visitor activity: Clicky, It’ll be interesting to see how they stack up against each other.