It is often stated that we are now in the age of the perpetual beta as web services continually evolve to gain competitive advantage, never reaching a final finished product. Whilst we may enjoy the new additions to a favourite web site it can establish bugs in previously stable software. The effect of these bugs can range from the annoying to the potentially disastrous. Google Analytics seems to be having a number of these problems at the moment, hot on the heels of its not displaying graphs properly earlier in the month, I now find that it is refusing to acknowledge “absolute unique visitors”.
When investigating a day’s traffic it is always the absolute unique visitors that I am interested in rather than the total visitors, after all I often visit my own site more than once (and occasionally so do others). However, at some point yesterday Google analytics stopped being able to distinguish an absolute unique visitor. The results say I had a mere 27 absolute unique visitors yesterday, despite visitors from 33 different cities, whilst it currently says that I have had 27 visits today, of which there is not one single absolute unique visitor!
The perpetual beta works when innovation is more important than consistency. For me, in the cases of site statistics and email, consistency is more important than any new innovations.