I've been using Performancing Metrics (PM) and Google Analytics (GA) stats services for respectively two months and two weeks, and I guess it's a fair amount of time to draw some conclusions on those products.
Round 1 : User Experience
Even though User Experience (UX) might sound as a complicated concept, it's pretty dead simple. It ranges from sign up phase to customer support, and every little thing that leads to a positive or negative opinion on one service or product.
I first heard of GA through a post at Signal vs Noise in november 2005. The first thing that was mentionned about GA was the lack of support for Safari, oops. We all know that Google's products are often exclusively released for Windows PC, but you're never pleased to hear that you can't use some services with your favourite browser. The post also mentionned that the service was free, which incited me to give it a try. I was welcomed by a nice message from google, and it was something like that: We're currently experiencing some hardware issues due to the huge number of subscription. Sign up for an invitation and we will send it to you as soon as we can deal with the traffic. (Those are not the exact words, it's all I can recall from 6 months ago). I received the invitation two weeks ago (6 months later), and signed up. For GA to track your stats, you have to insert a little script at the bottom of each page. It was simple and easy. Then you have to check if you've implemented the script properly. This is where things went wrong (again). Each status check was a failure and was concluded by a "Google Analytics is in maintenance, please come back later" kind of message. Cool.
On the contrary, signing up for PM was fast and easy. I heard about PM in a post on Digg and this quote sumed it nicely:
So far it looks better than Google Analytics just by the fact you can actually sign up for it.
I was able to sign up immediately and inserted the script in the footer of this site. They warned me that 24h were necessary for stats to show up and after a day, I was able to track my stats. Nice.
Score: Performancing Metrics 1, Google Analytics 0.
After 50 attempts at checking if the GA script was properly inserted, I emailed GA support to let them know something was not working. They emailed back within 2 hours. They were honest and told me that they were having issues with their "check status" feature and confirmed that the script on my site was working properly. It's great to know there is somebody at Google who cares about users.
I never had to contact PM support because everything was working fine for me. Some people experienced downtime and wrong stats numbers, and shared their experiences on the PM forum. All questions have been answered by administrators, so I guess it's fair to say that the PM support is also efficient.
Score: Performancing Metrics 2, Google Analytics 1.
Round 2 : Stats.
No matter how good or bad the User Experience is, the most important thing in a web stat service, is, well you guessed it, stats.
Both services offers similar features such as Visits and Pageviews,Referrers, browser - OS informations and so on. We all agree on the fact that visualizing stats through graphs is the best way to know what's going on on our site, and both services display nice graphs. It wouldn't be fair if I didn't mentionned that GA interface is more refined than PM's one, but the differences are not as big as I what I thought. I mean, in one hand we have Google which is making billions in revenues each year, purchased Urchin... and on the other hand we have Performancing, which you can read about on their About page
There is just one thing that bugs the hell out of me in Google Analytics: I haven't found a way to display the number of visits on the graphs. Only percentages are displayed on graphs (correct me if I'm wrong). What does that mean ? Well, 10.53 % of visitors came from Digg last week. Great, but how many individual does that mean ? well, I have no idea. I have around 20 pageviews per day right now, so I guess thos 10.53% means 2 visitors. PM is giving me both information, percentage and number of visits, which is , for my low traffic analysis a crucial information.
Final score: Performancing Metrics 3, Google Analytics 1.
I made my mind, and I won't be using GA anymore. Performancing Metrics does a better job for me. Don't get me started on the Measure Map invitation I've been waiting for impatiently...