September 14, 2008

I hate hate hate hate the new SiteMeter.

This is the worst non-improvement of a website I've ever seen. "Seen" is an exaggeration. I feel like I can't even can't see the new charts. It is ugly and unreadable. The statistics were once so clear and sharply presented, featuring the information that was most useful to the blogger.

I was willing to pay $30 a month for the premium service. Now, premium service is only $6.95 a month, but I'll probably drop it, because I never want to lay eyes on that horrible website again.

Are they trying to be more like Google Analytics? I've never spent much time on Google Analytics and have always thought it was for businesses that are not bloggers. What is the point of SiteMeter now?

Everything I loved about SiteMeter -- and you can click on the SiteMeter tag to read how I've adored it -- is gone.


I'm throwing away my most-clicked-on bookmark.

AND: Everyone else hates it too!

ADDED: Jac says:
It's like they didn't test this out on anyone before they launched it.
Yes! All that effort, and apparently they never saw fit to get one real SiteMeter fan to sit down and try to use it. Anyone would have told them it was a huge screw-up. It's like they just envied Google Analytics and tried to go there.... like when Coke thought it should be more like Pepsi, but never invited some real Coke drinkers to take a few sips of New Coke and say how they liked it. It could have saved them a whole hell of a lot of trouble, expense, and humiliation.
I can't believe there are people who actually got paid to create this redesign and recommend implementing it. Why wasn't there anyone in charge who stepped in and said, "Wait, we can't do this -- it's just not good enough"?
Some people think the status quo can't really be very good. We need change. Let's try some things. A lot of things. America wants change. Yeah, but what if you do all those things you think might be really cool and it's just a bad, terrible mess? Then what?

UPDATE: SiteMeter listens!
SiteMeter Rollback....

Good Afternoon,

We have received and heard your feedback concerning the latest changes to the website. We will implementing a rollback to the website immediately. We will also be responding to each of your support requests as soon as possible. If you have any questions please let us know.


SiteMeter Support Team
Via Sissy Willis.

Great news. I was just responding to an IM from someone who was praising an alternative website. My end of the conversation:
i don't wanna
I am still in denial...

i want old sitemeter back
it's really important to me...
So, cool! I love when denial works!


rhhardin said...

You're in trouble when your favorite butterscotch topping one day says ``New and Improved'' too.

AllenS said...

Ann opens the fortune cookie of life and finds out that it says: New SiteMeter, not so much.

Automatic_Wing said...

The New Coke of websites! How long before they change it back?

miller said...

This type of change is the sign of a program manager trying to justify his salary. I've been seeing it all the time at the software companies I work at.

Note that by putting it into flash, the program manager makes this content inaccessible to people with visual acuity issues. But hey, pretty colors!

Thanks for that, man.

Truly young software developers are the most selfish and self-absorbed people in the world.

rhhardin said...

Computer science graduate students have always been morons.

``Hey I'll reorganize everything that's traditional and make it better, while at the same time making everything stop working.''

Nowadays it just takes the form of plug-ins.

miller said...

Note: I meant "truly, young software ...".

That missing comma makes it sound like I'm alleging that only truly young software developers are stupid and selfish, when I meant to say archly that "truly, only the young software developers..."

Sheesh. How did Joseph Conrad do so well in this language? It's full of traps.

Anonymous said...

I can't help but feel that we are all being subjected to a giant, paid beta test of their new system.
I'm guessing that there is a lot of new info to be had that we'll all like (I like your previous post about how much you like Sitemeter), bu this flash interface is just a war crime....

TWM said...

Try StatCounter.

EnigmatiCore said...

Lesson to be learned: Change is not, in and of itself, a good thing.

miller said...

Also, insidiously, Flash is being used by websites to get around the problem of people turning off cookies for third-party sites.

Unknown to most people, Flash by default puts cookie-like objects on your system that your browser doesn't track.

I hate, detest, and despise websites that try to smuggle in stuff onto MY machine that THEY can use (for free!) for their own purposes that I haven't agreed to.

I won't mention any names, but some popular consumer websites use tiny Flash objects this way to track consumers without their knowledge.

Hate, loathe, and despise these websites - and the young program managers who knowingly do this (knowing that it violates the users' knowledge and privacy) because "hey, most people are too stupid to realize this, and we'll get free data without their knowledge."

I've sat in on too many meetings like this. "Hey, here's a nifty idea that will help us and violate user confidence and trust if they find out, but they will never find out!."

Anonymous said...

I agree the new sitemeter is garbage. I just logged on today and I can't see any of my stats, WTH!!!!

Rick Lee said...

Oh man, this is bad. When Google Analytics started up, I got an account and tried it out and I recall that I couldn't get any useful information out of it. I assumed that professional webmasters must have use for that info but to me it was just all Greek. So too the new Sitemeter. It's completely useless to me now.

Harwood said...

Ann said: I'm throwing away my most-clicked-on bookmark.


Same here. I just notified their service department that they can close my account. I won't be back.

This is the biggest marketing blunder since "New Coke." I can't help wondering: Do they make any effort to learn what their customers might want (and don't want) before they launch into such a radical overhaul?

miller said...

This will be marketed with the phrase "in order to serve you better..."

I worked at a large corporation for a while, which had buildings scattered across a square mile of ground.

Two of the buildings, sited next to each other, were mirror-images, and the buildings were named something like "10 West" and "10 East." And, of course, offices were numbered, so it was critical to know whether someone was in 10W/1050 or 10E/1050.

At some point, the corporate IT guys removed this information from the corporate address book (leaving the "10") so that all addresses were simply 10/1050 and the like.

This, of course, meant that if you were unfamiliar with the buildings and were running to a meeting, you had a 50% chance of being in the wrong building.

The reason for removing the "E" and "W" from the building / office information in the corporate address book?

"In order to serve you better."

How did it serve me better to remove this information?

Never could get an answer.

This SiteMeter change is like that. "We've made a random change that actually reduces the utility of the feature, but someone in our group got a raise and/or promotion for this idea, so there ya go. As Marion Ross says, 'Sit on it' if ya don't like it."

miller said...

Rick Lee agrees.

The New Sitemeter Is Useless

Anonymous said...

"Yeah, but what if you do all those things you think might be really cool and it's just a bad, terrible mess? Then what?"

That's easy enough to answer - you don't re-elect Barack Obama.

rhhardin said...

There was a problem in awk once, that Bell Labs room numbers like 1E-230 would cause a floating point underflow.

This was fixed by not converting from strings what didn't have to be converted from strings, rather than renumbering the buildings.

Randy said...

Despite tremendous hope that the change would be for the better, it led instead to disappointment and bitterness. The fancy graphics and high-tech fluff can't disguise the lack of content.

EnigmatiCore said...

"Flash is being used by websites to get around the problem of people turning off cookies for third-party sites.

Unknown to most people, Flash by default puts cookie-like objects on your system that your browser doesn't track. "

Firefox with Flashblock is a beautiful thing.

I'm Full of Soup said...

Our business uses Yahoo service for its website and email.

I was pissed recently when Yahoo made a change that f-ed up my email signature on my outgoing emails. It randomly moved business name, address, phone #,s website etc so that it now looked like an amateur had prepared the signature lines.

As I said I was pissed at their stupidity but before I could complain it was restored (took a week or so) to what it had been.

My point is site meter will likely learn of customer displeasure and their own errors and fix them Ann. So take a deep breath and keep your fingers crossed.

miller said...

Keep your fingers crossed, sure, but

(a) complain LOUDLY and OFTEN to their customer service dept and
(b) complain LOUDLY, OFTEN, and PUBLICLY on your blogs and websites. Link to others. Post to forums.

Places like SiteMeter do not react to mere customer complaints (although especially delicious complaint letters might get forwarded). However, they react to PUBLIC complaints.

You can also try (c) call them up to discontinue your subscription. If enough people do that, they might listen. Having been a part of this before on other sites, however, even clearly stated reasons for leaving do not get filtered up to the people that decide these things. Often they dismiss these complaints as "cranks."

Go the public route. Frequent, loud complaints.

Waldorf said...

Yup, logged on today and despaired.

It's not just a case of not being used it it - it's just poorly constructed. Information that I could get at a glance in seconds now takes drilling down through half a dozen clicks.

Can't even find the search terms link.

Sigh - they've got till the end of September to fix it then we're gone.

Mohammed said...

I agree, the new sitemeter is completely unusable. They have also removed a lot of features from the free service. I have just switched to statcounter, it's not as good as the old sitemeter but it's definitely better than the new one.

Rick Lee said...

Perhaps they'll now offer us the old free Sitemeter back... for a price.

I'm Full of Soup said...

BTW hatred can be good for you.

Joe said...

Now, imagine fighting crap like this every day. That's the life of a software engineer. Unfortunately, too many people don't realize that MBAs don't know shit. Yet, companies hire them and put them in charge and let them pretend they are designers and engineers.

Mr Eugenides said...

Fully agreed with all of the above. I can't make head or tail of it, and I've become reasonably web-savvy through 3 years of blogging.

Plus, now I don't actually seem to be able to get into it to see my stats, much less start the laborious process of drilling down to find the info that was so much easier to access last week.

Not impressed.

David Stehle said...

I hate it too! And I think I'm dropping them after nearly 4 years.

They got rid of the way I used to display my counter...number of visitors since January 1, 2005.

I also use StatCounter, but I'm not crazy about it either. Anyone have a suggestion for something better?

Brad V said...

Our sitemeter icon and link simply disappeared during the transition somehow.

Mucho pissed.

chuck b. said...

How do you find referrals?

I don't check my sitemeter very often, but I did use it to update my links from the referral list.

kimsch said...

It's just awful, I can't tell what my stats are and I can't even find a way to manage the damn thing. Nowhere to go from the stat page. Drop downs with only one choice?

Mary said...

I hate hate hate hate hate hate HATE the new SiteMeter.

It's new, but it's not improved.

Can't stand it.

Zachary Sire said...

It's pretty much the worst thing I've ever seen. Whoever "improved" sitemeter should be taken out back and...

vbspurs said...

I see that Instapundit is asking for a freebie alternative, so that saves me from asking me the same of you guys.

Shiny Stats is not terribly good, but it is the only one I have now. Either way, I really want classic Site Metre back, and would be willing to pay for it...



vbspurs said...

Ah, I see Rick Lee and I have the same devious business model in mind.

Anonymous said...

Mary said...
I hate hate hate hate hate hate HATE the new SiteMeter.

It's new, but it's not improved.

Can't stand it.

John McCain laughs at all of you. His disabilities come in handy, so to speak.

Meanwhile, apparently Sarah Palin created problems with the new SiteMeter to trouble her enemies.

And she did it using only the power of her will. She doesn't need a computer.

vbspurs said...

Okay, since no one referenced it, I will:

Some people think the status quo can't really be very good. We need change. Let's try some things. A lot of things. America wants change. Yeah, but what if you do all those things you think might be really cool and it's just a bad, terrible mess? Then what?

Anyone get the feeling that Ann ain't talking about Site Metre anymore?


Synova said...

I'm slow because I was about to say...

"We need change. Let's try some things. A lot of things. America wants change. Yeah, but what if you do all those things you think might be really cool and it's just a bad, terrible mess?"

This is a political statement, yes?

Or the definition of progressivism.

I don't think that even some conservatives realize that conservatism isn't a political philosophy, a set group of ideas, but a general cautiousness, a skepticism, when it comes to the next "great thing." New ideas are adopted... just more slowly.

In fact, what is "conserved" now is really classical liberalism.

Liberals have moved on.

tree hugging sister said...

To quote myself, "It sucks so bad it BLOWS".

And I'm being kind.

All I ever wanted to know was who's on, where'd they come from and how many web travelers stumbled in today. Cheap and easy questions answered instantly with the old one.


vbspurs said...

Synova wrote:

This is a political statement, yes?

Or the definition of progressivism.

I've always wanted to Cafepress this t-shirt message:

Louis XVI - Robespierre
Nicholas II - Lenin
Wilhelm II - Weimar - Hitler
Pu-Yi - Mao Tse-Tung
Norodom Sihanouk - Pol Pot

...sometimes change ain't so good.

Might make a good coffee mug too.


Eric said...

I agree. I was thoroughly dismayed when I saw the new SiteMeter this morning.

I've had Google Analytics tracking going on for about 8 months now, and I guess I'll stick with that and just drop the SM code completely from my blog.

SiteMeter Basic used to be perfect for a low traffic blog like mine, but with the amount of traffic you get, you'll probably like Google Analytics. It's a bit of overkill for me. But it's still free.

Anonymous said...

I can't even sign in to see what they've done.

I signed in with my old codename/password, got the "migration successful" message, and tried to sign in with my email address. Now, it just keeps looping back to the main page. When I use my old code name, it says it's already migrated, and to use the email address.

Hate. Hate. Hate.

Anonymous said...

I honestly cried. I really did. First, it took forever to get on and now that I'm on, I'm so confused.

Most of my stats on Friday and all of Saturday are gone. They said they were tracking them?

I have to login every time I refresh even with the save password button

My outclicks aren't being tracked at all. I tested it.

Seeing the IP numbers instead of the names doesn't help me. I've even had some IP addresses including one by a creep disappear altogether even though they should at least be in the history.

I don't know why the tracked visitors with information differs so much from the numbers of people listed on the entry page section and the nationality section.

Why do we need a demographic section, when most of the time gender and income level aren't even recorded?

I have a paid account but I think I'm switching.

Peter Patau said...

I read that they've announced they're going to make the old version available again, but how could I ever trust someone who pulled something like this again? They ruined my Sitemeter, and I've tossed it onto the trash heap of Web history.

ptg said...

The new sitemeter stinks on ice. The old format was good. You nailed it: a non improvement. This service wouldn't be useful if it were free.

Gina said...

I don't know anything about SiteMeter, but it's like this when we get an SAP update at work. I always hear "update" or "upgrade" and scream NOOOOO!!! What used to work just fine and take 2 steps now takes 5. Gee, thanks.

kimsch said...

They're rolling it back.

Anonymous said...

I got one look at the new Sitemeter and was as disgruntled as anyone about it -- figuring out basic things such as which readers arrived in what order from where suddenly seemed impossible -- but it appears to have crumbled under the criticism it has been receiving all day.

A message is now up on the Sitemeter site announcing:

"Good Afternoon, We have received and heard your feedback concerning the latest changes to the website. We will implementing a rollback to the website immediately. We will also be responding to each of your support requests as soon as possible."

As Andrew Sullivan would say, far too often: Know hope.

MadisonMan said...

How come the count is over 28 million now?

Frank said...

Get Clicky!!!

I finally dumped Sitemeter for a metric service that delivers stats and info I'm actually interested in. =P

blake said...

The link is dead: Sitemeter is rolling back to the previous iteration.


rhhardin said...

Try no traffic counting at all. I find that approach very peaceful.

Anonymous said...

Do they have an old version to go back to? Are our accounts going to be really screwed up?

I'm done. Totally. I should have left when they almost took the internet when they tested a code change on FF not IE and then went home for the weekend.

I emailed some PC article writers about this one. Maybe they'll do a writeup.

Anonymous said...

"Okay, since no one referenced it, I will:"

Hey, I referenced it, Victoria. See my comment at 9:47 am. I even brought Barack Obama directly into it since it did seem pretty clear to me that Ann was using it as a metaphor to talk about the election.

I also loved Randy's response:

"Despite tremendous hope that the change would be for the better, it led instead to disappointment and bitterness. The fancy graphics and high-tech fluff can't disguise the lack of content."

I don't think he was talking about SiteMeter either.

Anonymous said...

Well the pox is gone. My old account is back!

David Stehle said...

Did you see this? SiteMeter switched back to the old version – thank God!

Roger Sweeny said...

The Coca-Cola Company actually did ask quite a large number of Coke drinkers to "take a few sips of New Coke"--and then listened to their responses. They liked it.

Alas, "taking a few sips" and drinking a whole can turned out to be significantly different experiences. They liked the first, hated the second.

Change is complex (and, yes, that's a political statement).

blake said...

That's an interesting take on New Coke. I'd always heard it that it wasn't that New Coke tasted bad so much as people had a visceral reaction to Coke itself being changed at all.

They might prefer the taste in a blind taste test, in other words, but life isn't a blind taste test.

Roger Sweeny said...

Before the introduction of new Coke, Pepsi had been running a series of ads touting the Pepsi Challenge. Blindfolded people would take a taste of Coke and Pepsi, and then find out that the drink they preferred was Pepsi. The ads were very well-known and, for whatever reason, Coke was losing market share.

From the wikipedia article on "New Coke":

In talks, and his book Blink, author Malcolm Gladwell relates his conversations with market researchers in the food industry who put most of the blame for the failure of New Coke on the flawed nature of taste tests. They claim most are subject to systematic biases.

Tests such as the Pepsi Challenge were what are called in the industry "sip tests," meaning that drinkers were given small samples (less than a can or bottle's worth) to try out. Gladwell contends that what people say they like in these tests may not reflect what they will actually buy to sit at home and drink over a week or so.[54] Carol Dollard, who once worked in new product development for Pepsi, told Gladwell, "I've seen many times where the sip test will give you one result and the home-use test will give you the exact opposite."[55] For example, although many consumers react positively to the sweeter taste of Pepsi when drinking it in small volumes, it may become unattractively sickly when drunk in quantity. Coke, on the other hand, may be more attractive for drinking in volume, precisely because it is less sweet. A more comprehensive testing regime could possibly have revealed this, Gladwell's sources believe.[54]

blake said...

But Roger if that's true--and pardon me while I pause for a moment and bask in the glory of a discussion in which we can raise different issues and understanding without degrading to calling each other liars--why would it be true for Coke and not Pepsi?

I don't recall New Coke being sweeter than Pepsi. It was very similar. It was perhaps too smooth. And then there's this, from Snopes:

"Long before they'd tasted a sip of it, millions of Americans had decided they hated New Coke. Yes, in blind taste tests people had consistently said they liked the new formula better. However, a soft drink is so much more than merely its flavor; a soda is also its marketing. Coke had spent more than a hundred years convincing the North American population that its product was an integral part of their lives, their very identities. Taste be damned: to do away with Coca-Cola was to rip something vital from the American soul. Americans (never ones to peaceably go along with anything perceived as violating their identity) weren't going to stand for it, and they weren't shy about saying so."

Now, I can believe what you say, because I'm the sort of PITA who not only can taste the difference between similar sodas, but will skip having a Pepsi if I feel like a Coke, and vice-versa, and can spot a cane sugar vs. corn syrup formulation--but I'm not sure that taste is the key element in most people's choices.

Look at how much energy Coke devoted to being #1. It didn't matter if the various Cokes added up to more sales, they were worried about Pepsi claiming to be #1.

Maybe because that was leverage in the soda fountain market, dunno. But it seems like the simplicity of "better taste = more sales" doesn't entirely hold true.

Naveen said...

CBSE Sample papers blog sitemeter sucks

Roger Sweeny said...


I think both things were going on: 1) many people liked new Coke in small doses but didn't like it as a long-term steady thing, and 2) new Coke seemed like a loss of something valuable, not a gain of something better.

The really interesting question is why people came to perceive it as a loss rather than a gain. And why it took a while for the "loss" reaction to overshadow the "gain" reaction (Coke's sales had originally gone up).

Perhaps part of the reason was the spirit of the times (it was "morning in America," the middle of the Reagan years). But I'm pretty sure part of it was simple and mundane. For many steady Coke drinkers, new Coke just didn't wear well; after a while, they didn't like the new taste as well as the old.

blake said...


I do think that's borne out by the sales numbers. They did sell more Coke + New Coke than just Coke alone. I wasn't able to figure out whether you can actually buy New Coke (now "Coke II")--well, whether they actually made it, really.

Roger Sweeny said...


For what it's worth, the wikipedia "New Coke" article says,

In 1985 [2 years after its introduction], New Coke was sold only in Canada, the United States, and United States territories, while the original formula continued to be sold in the rest of the world (had the new version been a success it would presumably have been introduced worldwide). New Coke was eventually returned to the company's product portfolio; it was test-marketed in certain U.S. cities under the name Coke II in 1990 and officially renamed Coke II in 1992. So, having determined not to make it a second brand, the company ultimately did exactly that.

However, Coca-Cola did little to promote or otherwise distinguish it. In a market already offering far more choice of drinks calling themselves "Coke" in some fashion or another, the public saw little reason to embrace a product they had firmly rejected seven years earlier, and within about a year, Coke II was largely off the American shelves again. By 1998, it could only be found in some scattered Midwestern markets, and sometime in 2002, New Coke was discontinued entirely. On August 16 of that year, Coke announced a change of the label in which the word "Classic" was no longer so prominent, leading to speculation that it would eventually be removed and the last legacy of New Coke eliminated from the company's packaging.[52] The production of Coke II is, however, still theoretically possible; comparatively few brands have been cancelled by Coca-Cola outright, and the decision is usually left to semi-independent bottling companies to decide what they will bottle.

It has found acceptance in some foreign markets. As of 2006, it was still selling in Yap (one of the four Federated States of Micronesia), along with Coca-Cola C2. It is also still very popular in the U.S. Territory American Samoa, where it is still sold in most Coke vending machines.

Roger Sweeny said...

Oops. 1985 was the year of new Coke's introduction.