Like most people with one of these web loggy things, it’s nice to see statistics. You know the sort of thing: how many visits you’re getting; which items are getting repeat viewings and are more popular. That sort of thing. Sure, my host offers me a couple of options but they tend to be transitory and over-complicated.
As Yellow Swordfish is built on WordPress there are also a number of respectable plugins that will also do the job – usually from within the admin pages themselves. And I have tried several.
The first I tried was StatTraq which is very comprehensive and well presented but appeared to falter after one of the WP updates and then started to fail. Next I gave BAStats a try. This was my favourite actually but has never appeared to move out of beta and is, to be frank, somewhat buggy and is now, I fear, basically unsupported. And this I dumped after I started to see some very spurious data creeping in with no help in sight to get it sorted. The next to come under trial was WP-ShortStat which again is extremely well presented except that I disliked it! As simple as that! I particularly didn’t like the baggage of all the extra CSS that was getting loaded throughout my admin pages and before long I cast it aside and basically gave up on the whole idea.
But then along came a relative newcomer to the scene – FireStats – written by Omry Yadin. Omry has done a great job and FireStats delivers what you want efficiently and quickly. It fits well into the WP admin interface and he has made great use of AJAX routines to ensure that updates and changes are quick and smooth. But what I particularly like about FireStats is that Omry is very quick to respond to queries and to offer advice and take on board suggestions. And that is something many plugin authors don’t seem to want to do.
FireStats is still, at the time of writing, in beta. Yes there are one or two small bugs and anomalies but unlike some of the above, I have confidence that they will be sorted. And it seems Omry has some great plans to extend his software further. The one negative I have applies to all the statistics plugins I have tried and seen and that’s the lack of a way to stop the stored data tables becoming too huge to cope with. The more successful your site and the more visitors you have then the bigger this data storage will be and all packages need a way of periodically archiving data into ‘totals’ to keep the tables slimmer and more manageable. Omry assures me that this is on the ‘to do’ list for the near future.
I am using it now and am more than happy to wait for better things to come along as FireStats gets developed. And it has been something of a pleasure to be actually able to discuss the plugin with the author who has shown great patience helping me track down the odd problem or two. I wish Omry and FireStats the best of luck and look forward to future revisions. Maybe this time I have found one I can stick with.