Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Google Analytics and Sparklines

I was interested to see that the last re-launch of Google Analytics (the tool that lets you see all the activity on your website) included Sparklines.

For those of you not fascinated by visual analysis tools, this is probably not a huge revelation. But for someone (like myself) who suffers from actually caring about how we display information, it's a bit of a (pleasant) surprise.

Sparklines were invented by Edward Tufte. They are small, high resolution graphics placed before text to describe a trend. One of those really simple and highly useful-once-implemented tools.

This is what it looks like in the Google Analytics tool (yes, that is the pitiful number of people who read this blog, aren't you thankful that you're not following the masses? :).

Over time, the line's history will fill in with information and you will be able to see the trends for each measure. Before Google Analytics, I had never used a data visualization tool that used Sparklines. Good to see some of Tufte's work being used.

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