Google Analytics may not be the most famous or the most glamorous Google product, but it's one of the most useful and one of the things the web depends on to work. This explains perhaps the attention Google pays to it - it's been rolling out a new interface for more than a year now and, just as things were about to settle, it revealed a subtle but pretty substantial design update.
"We've been listening to your feedback about the new version of Google Analytics, and are excited to release an updated user interface featuring enhancements to nearly all aspects of the design of Google Analytics," Google announced and it wasn't kidding when it said "nearly all aspects of the design."
From things like changing the color palette, bringing out the elements that matter, to new thumbnail icons, there are plenty of new things.
"The primary goal of this update is to bring more attention to the things that matter -- your data, and how you analyze it. We improved legibility of score card and table data, and refined our color palette to draw attention toward data instead of navigation elements," Google explained.
Google lists some of the main changes to the interface. On top of the list is a new information hierarchy, an improvement over the old one, Google believes.
Also new is the ability to change the "graphed" metric as well as the "select a comparison" metric straight from the graph, making it faster to get a new set of data. At the same time, Graph and Table options are easier to spot.
Other smaller changes are improved metric group selection and icons for the left sidebar menu items.
With the design changes, Analytics also introduced a very important feature, data sampling. This is done any time the amount of data to be analyzed is too great to be done it in a reasonable manner.
A portion of the data is picked, "sampled" and then that is analyzed. This may not mean much to sites with reasonably small visitor numbers, but for those with millions of visits, sampling can be a heaven sent.