GA4 / UA Deprecation Date - Our Opinion
GA4 is better than Universal analytics... at measuring website/app performance. The event based model is seriously cool and having 50 data slots per event (instead of the current 3) is awesome! The new tools like explorer are really neat.
(side note: The whole thing has an Adobe Analytics vibe in some ways, arguable if thats a good thing though)
GA4 on the left v Adobe Analytics... look similar?
The problem with GA4 is it is too complex for most users/use cases. It really makes you reflect on how well GA3/UA or whatever you call it was originally designed.
Take a look below at basically the same report in GA4 v UA.
Same website: GA4 on the left v UA on the right
- Why have the spaghetti western in the top left graph? Does this add anything that useful above making it way harder to interpret? What you really want to know is the total, not the breakdown as default.
- Wheres the option to quickly change from users to another metric like sessions or bounce rate?
- Yes there is a tiny pencil option up top right to modify the graphs and even change metrics - but you cant change the date breakdown type - so you are stuck with days - you cant view weekly or monthly!
- Yes you can modify the entire report and add in everything you like - but the big blue save button up the top is kind of a kiss of death option. If I hit that - have I "stuffed up the original report forever"? Can I go back to it? Why do I have to set all this stuff up in the first place - I just want to see sessions week over week...???
- The grey block area between the graph section and the table section in GA3 is so much clearer. Numbers below, graph above, totals only. Simple. GA4 is a white palette of stuff stuck to it with no borders. When does one graph end and the other start? Are the sections connected?
There are many more technical and related issues, but the above is more than enough to highlight the issues.
The Main Takeouts
The design of GA4 is not user friendly. Well... at least not compared to GA3. And thats the big issue - why change from GA3 when it is easier to use and does everything you need?
Well that option is now gone. Everybody has to go to GA4 by July 2023.
That gives everyone 15 odd months to get their ship in order.
A positive side affect will be a renewed focus from companies on their website tracking. As a result we'll see new innovative reports, new insights, a better understanding of website performance and better actions taken as a result. Thats a good thing.
The set up burden will be high though. In order to get to those new insights a lot of setup will need to be done. Even a mediocre setup will need a few hours of setup.
From there people will have to learn how to use the system. Thats a big burden - who has time for this?
Dont get me wrong, we love GA4 at tribalism - but thats as an analytics tool. As something to replace what GA3 does ie a robust easy to use tool, where you can gain detailed insights extremely quickly and quickly dive between well thoughtout and already deployed reports... its not even close.
Interesting times for the analytics industry - we may even see the (previously ludicrous) situation of people moving wholesale off GA. Who wants their measurement stack being from the same people selling you the stuff anyway..???