Piwik Redesigned: Open Source Web Analytics Software Gets a Fresh Look

Piwik is leading the way when it comes to open source web analytics software. More than 1,000,000 websites are using Piwik for analytics, according to the current Builtwith assessment. The team has just launched its 2.0 release with a brand new website and redesigned mobile app. This release is the culmination of seven months of work from the Piwik team and community.

piwik_app

Haven’t heard of Piwik? That’s probably due to the fact that Google Analytics thoroughly dominates this space. But there’s something exceptional that sets Piwik apart from Google Analytics. Piwik is free and open source, affording you privacy and full control over your data. Piwik takes about five minutes to install on your server. You can track multiple websites and keep all your data in the same place on your own server, away from prying eyes.

Piwik: An Open Source Alternative to Google Analytics

The Piwik dashboard has everything you’d expect from a comprehensive web analytics platform, including recent visits, keyword information, visitor location map, browser information, referrer information, and real-time visitor stats, and more available via widgets.

I had the chance to chat with Piwik founder and lead developer Matthieu Aubry. Given that Google Analytics is considered the default choice for the vast majority of websites, I asked him what is the number one reason people choose Piwik over its more popular competitor. He replied, “There are many reasons but I think the number one reason for many choosing Piwik over Google Analytics is privacy and keeping control over sensitive user data. This is becoming all too important. Another good reason may be that people like the simplicity of the UI and the openness of the platform.”

Part of that openness is that developers are encouraged to extend the platform using the Piwik APIs and many are already doing some creative things. “There are several businesses using the API to provide web analytics to many of their customers’ websites automatically (by creating website users and scheduled reports using the API),” Aubry said. “Others use the API to request data and display it elsewhere. The tracking API is also used to implement custom app usage tracking within Mobile apps. Finally, what we hope to help developers build 3rd party plugins similar to WordPress or other popular open source frameworks. This will be our chance to bring a lot of innovation in analytics!”

How to Use Piwik With WordPress

Piwik is licensed under the GPL, just like WordPress. The WP-Piwik plugin integrates Piwik into your WordPress site, adds the tracking code and displays a summary of stats in your admin panel.

piwik_wp

Instructions for setting up WP-Piwik can be found on the WordPress Integration page and the the plugin is available in the WordPress repository.

What’s New in Piwik 2.0?

In addition to the new website, Piwik users will enjoy a host of new features with this 2.0 release:

  • Launch of the Piwik marketplace for plugins and themes
  • Browse and install plugins and themes directly from within Piwik
  • New completely redesigned mobile app, allowing users to monitor web traffic on the go
  • Piwik 2.0 has now been translated by volunteers into 53 different languages

The team has also launched a new Piwik Pro service that will offer professional analytics services for businesses, NGOs and governments, as well as cloud hosting and enterprise deployments. The service also includes custom integrations and support.

If you’re curious about Piwik but would rather try it before installing on your own server, check out the live demo. Piwik is not just for web analytics – you can also use it to track e-commerce, server logs and intranet analytics.

Many website owners are willing to trade privacy for the convenience of Google Analytics. But if you’re serious about owning your own data and protecting sensitive information, it’s nice to know that there are open source options like Piwik that can provide the same comprehensive level of analytics.

16 Comments


  1. Looks good but I’ve got GA code on all my sites.
    Don’t think I have anything that I want to keep secret so I’ll probably stay with GA.

    Thanks for the heads up Sarah and congrats on the new site layout – nice and bright.

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    1. I do agree with you Keith, most of the sites do not have any reason to hide their analytics data from Google.

      The ones that do want to do this in my experience are usually some spammy sites built only to improve “mother site” ranking.

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      1. Jesus Christ, that mentality of people oblivious to stuff happening around them. It’s not “bad things” you’d hide from Google, but the private data of your customers/visitors.

        Why do you think GA is free? They are interested in your visitors data, which is your payment for their service. They use that data to serve even more personalized ads to even more people based on that spying network you’re a part of. If you’re fine with that, cool, but not everyone wants Facebooks, Twitters and Googles know every little thing about them.

        How much a corporate brainwash can accomplish.

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      2. Keith and Greg are way off on this one. The economic and privacy implications of having GA on your site is a huge detriment to your site. Significant economic loss happens when you give all your data away (For example, if you were bidding on an auction, would it make sense to tell who you are bidding against how much you are willing to pay?). And the privacy problems are horrible, one company having a complete trail of where you go on the net and what you do, and then they can tie that in by reading your gmails. The golden rule of data…

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  2. I’m assuming I’m not the only one reading this that had no idea Piwik existed. I’ve been so trained to use GA for years. Thanks Sarah.

    For anyone else out there who’s curious, it’s really easy to setup. They recommend creating your own database, but I just installed it on my existing WP database (WP Engine as a host). And I used the WP-Piwik plugin to add the tracking code.

    Appears to be running well, but will give it some time to check on data. I would recommend a separate database because it adds 20 tables to the DB.

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    1. I’d never heard of it either but from the demo it looks really good, definitely one to have a closer look at in the New Year, thanks Sarah :-)

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    2. It’s a good idea to use Piwik- not only to protect your data, but mostly to protect personal information about your users. If you don’t want to set up it on your own you can also use a Cloud version from Piwik PRO. Thanks for a post Sarah.

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  3. I’m using Piwik on my site and I’m pretty happy with it. For some reason GA refused to work, so I was kinda forced to try it, but hell, I’m sticking with it cause it’s quite powerfull and easy to use.

    People should at least give it a try IMHO, nothing to lose, but you could gain a lot.

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  4. Hi Guys,

    I’m getting fed up with Google analytics, moreso as my new blog is growing seriously in traffic.

    What is the cost of using this program from Piwik?

    Thank you

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    1. It’s good that more and more people are aware of problems with Google Analytics and that they want to take care of privacy of their clients.

      Piwik is a free web analytics which you can install on your own on your server.

      If you want to use a Piwik Cloud option, the prices start from 49 EURO/ 65 USD.

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  5. I first started using Piwik a few years ago when I realized that all our analytics was tied to my Google account, and I didn’t want to share that info with my employer. Adding Piwik to the mix meant faster loading since it was hosted on my servers, and passing the data off to the next developer wasn’t a problem since the organization owned it all themselves.

    I’d recommend using Piwik for sites that you’re building for a client so when you hand them the keys they have all the data in place already and there’s no need to create new Google accounts just to share the data.

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  6. I tried to use Piwik for about 8 months two years ago, on both a custom server setup, and on a recommended hosting setup at Arvixe, and there was just too much data for it to handle just one of my big media sites unless I purged everything every 2 weeks, which entirely defeated the purpose of having the historical visitor data that I wanted.

    I spent weeks importing several hundred gig of raw http logs for it to crunch the data, so I could compare the numbers in Piwik to what GA was showing me, and while I loved the potential in it, I was unable to keep using it… the hosting company kept dinging me for database and resource usage, and their asynchronous tracking was actually slowing down my website’s response time.

    I hated doing it, but I gave up and removed it and imploded the Piwik setup, canceled my account at Arvixe, and have since gone back to just GA. It was a fun test, I just wish I could have duplicated what other people said, that they were able to track sites with tens of thousands of visitors per day with no problem. I wasn’t able to.

    If they’ve fixed the resource gobbling issues it might be worth playing around with again, but it won’t be very high on my to-do list at the moment :)

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  7. Never heard about Piwik but the way it demonstrates, indeed, it is really easy to set up. GA must speed up.

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  8. I also read about the fact that Piwik is resource intensive… it would be interesting to hear some comments regarding this issue from Piwik authors ;)

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    1. Piwik does work under high load, to a certain point, depending on your hardware, server configurations, and various other things.

      We are running it with customers with a LOT of data (+50M pages per month). There are challenges and several tweaks we make so it works well under such high load… If you have a big website (or thousands of small-medium ones), maybe get in touch at http://piwik.pro/contact for professional support, we can fully setup & monitor Piwik on your infrastructure, or run it on the Piwik PRO Cloud (hosted in Europe/Germany).

      If you have 1 million pageviews per month or less, then it should work out of the box, on a good server, without special configuration.

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  9. Piwik is just what we need. I am starting a new service using this outstanding analytic software. I am calling it Gonalytics. SEO expert who tested it will tell you that adding GA or Webmaster tools from the big G see a fall in the search result position rank of the website in question.
    The access of all tracking and other data about your site to the same monopoly driven giant is not good either as it gives them too much opportunities to manipulate the rest of us.

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