(Re)introducing Replay

Real time is pretty great, right? It can be a complex tool that helps inform future action or it can be a simple, visceral thing that just feels totally awesome (and watching a page flood with traffic is totally awesome.)

Screen Shot 2013-01-08 at 1.57.26 PM

But the issue with real time is that you’re not always on in real time. I mean, really, at some point you’ve got to set aside the stats and go to sleep. And when something happens when you’re not around – from your site going crazy in the middle of the night to  a subtle shift in your traffic when you’re out to lunch – you might miss it entirely. But that stuff is just too important (or too fun) to not see outside the moment.

So we’ve built a way for you to re-watch your past week as if it’s live. Think of it as a a DVR for you site.

To check it out on your page head to the Content View and click the “Today/7 Day” toggle in the upper right. The graph on top will break free from its old 24-hour confines and show you everything that’s happened over the past week.

Now that you’ve got that look, go ahead and drag your cursor over the graph – yup, that’s your traffic at that exact moment and the traffic from the previous week, making it super easy to know if your in the middle of something unusual or its just a normal variation. “Context,” it’s totally the best, right?

hover

But okay, ready? The cool stuff is about to really start.

Try this – instead of hovering on that graph, go ahead and click and drag your cursor 0ver a range you want to watch again. We’ll kick you into our “replay” mode and actually show you what your dashboard looked like at that moment in time. That way you can get the kids out of bed, hook up the big screen, and watch how your pages changed, who was sending them traffic, and what specific pages were doing what. Even better you can pause at any time to take a closer look and step through that old data slice-by-slice.

replaying

So that’s it! No more wondering exactly what happened while you were away. You can sleep the night away in peace, take an even longer lunch; you deserve it. All you’ve got to do is click a button and you can find out everything you missed.

Our next big thing starts now: Chartbeat iOS App 2.0 (v1)

UPDATE: 12.5.2012

Two months later and we’re back. Thanks to everyone who wrote in, tweeted, or just downloaded the app. It’s been great to hear your thoughts and today we’re pushing out our first round of changes based on them.

While we heard really nice things about the app the first time through (thanks!) we found out pretty quickly that something was missing: context. Doing unusually well was cool but you needed something more, you needed to know why and what caused it… well we heard you and we got you. So meet the notable changes of this little release: a historical traffic chart and acceleration markers.

Swipe the dial to the left to see how your site has performed over the day compared to the previous week and get a feel for how big your spike really is. But a look back isn’t enough – you need to see the rush as it’s happening so we’ve got acceleration markers in there to show you which pages (or sites if you’ve got a couple of those) are growing and how quickly that’s happening. The more arrows up you see the faster that page is shooting up. If you see a bunch of arrows pointing up hold on – it’s about to get great.

So that’s it for now. A little release full of fixes and some stuff to let you know if what’s happening is special or just one of those weird internet blips. Keep the ideas coming and we’ll do the rest. More soon.

Original Post

So let’s get the most important thing out of the way first: the new Charbeat iOS App is available for all Chartbeat and Chartbeat Publishing users and you can download it here.

Second most important thing? Hold steady Android and Windows phone users. We’ll be getting stuff your way soon too.

Okay? We’re good? Awesome. Let’s do this then.

This April we relaunched Chartbeat and changed way more than the look – we changed what Chartbeat could do. We moved past just counting people on the page and asking you to fill in the rest and focused on making it super easy for you to take action with that info.

Sadly our iPhone app lagged behind and that had to change.

But after talking to a bunch of you guys, it turned out you’re not using your iPhones as “mobile command centers” with all the manipulation and consideration you did with the desktop dashboard. When you were on the go, you just wanted to get the pulse of your site. To know if everything was normal or – if it wasn’t – why and what to do about it. And that’s what our new app is about. Only the stuff you need and as quickly as possible.

So download it, log into your Chartbeat account, and you’ll see everything you need to know about your site all on one screen.

Scroll across your top traffic sources to see where people are coming from and scroll down to see where they’re all going.

Even better you can click on any of those things and we’ll give you all the deeper information you want.

Only the most essential information up front so you always know what’s going on.

And to that end we’re introducing the first of our big mobile changes: the traffic benchmark.



Your dial now has a gray band on it – this is your usual range of traffic for the current time and day. If you’re below that something is probably not going as planned and you should take a look to see what you can change. But if you’re above, congratulations! Something cool is going down. You shouldn’t have to know your exact traffic for Saturdays at 9pm…that’s our job. Yours is to focus on what’s next.

A little (totally public) secret for you: this is just the start; we’ve got so much more coming.

With this first version we wanted to give you a really great mobile dashboard experience. Now that that’s done we get to do the fun part – we get to create totally new things. Push notifications, configurable alerts, new kinds of data… there’s a whole bunch of stuff on its way and we can’t wait to show it to you. We’re pretty psyched on our plans but we absolutely want to hear yours too. So that what we make is the stuff you truly want. So please. Please, please, please reach out and tell us what would make this app the one of your real-time dreams.

Now go, go, go download the app and – seriously – let us know what you think. You can email me thoughts or get in touch with our awesome Chartcorps to learn how use this thing better. There’s a ton of really cool stuff to be done so let’s do it together.

Introducing: Highlight

We like to think of ourselves as internet super geniuses and pretend that all of our ideas come out of our heads fully formed and fully great. But – truth is – some of our best ideas come from the stuff we see you guys doing.

Sometimes we see what you’re doing and carefully weigh and combine it with our usecases and research to release incremental improvements to our dashboards (yeah. It’s as entirely boring as it sounds.)

But sometimes we see you doing ridiculously awesome stuff and we just sort of steal it because it’s so cool and that’s all that matters.

So welcome to our newest thing – Chartbeat Highlight – by us, but mostly from you.

For years we’ve been running into images of your dashboards everywhere. Whether it’s screenshots on Twitter, Instagram pics, or Facebook uploads when you guys are having great traffic days or dinosaur-shaped spikes….

(Photo credit: http://twitter.com/roboppy/status/70947457894326272)

….you’re making sure the world knows they’re happening.

And you should. Because all of these moments – from the Jurassic to the practical – are celebratory events that you worked stupid hard to earn (or, you know, you just happen to be in the right place at the right time and you got crazy traffic… because the web can be totally weird like that) and you should shout it out.

So we built Chartbeat Highlight to make it super easy for you to share that joy with everyone

The next time something really great happens on your site just click the share button on your nav bar and we’ll get you going.

We’ll kick you over to the Highlight screen, and show you a live preview of what you’ll be putting out there. Specifically we’ll show your current traffic, your total engaged time for the day, and a general trend line: all the fist-pumping information you could want.

Then let us know long you want this thing out there. You can set your Highlight to expire whenever you want – keep it out there for a bunch of hours or cut it off after one.

After that’s all set up you’ll get a link (with an adorable chart.bt shortener) that you can email on to Mom, share with your legions of Facebook fans, or – if you’ve connected your Twitter account to Chartbeat (and if you haven’t do it now. We’ll wait…), you can write a quick message and tweet it out right from your dash.

It goes without saying, but to be crazy crazy clear – unless you explicitly go through this process we won’t share a Highlight on your behalf. Your data is as safe as it’s always been. Similarly right now only admins can share Highlights – so if you’re not already one bug the person who set up your account to get it out there.

So go share your Highlights with everyone and get yourself internet famous.

Updates to Your Content View

We spend a lot of time releasing totally new stuff over here. New interfaces, new visualizations, new sources of data. Those are the big ones that capture our imagination.

But the truth is: big ideas are only as good as their execution, and once we get them out in the world we need to reshape them based on what people think and how they actually use them.  That’s how we go turn cool ideas into useful products.

So in that spirit we took a step back and asked people what they thought of our Content View. What did they like? What didn’t they? How could we make it more awesome? And after talking to a bunch of you we, honestly, found a couple of places where we fell down the first time through.

Users thought the Content View didn’t have enough information about who exactly was making up those concurrent visitors, some said it was too hard to quickly understand what content was the biggest, and a couple even said  the page was generally hard to use on small screens. So after considering a comprehensive smear campaign on everyone who didn’t think we nailed it from day one we decided it might be easier to just see if we could make some changes. So with all of that feedback in mind: check out the changes to our Content View.

“I can’t tell where those visitors are coming from.”

When we first launched the new Chartbeat we thought we’d give users one view for your traffic and one for biggest pages, so you could dig really deeply into both. While that was great for deep consideration, it didn’t help you understand what was going on right now super quickly. And fast is kind of our thing.

So this time around, we’ve brought your most important traffic source information right into your content view.

But we know it’s about more than just seeing that they’re coming to the site – it’s knowing what page your visitors are going to. Now you can hover on any traffic source and we’ll show you exactly that. See if your Facebook traffic is going to the page you expect it to or somewhere completely different. Even better – in case you want to know exactly how other websites are talking about you – just click on any of those referring sites and we’ll show you exactly page on that site they’re coming from.

“It’s hard to quickly see which pages are the biggest.”

We wanted the Content view to have an always-changing set of boxes that quickly show which pages were biggest. While this approach looked awesome we heard that it was hard to look at a monitor from across the room and understand how stories were performing in comparison to each other. Totally fair.

So now, in addition to being sorted left-to-right, all the boxes in a row are the same size and the number of concurrent visitors is in big bold text in the upper left. No more mousing around and counting. Just quick insights right away.

And, if you do want to mouse around the page, just hover over the cards. They’ll all pause in their current position so you can scroll around and see what’s up.

“I can’t see enough on my small screen.”

We’ve got big monitors over here and our data tell us most of you have big monitors, too… so sometimes it’s easier to forget about that (exactly) 4.74% of you on screens smaller than our minimum size. But just because you’re not a big group doesn’t mean we ignore your problems. For you, small-screen samurais, we’ve made things more responsive.

Now that big top bar scales down, so on small screens that bar won’t take up most of your screen, it’ll be proportionally the same size as our (even tinier percentage of) users looking at this thing on crazy huge monitors.

That about wraps it up for the Content View Updates. A bunch of changes that aren’t reinventing the way you think about pages and traffic. But a bunch of changes that, hopefully, show you stuff about those things way faster.

I hope it helps, I hope you love it all, and – if you don’t – get at me. There’s so much more of this to come (and some really cool, totally new things just a couple days away, too), and we always want to hear your voice – it’s what makes sure we keep rollin’ out stuff like this on the regular.

Introducing: New Social View

For a lot of people, traffic from social networks can be seen as this big unknown cannon of people who can’t be totally controlled or understood.

Sure, tweets drive a bunch of traffic, but it can be ridiculously hard to understand which 140-character thought has people banging on your door, and which was ignored. Trying to understand how people feel about you while streams of text about your site, the topics you care about, and #yolo rush by is an impossible challenge.

And that’s always bugged us because social is so crazy important.

When something goes viral on a social network your whole audience changes. It’s no longer just your loyal fans – now you’ve got to think about people who’ve never heard of you before or, at best, people who don’t know much about you. Getting those people to your site and making sure they know you’re out there is the difference between a good single day of traffic and a ton of new loyal fans.

Chartbeat is all about making it absurdly easy to see the important stuff that is happening right now and opening the door to actions that push the dial to its limit. No better place to do that than on social networks.

So today we’re launching the reimagined Chartbeat social view. And it’s way more than just a new set of graphs.

Our Social View is here to answer two key questions:

  1. Is social driving traffic to my page?
  2. Is there a conversation about me that I should be a part of?

Together, they capture who you are on the social web and give you a chance to control that rush of people to point them toward the things you want them to see.

The most obvious addition to the view is the stream on the right.

Once you link up your Twitter handle, we start tracking everyone who mentions you, and because we’re already on your page, we also track every link to your site. It’s not enough to just know when people are speaking directly to you, calling for your attention – you’ve also got to know when they’re talking about you and don’t care if you see it. By knowing when people are linking to you (even if they’re not mentioning you by name), you can really understand how people see you.

But monitoring alone is no good if you can’t act.

Which is why if you hover on any tweet you can now reply, retweet, or favorite.

Right from your dashboard, you can understand what the conversation around your site looks like and jump in when you need to. Throw favorites or retweets to your fans, and be there to transform people with questions into loyal fans.

Just as monitoring alone isn’t enough, action doesn’t mean much if you can’t see if it’s actually driving people to your page. We’re on that one, too.

In the top graph, we’re now showing both tweets from your account and every mention, retweet, and link.

The more people talking about you the higher those Twitter blue circles will shoot up. It’s no use talking if no one is listening, so we’ll always be there to tell you if you’re sending the right kind of messages.

Having people talk about you is good – having them visit your webpage where you control the content you want them to is even better, so now we’re showing those conversations alongside your site’s social traffic.

Those rushes of activity should be sending people to your page, and if they’re not, we want you to know right away. If you’re the topic of conversation you should know and you should be able to drive those people to your website.

So get social.

Head into your dashboard, link your Twitter and Facebook accounts, and let’s see how much more you can do with your social data and social traffic now.

As always, this is just the start. We’re going to be adding more networks, more data, and more ways to help you kill it out there.

If you’ve got any questions don’t hesitate to email us or sign up for our weekly Chartcorps workshops to get the inside scoop on how you can use each of our features and real-time data in general to act.

Designing Data – Part 3: Look at the Data

We’re asked about our design all the time – usually in an incredibly kind way full of high fives and “how’d you do that?!”s but sometimes in a “ugh, did you even think about talking to a customer??” kind of way. So, we decided to give you a week-long deep dive into our design process in this “Designing Data” series. Yesterday we identified problems through user research, and today we’ll look at the data to validate our thinking.

We’ve identified the problem. Next step is to start sketching or to open up Photoshop and start throwing pixels on the screen, right? Nope. Negative. Wrong.

We always look at the data before even thinking about design.

We’re a company that eats, sleeps, and dreams information and insight, and we design from what we have — not what we wish we had.

It’s so easy to spend days pushing pixels in Photoshop making the perfect design for the perfect scenario, but it’s all meaningless if the result doesn’t carry over to reality. Great mockups are easy. Designs that work well with real data of all kinds are hard. Some days, really hard.

When we were designing the Overview on the Chartbeat dashboard, we took each question people were trying to answer and made sure the data we were tracking matched up against those questions to provide real, unique value.

We questioned and vetted every decision as to whether or not to put each data point on the Overview, a secondary page, or not include it at all. We looked at client after client, page after page after page trying to find places where our data fell down.

  • People wanted to know where traffic was coming from. But did that mean dropping a list of each referring site was be enough?
  • How did the dashboard look if your site had very low traffic, like 0-10 concurrents?
  • What if it had a ton, like 500,000+?
  • What if everyone was coming from search? Or social?
  • What if you got a flood of traffic all at once? Would the visualization work? Would it tell you that something special was happening?

To some people it can seem like overkill. But when you’re working with data, you can’t make assumptions and expect the design to match every possible form of data across thousands of sites.

Otherwise, it’s a ridiculous waste of time. Which is why we’ve gotten into the habit of  ending meetings the second someone says “Well, if the data says ____” by responding with “Let’s go look at it.” And all gather around my screen, or Isaac’s (our chief data scientist’s), or Matt’s (our UI designer).

We tear apart every single concept that makes it to this second stage in the process. When they survive this grueling data-review round, the fun part begins: Designing and prototyping – which we’ll dive into tomorrow.

Designing Data – Part 2: User Research

We’re asked about our design all the time – usually in an incredibly kind way full of high fives and “how’d you do that?!”s but sometimes in a “ugh, did you even think about talking to a customer??” kind of way. So, we decided to give you a week-long deep dive into our design process in this “Designing Data” series. Yesterday we covered the right mindset, today’s all about user research. Check in tomorrow for the looking at the data portion of our design process.


We don’t make a single move without making sure it will solve a real problem for real users.

Whether they’re sitting here at the Chartbase telling us what makes their jobs hard, on a screen-share showing us how they use the dashboard , or through behavioral data from our APIs — everything we do comes from real people and their real usage. Not best case, hypothetical personas who might one day open up our dashboard.

That’s why we’re so serious when we talk about learning from our users. They are as much partners as they are anything else and we just couldn’t deliver without them.

The biggest thing we’ve learned is to always be listening (ABL, if you will). And really listening. Not just hearing what they say and delivering that exact feature. But truly understanding what will make them better than they every thought possible. We can’t build anything until we really get that.

But understanding and solving are very different things. Don’t try to solve everything or even anything right off the bat.

In our early user research, we’re just trying to figure out the common problems people bump into.

We don’t ask “what don’t you like about our dashboard?” we ask “what makes you come to Chartbeat? Why do you want to see data at all?” The former results in feature requests while the latter uncovers the things that make life harder — and we’re way more interested in those.

Until we know why people turn to us we can’t solve their problems, we can’t make something that will make them better.

For example, in talking to people about our recent Chartbeat dashboard redesign we realized that, at the highest level, people had three questions they turned to Chartbeat for:

  • How many people are on my site?
  • What are they looking at?
  • Where are they coming from?

In short, they needed the pulse of their site.

So, naturally, we decided to build something that delivered just that.

Where next, you ask? Well, looking at the data of course! We’ll get there in tomorrow’s edition.