I am not going to discuss about whether logging visitors is a good or a bad practice, I am going to assume that this has already been analyzed and decided, and that the final decision is that logging visitors and statics is needed.
With that defined, now comes the question, which logging solution should be used.
The alternatives comes in two main groups
Server logs analyzers
If the site is served from just one server, or if the spread logs can be joined, then those logs can be parsed and analyzed by a specialized software that will show the results in a fancy and readable format. The options are:
All those three are open source, and easy to use, the main advantage is that privacy of the visitor is respected, and no info is going out the website’s server.
Online analytics software
The second main set of alternatives are online analytics tools, there are a lot of them, here will be listed the most common ones.
Except the first one, all others provide an option to log with no cookies, so, they are cookie GDPR compliant. I really recommend you to stay away from Google Analytics and use any of the other options here listed.
Plausible is a relatively new service created by Uku and Marko, the service was created first on Uku’s free time at the end of 2018, looking for a tool that can offer 80% of Google Analytics benefits with only 20% of the complexity.
The result was Plausible
As stated above plausible aims at being simple, avoid complexity and be a lightweight alternative to Google Analytics, therefore it is not as feature rich as Google Analytics, but most of GA features are never used anyway, or are inaccurate and thus unusable.
At the top of its page there is an indicator showing the number of current visitors, this is one of the best features, because it can be used by system administrators to check if the number of online visitors could be related with some service degradation, or the extra load on server resources.
The date range can be selected from the menu at the right top of the screen
The menu offers different pre-sets as seen above, and a custom range from where any range can be selected.
The screen is divided in quadrants with different information for the users, the first one is top-referrers
At first glance the top nine can be seen, and clicking on more it shows the complete list of referrers, this information is presented for the date rage selected above.
At the right of Top Referrer is located Top Pages, and it shows the most visited pages in the selected date range, once again if more is clicked the complete list is shown in the screen.
Still in the dashboard, and below Top Referrers, the information of countries from where the visitors to the site are coming is located. The world map is shown, and using color coding the countries that send more visitors are easily identifiable, and if the more button is clicked a complete list of the countries with the percentage of visitors is shown on the screen, but if the mouse pointer is hovered over the map the number of visitors that came to the site in the selected date range is shown.
Finally, the last quadrant of the dashboard shows different information about devices.
- Size: Shows the size of the screen, it actually says if the visitor came from a Desktop, laptop, tablet or phone
- Browser: This one shows the browser the visitors were using, and the percentage of users with different browsers
- OS: Finally, this one shows the percentage of visitors using the different Operating Systems when landing on the website.
Pricing is simple, given the number of visitors to the websites, there is an associated price
|Visitors per month||Price $us|
There is no extra charge for more sites, any number of sites can be logged, and they only charge for the accumulated number of visitors.
Once subscribed to a plan, they do not charge extra if the number of visitors of the selected package is surpassed, nor the visits stop being logged. But if for two months in a row the limit is surpassed, a higher packages should be selected or the account should be canceled.
There is a discount on any package if yearly is payment is selected.
Plausible takes privacy seriously, no cookies are used to track visitors, their visits are logged when they land on the website and some statistical information is recorded, no visitor is identifiable.
Using Plausible website owners comply with GDPR, CCPA
According to its website, this is the info they collect from visitors.
We track the page URL of each page view on your website. We use this to show you which pages have been viewed and how many times a particular page has been viewed.
The hostname and path are collected. Query parameters are discarded, except for these special query parameters: ref=, source= and utm_source=.
|HTTP Referer||https://facebook.com||We use the referrer string to show you the number of visitors referred to your website from links on other sites.|
|Browser||Chrome||We use this to show you what browsers people use when visiting your website. This is derived from the User-Agent HTTP header. The full User-Agent is discarded.|
|Operating system||macOS||We use this to show you what operating systems people use when visiting your website. We only show the brand of the operating system and don’t include the version number or any other details. This is derived from the User-Agent HTTP header. The full User-Agent is discarded.|
|Device type||Desktop||We use this to show you what devices people use when visiting your website. This is derived from window.innerWidth. The actual width of the browser in pixels is discarded.|
|Visitor Country||United Kingdom||We look up the visitor’s country using their IP address. We do not track anything more granular than the country of origin and the IP address of the visitor is discarded. We never store IP addresses in our database or logs.|
Even the IP that is used to determine unique visitors is not stored on the database, and it is hashed and then stored, that way no visitor is identifiable.
Finally all code is open source, so anyone can check it to be sure privacy is respected.
Self Hosted option
On June 12, 2020 Plausible was made available for self host it. The instructions as well as the code can be found at Plausible repository
Statistics help webmasters and system administrator to better manage websites, it also important for companies to follow any campaign success or failure, but at the same time visitor’s privacy should be respected.
Plausible gives enough information to website owners in a clear and easily readable way while respecting visitors privacy.
There are other options, but for me, for the price the simplicity and information given, Plausible is the best option.