Instant Pretty Stats! Visual.ly Turns Your Google Analytics Into Infographics

spydey vs Rainn
If you're a fan of Visual.ly infographics, then you know how wonderfully simple, colourful and easy to understand they can be. And even if you have never hired them to custom-make a graphic for you, you might have used their fun tools to create your own.

Like, for instance, this lovely graphic on the right which pairs yours truly in a head-to-head Twitter showdown with none other than one @RainnWilson. That's right, I'm taking on the uber nerd from the Office to answer one of life's most important questions: do we tweet on the same day at the same time? (Spoiler: no) And who has the better follow ratio? (Spoiler: me) (Granted, he has A THOUSAND TIMES more followers than I do but you know, whatevs.) 

They offer a bunch of layouts and story options, all you have to do is give up your privacy connect one of your social media accounts, and they mine the data to create the graphic automagically. Now, I did find that the data they mine doesn't go that far always go that far back in time, so some of the results have to be taken with a grain of salt. I tried a Twitter history, and I swear it only used the last few hundred or thousand tweets. Given that I have 35,000 tweets and counting, the resulting image really didn't paint a comprehensive picture. It did however have a flashy kewl factor that made it fun (not to be taken too seriously).

Visual.ly has added an appealing new service though, which could be very useful to those of us who work on the Web and are responsible for reporting on client engagement and site use on a regular basis: they have added the ability to pull stats directly from Google Analytics and auto-generate infographics. Let me reiterate: you can connect Visual.ly to your GA account and every week it will send you a highly stylized infographic depicting your site usage and engagement. And it will include comparisons of your current week to previous weeks, in order to track trends in some of the key metrics.

Here's a sample visual of the engagement metrics portion of my graphic from this week:


And here's a look at a complete sample infographic:

Click to enlarge
This could be a really handy way of keeping tabs on week-to-week changes in traffic on your site. Especially during short term communications or promotional blitzes such as ad campaigns. However...

A word of caution

Now, being a good little metrics person, I absolutely need to caution you about the usage of these infographics: The collection of numbers being reported is by no means complete. And, much like my complaint about the social infographics I played with and mentioned above, this diagram really only portrays a very small part of the story. 

Mainly, because it is missing the entire "Why" factor. 

Using only a graphic like this to perform your weekly reporting would be (dare I say it) irresponsible. However, I will say that it could be a great way to supplement your weekly reporting, as long as you chop it up and integrate it with the appropriate narrative. That's right, I said chop it up. Because you and I both know that these infographics are far too pretty, simple and tantalizing: the minute you put them into circulation, everything else gets ignored. Take it apart and mix it in with your detailed analysis of what's going on behind the numbers to tell the whole story of what's going on with your site.

(Source: The Next Web)