The very idea of ‘I should make statistics’ or ‘what are the metrics of this’ starts from the same place. We have a desire to understand what a thing is. Statistics, like traffic, and metrics, like speed, can tell us obviously important information about our sites. Faster sites do better. More traffic gets you more… whatever.
But those are the obvious things. There are easy to understand numbers and there are difficult to process numbers. And it all matters where you save the data.
Getting At The Data Getting At The Data
When I set about making statistics for LezWatchTV, the biggest problem I faced was determining what I wanted to show. Some things were simple. How many characters died and what percent of all characters was that? How many shows have dead characters?
Since I chose to use WordPress features, like custom taxonomies, for the majority of the aspects of the site, getting those numbers was simple. There were, of course, some that were very difficult to get at, and this is fully of my own design. Sometimes there will be data you want to use that is just harder to get at than others.
This means the question of understanding your numbers begins with understanding where they belong.
Save Data in Smart Places Save Data in Smart Places
I say this over and over. Use WordPress’ native features first.
I mean use the taxonomies and the custom post types and the post meta wisely. But. When you’ve got a lot of data that needs to be cross related, consider saving it someplace else. For example, the reason FacetWP is so damn fast is that it doesn’t query WordPress all the time, and instead uses it’s own tables.
Having it’s own table means there’s less overhead as they can make direct SQL calls to pull the data. When you have data spread across three post types, this becomes pretty much an imperative. You just have to script the code to save it properly.
External Data External Data
While FacetWP does save data to it’s own tables, there is another option, and that is external locations. You’re most familiar with this with regards to Google Analytics. Some data makes sense to keep local, but keep in mind what you’re doing and what you’re generating with the data. When it’s just posts, local is perfectly logical. When you get into statistics… Well. Maybe you should export it.
That brings up the next question. What data to you export, and to where.