Introducing CMS Made Simple Statistics

CMS Made Simple Beyond the Basics – Traffic Data

A default installation of CMS Made Simple offers very little statistical information about the visitors and activity occurring on your site. This article will identify some of the visitor information that is collected by the CMS and explore add-on modules that will help collect and analyze traffic.

There is an often overlooked statistic provided by the Search module that can help marketing goals. The Search module collects keyword terms searched on site and provides a count of how often a term was searched. This information can help you shape your content for your target audience. For example, if you sell iPhone accessories and the Search module shows searches for, “Bluetooth speaker”, you can begin offering a selection of Bluetooth speakers to meet customer demand.

There are a few add-on modules that will collect information about your visitors ranging from very basic to very detailed statistics. Stats modules can be found and installed by using the Module Manager inside your CMS Made Simple Admin Console.

Visitor Stats module

The Visitor Stats module collects minimal information about a visitor and the pages visited. It will list each visitor’s IP address, user agent string, and an arrival timestamp. You can also see a brief history of where a visitor arrived from (referrer), the pages visited, and length of time.

CMS Made Simple Visitor Stats

There is a Reset Stats option to clear the recorded information. This is helpful to help minimize database storage when the information is no longer needed.

The Visitor Stats module is a good option for site owners that need a quick way to view recent visitors to their site and do not want a lot of overhead. Simply add {cms_module module='VisitorStats'} to your Layout Template(s) to start collecting data. There are other modules that will collect more detailed statistics that can be useful for site owners who want to analyze the data to know more about a user’s activity.

Note: As of this article’s release, the Visitor Stats module is not available to install from the Module Manager.  Download the module’s .xml file from the CMS Made Simple Forge, http://dev.cmsmadesimple.org/project/files/169 and install using Extensions -> Modules.

HitCounter module

Every once in a great while, I get a request to include a hit counter on a client’s website.  If you find yourself in the same situation and need a lightweight hit counter with a backend admin screen for CMS Made Simple, try the HitCounter available from the Module Manager.

The HitCounter has options to ignore unwanted user-agents and IP addresses.  You can also use the module’s parameter options to count unique News article views and for other modules, like calendar detail pages, blog detail pages, and etc.  Simple add, {HitCounter} to your templates and read the module’s help to learn more about configuration options.

Statistics module

The Statistics module offers loads of detailed visitor data. This module allows admins to choose between image based graphs and charts or plain text lists of information. Plain text lists uses less memory and resources and thus it is my preferred view and depicted in the examples.

CMS Made Simple Stats

Using the Statistics module, a site owner can quickly see a summary of useful information about the activity on their site. The Summary view provides:

  • Total unique hits
  • Total page views
  • Hits today
  • Hits this week
  • Hits this month
  • Hits this year
  • Most popular browser
  • Most popular
  • Bounces
  • Most popular country
  • Currently active visitors

Site owners can configure the Statistics module to meet their traffic reporting needs. Options range from determining number of pages to list in reports, to the length of time before a visitor is considered inactive, to not recording traffic originating from an IP address, to ignoring all Admin users.  The latter is really helpful to easily stop it from collecting stats from site owners and those managing the site.

Traffic can be filtered to view activity by Days, Time of day, Weeks, Months, and Years. The Days and Time of day views can be extremely important when a site owner needs to measure the success of a marketing campaign, like a television commercial or newsletter.

Additional filters are available but two that seem to be most useful are Pages and Referrers to learn detailed information about which pages are visited and where from visitors originate.

The Pages view shows stats about the most popular pages of a site:

CMS Made Simple Stats Pages

Another helpful filter is the Visitors view. It will list information about all human and bot traffic:

CMS Made Simple Stats Visitors

The module will also reveal how much mobile device traffic is occurring and the type of mobile device (iPhone, Android, etc.).

A template tag is needed to start collecting data.  By default, it will print out a hit counter, so to avoid showing that, use {Statistics how='dont'}.  The module’s Help offers additional options.

Note: As of this article’s release, the Statistics module should not be installed via the Module Manager unless running CMS Made Simple version 1.10 or newer. Some community members have patched the module using fixes discussed in the module’s Bug Tracker.  There is a patched version available here running successfully in CMS Made Simple sites running version 1.11.9 on servers using PHP versions 5.4.21, 5.3.27 and 5.3.28.  Another patched version was posted to this bug report.

Third party statistics

Piwik is an open source Google Analytics alternative that is installed and run from your own server. The Piwik Web Analytics module integrates Piwik Dashboard into the Admin Console. It is loaded with traffic statistics and looks great.  This module requires that the Piwik platform is installed on your server and set up.  It is really quick and easy to do this. Visit http://piwik.org/download/ to download and learn more about the installation process.  Near the end of its installation wizard, you will be provided an API authentication token. Copy and paste that token into the piwik analytics module’s settings.

The Piwik Dashboard is fully customizable and stuffed with detailed statistics that will make a marketing pro excited.

CMS Made Simple Piwik

CMS Made Simple site owners can easily add Google Analytics to their website. In the past, it was easy enough to include the GA code inside of Layout Templates using a Global Content Block or the Snippets module.  There have been modules, plugins, and User Defined Tags offered by the community too. Now, GA Made Simple by Devictio (GAMadeSimple in the Module Manager) makes it even easier. Enter your Google Analytics Tracking ID into the module’s options and it will add the javascript snippet automatically to your pages without having to use additional template tags.

There is a full range of modules provided by the CMS Made Simple community to collect and analyze your site’s traffic.  If you use another method or have any suggestions, please leave a comment below.


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Author Spotlight

JohnnyB

JohnnyB

I've been a full-time front-end web developer for nine years working with design and marketing agencies and businesses located all over the USA. CMS Made Simple has been my go-to Content Management System since mid 2006.

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