Web analytics FAQ



What is Countly web analytics?

Countly is an open source, enterprise grade analytics platform built for all types of devices and platforms, including web. When you add an application and select “web”, Countly, unlike several other cross-device analytics platforms, automatically arranges and redesigns its user interface to emphasize web analytics related menus and widgets. Countly Community Edition source code is available for free via GitHub, and Countly Enterprise Edition, which is available by subscription, can be purchased from Countly.

How is Countly different to other web analytics platforms?

Countly web analytics has been used with a lot of success on several thousands of web pages. What makes Countly unique is that, since it can be installed on your premises (e.g as self hosted web analytics), you have complete control of your data. Especially in highly regulated domains, like banking, finance, telecom and healthcare, the need for protecting personally identifiable information data is more critical than ever. Countly, with its open nature, preserves your privacy and security while providing the widest set of web analytics features.

How does it work?

Countly, like most other web analytics platforms, has a tracker (a Javascript file). This tracker, when loaded by your web page, starts sending user, session, error etc information to your Countly server, where it is visualized and reported. This data is stored using MongoDB, and can be extracted anytime for further analysis and reporting.

How can I extend Countly for my needs?

Countly can be customized to meet your specific needs. The underlying platform has a plugin based architecture, where you can use more than 40 plugins, or write your own in Javascript. For example, you can extend Countly by creating new a dashboard element to combine and display data in new ways.

How can I evaluate Countly?

We provide you a 30-day trial account. You can evaluate Countly by signing up for a trial account here, without entering your credit card details. If you are satisfied about what you see, we would be more than pleased to have a discussion about your requirements.

Can I rebrand Countly ?

Countly Enterprise Edition can be rebranded and white-labeled. The Community Edition, due to its custom open source license, is not available for rebranding.. In order to have the Countly Enterprise Edition dashboard reflect your company colors and brand, you can follow steps explained in this documentation.

Where can I find video trainings for Countly?

We have an extensive set of video trainings to show how Countly dashboard works, on Youtube.

General questions

Is there a glossary that defines various metrics, terms, and acronyms used by Countly?

Yes, we have an extensive glossary which provides a list of terms used in Countly, together with their meanings. Click here to read it.

What is a view, an event and a session?

  • Pageviews or screenviews: A pageview (for web, or screenview for mobile) is usually automatically generated and measures a user viewing a piece of content. A pageview is one of the fundamental metrics in digital analytics. It is used to calculate many other metrics, like pageviews per visit and average time on page.

  • Events: An event is like a counter. It’s used to measure how often a user takes action on a piece of content. Unlike a pageview which is automatically generated, an event must be manually implemented. You usually trigger an event when the user takes some kind of action. The action may be clicking on a button, clicking on a link, swiping a screen, etc. The key is that the user is interacting with content that is on a page or a screen.

  • A session is simply a collection of hits, from the same user, grouped together. By default, Countly groups hits together based on activity. When Countly detects that the user is no longer active it will terminate the session and start a new one when the user becomes active. Countly uses 20 minutes of inactivity to separate sessions. 


How do I get more information about my audience?

Countly, in general, can be used to get information about your audience in several ways, including but not limited to:

  • You can record a custom event together with a segmentation value in order to get an idea of how your app is used.
  • In general, items under Analytics menu (users, sessions, page views, countries, etc) are a great way to know more about them.
  • Flows show you how users go through your site step by step
  • User Profiles shows all users and what they do in a beautifully crafted time table.
  • Drills can be used to drill down data and see a focused group by creating user cohorts.
  • Funnels are a great way to see which users have completed a series of events (actions).
  • Referral Analytics (attribution) shows how your users find you, and come to your site or download your app.

What are User Profiles?

Countly User Profiles is a feature which helps you get insights about all of your users or visitors. It's a very quick way to know how an individual user behaves when he uses your application. You know when each user logs in, completes a specific event, completes a funnel or encounters a crash that affects him. Those users can be assigned custom properties and each custom property for a user can be queried. You can also track in app purchase amounts for a user and calculate their life time value.

User Profiles plugin is available in Enterprise Edition.

How do I track campaigns?

Countly helps you track your mobile or web campaigns with the help of the Referral Analytics plugin. As you define a campaign, the campaign unique link you create can be used to identify how each user has converted and what this conversion cost is. This helps you not only track a campaign, but also compare your campaigns and see similarities and differences among them.

Referral Analytics is available in Enterprise Edition.

How do I view user and event flows?

Countly Flows is a great way to see which paths your users have been following from start of the session towards the end. It's a plugin available in Enterprise Edition.

How do I use funnels?

Funnels are used to measure how and if users complete a specific series of events. With funnels, it is possible to see where users drop off. You can define as many funnels as you want, and each funnel by default can consist of 8 steps (though this can easily be modified). Funnels work retroactively, meaning that when you define a funnel, all past data can be queried immediately.

Funnels are available in Enterprise Edition. For more information about funnels, please see this link.

Is it possible to build a custom dashboard for web?

Countly provides easy to use tools to create custom dashboards to support big data visualizations. Using custom dashboards that show sessions, events, crash and push data, you can can customize how your data looks (with tables, time series chart, bar chart, or number), based on specific business goals and KPIs. Custom dashboards have the ability to add as many widgets you want, and each dashboard can be shared with your colleagues inside your organization.

How do I collect Javascript errors?

Countly Javascript SDK can be used to automatically collect JS errors inside your application. In order to view errors on your dashboard, please see this link.

How do I restrict a user to see only some of the views but not others?

Countly’s dashboard provides user based restrictions. Just go to Management > Users and then click on the corresponding user. There you can select restrictions based on menu items.

How do I generate periodic reports?

Go to Management > Email Reports. Create a report and it will be sent to your email address depending on your choice of frequency (e.g every day, week or month). You can also create Alerts (Management > Alerts)

Advanced features

How can I track purchases?

The Countly Revenue Analytics plugin can be used to track revenue. This plugin collects and displays data like total revenue, average revenue per user, average revenue per paying user, paying user count, and paying/total users. In order to send revenue data, please see Web SDK configuration details.

Can I track multiple sites?

Countly has a multi-tenant system, therefore it’s possible to track several sites. Some of our customers track more than 400 apps and websites simultaneously.

Can I eliminate bots and other unnecessary traffic?

Countly by default ignores bots and prefetching & pre-rendering from counting as real website visits. You can configure this behaviour by visiting this file and configuring necessary parameters.

How does a session timeout occur?

When a user opens the application, it shows as an “online user”, until he closes his app. When he closes his application, SDK sends “session end” information to the server, terminating his online presence, therefore “online users” number decreases by 1. If app loses internet connectivity, then server waits for 3 minutes and then drops his online presence similarly.

When is a user "new user"?

Device ID is generated and stored in local storage. Hence,

  • If user uses another computer/device, it's a new user
  • If user uses another browser, it's a new user
  • If user uses incognito mode, it's a new user
  • If user clears browser/website data/cache, it's a new user

When does a session begin and end?

A session starts when webpage loads, and ends when user leaves the webpage. On the server side, we also have a 15 second cooldown. That means, if the user visits another webpage in less than 15 seconds, then SDK will send session start, however the Countly server would actually extend the old session, and not count it as new one. If time passed is more than 15 seconds, then upon visiting webpage, the Countly server will count it as new session. This value (15 seconds) is configurable on server, Management > Configurations > API > Session Cooldown

During session start and session end, SDK reports duration. Every 60 seconds, SDK sends the value 60 to the server, in order to increase user's session by 60 seconds. When session ends, SDK sends the remaining time. For more information, see this SDK development guide

Additionally there are other scenarios when session can end and start again:

1) Due to inactivity: If the user is inactive for more than 20 minutes (default value, but can be configured in Web SDK), SDK sends end session request and stops updating the duration. But if the user performs an action (click, scroll, mouse move or keyboard button) then the same session starts again. Here, the same rule applies: if it is within 15 seconds, then session is extended, else a new session is started.

Note that session end due to inactivity happens only after 20 minutes of inactivity, during which duration is counted.

2) Additionally, SDK tries to detect unfocusing window, like minimizing browser or switching tabs. If that happens, SDK sends end session request. Upon focusing window, SDK starts the session again. However, the page visibility API that is used to detect this is quite new feature, and is supported on mostly new browsers. There are also exceptions, like not supporting window minimization, on older browsers. SDK tries to use some fallback mechanisms to detect the same, however if the browser does not provide any option to track such features, user's session duration may be counted multiple times for each open tab.

Data policy and privacy

How does Countly secure my web traffic?

Countly uses HTTPS connection between device and your instance. This ensures a privacy of data collected.

Does Countly collect PII (Personally Identifiable Data)?

By default, Countly doesn’t store any personally identifiable data. However, you can send PII data like user name, email address, if you need - in this case note that you may be bound with certain regulations and data privacy policies which you may be facing in your country or sector. If you are in doubt and want to get more information, drop us an email and we’ll provide you additional details.

Who owns or has rights to use my data?

You collect your data, so you own it. Make sure you get adequate approvals from your users before using this data.

Does Countly sample data?

Countly, by default, doesn’t sample data except Flows visualization. Unlike some other analytics tools, you always will see the unsampled and unfiltered data on Countly interface. This gives Countly an unprecedented advantage over other similar companies.

The only exception to this is the Flows plugin, where you will see a randomized sampling based on your usage. For more information about sampling in Flows, please get in contact with us.

How can I export my data?

From time to time, or programmatically, you may want to export data from Countly database to another medium. This can be done in a few ways:

  • Via MongoDB export: Countly command line provides export functionality. Please check Countly command line to get an understanding of how to export data from MongoDB.
  • Via Countly API: Countly API can be used to export web analytics data.
  • Using export icon in tables: Most of the pages on dashboard are exportable. Just click on the export icon at top right hand of a table and you’ll be presented with a few options for export type (e.g XLS or CSV).

Common issues

My site has several millions of daily users, so how well does Countly scale?

There are several installation options for Countly, from installing on a single small instance to a sharded system with 20+ servers or more. Depending on your use-case, chances are your apps may be sending several billions of datapoints per month. Whatever the size is, we have the required expertise to scale Countly both horizontally and vertically. Please contact us to provide you the right deployment approach.

I cannot see heatmap reports

In order to view heatmaps, they should be enabled from Javascript SDK.

Also, note that browsers do not allow loading HTTP iframe content on HTTPS websites. For this reason, if you are using HTTPS on your Countly instance, you will only be able to view HTTPS content and no HTTP page content will be visible.

I don't see a "particular" feature on my dashboard

If you don’t see a feature, check if whether the plugin is already enabled or not, from Management → Plugins. If you are using Community Edition, some of the features may not be available. In order to see the differences between Community and Enterprise Edition, go to the comparison page.

I cannot see Angularjs Javascript errors

AngularJs swallows errors by default. You need to extend angular's $exceptionHandler to call Countly.log_error() . For more information, see this blog post.

I am in China and I cannot reach Google maps

When you install Countly (either Community Edition or Enterprise Edition), installer checks if it can reach out to Google services. If you are in China or in a country that Google services are blocked by default, then Countly adapts itself to this situation and doesn’t show maps visualization.

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