I’ve used Google Analytics for probably around 15 years. That’s a long time. Google Analytics has always felt like a deal with the devil: It’s such a convenient way to get basic site stats — how many people visit, which pages are getting the most visits, and basic demographics such as region and browser/OS, etc. — but at what cost? I’ve never felt comfortable contributing to Google’s insatiable appetite for personal data.

And, hypocritically, I am a strong proponent for ad blockers that prevent sites from tracking my visits.

Coupled with the increasingly poor Google Analytics administrative experience (more confusing, more bloated, overemphasis on monetization features I don’t need) and confusing support for GDPR, it prompted me to look for alternatives.

This isn’t the first time I’ve tried something else. Around 2014, I switched to Matomo (formerly piwik), an open-source self-hosted clone of Google Analytics. While it worked OK, it became too much to manage, and after a couple of years, I begrudgingly switched back to Google Analytics.

Now, nearly a decade later, I find myself wanting to untangle from Google again, and figured Matomo would be a mature solution worth revisiting. Unfortunately, Matomo is still heavier than I’d like. I don’t really want to self-host anymore, and Matomo was proving to be a bit complicated to integrate into Vue-based projects. I was also not looking forward to implementing new GDPR-compliant ‘click to consent to cookies’ prompts.

While researching Matomo, I ran across a discussion of plausible.io’s approach to privacy. I had never heard of Plausible, but was immediately impressed by their pitch: they’re based in Germany, and by default only collect anonymized data, meaning they’re GDPR compliant out of the box, and no ‘cookie consent’ prompts are required. While Plausible does get blocked by some ad blockers, its focus on privacy is helping them slowly get allow-listed by ad block vendors, meaning Plausible’s analytics scripts are less likely to be blocked than Google’s.

Plausible feels very reminiscent of Proton, a privacy-focused suite of products in Switzerland designed to help people decouple from Gmail. Like Proton, Plausible isn’t free, but that’s because they’re not scanning or selling your data. Both Proton and Plausible are very affordable, and the modest fees help them continue to provide the service. (Shameless plug: Here’s a referral link for Proton if you’d like to try a month of Proton’s Mail Plus for free!)

I signed up for a free 30-day trial of Plausible, and was impressed with the simplified dashboard and ability to import historical Google Analytics data. So much so that I immediately decided to switch platforms, moving this blog, PDFObject.com, and some of my other properties to Plausible.

Time will tell how wise the decision is, but I’m already enjoying the Plausible experience much more than Google Analytics. It’s more streamlined, and doesn’t nag me to monetize or integrate with an ad platform. Plausible supports funnels, goals, and campaigns if I ever decide to incorporate marketing into my sites, but by default is a nice bare-bones way to get site stats without compromising user privacy. And that alone makes Plausible worth a shot.

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