A Powerful Private Open Source Alternative to Google Analytics

Instead of selling my website visitors’ data to Google and other third parties through Google Analytics, I self-hosted a privacy-preserving solution called Umami.

Umami is open-source, does not use cookies, does not track users across the internet, and gives me the option to own my data.

With only a handful of lines of code, you can have an Umami instance up and running, connected to your domain of choice.

In a previous blog post (TODO), I already went through every step you need to take to self-host Umami, integrate it with a ReactJS/NextJS website, and even expose it to the public internet through Nginx (if you want to).

In this blog post, I will show you how I use Umami to track custom events, create reporting dashboards, and analyze conversion funnels.

Here’s a quick lookahead:

- Umami as a Google Analytics Alternative
- Track Custom Events
- Generate Reports
- Create Conversion Funnels

Umami as a Google Analytics Alternative

Close to 75% of all websites use Google Analytics.

Such a behemoth network lets Google track users across different websites. You might be looking at a website that has no affiliation with Google. However, if the website uses Google Analytics, Google will know about it.

I didn’t want my website to add to that already growing number.

That’s why I chose to self-host Umami. Not only is Umami an open-source solution, but my web traffic data stays in a locally hosted Postgres database.

For most websites out there, all the bells and whistles provided by Google Analytics are redundant. They don’t add much to usefulness. Rather, I find the bloated user experience slow and cumbersome.

With Umami, I can analyze everything I want to, with the added benefit of privacy. Here are just a few things that I can do with Umami:

    Number of unique visitors and views

    Average bounce rate

    Average visit time

    Analyze patterns in visitor browsers, OS, devices, countries, regions, etc

    Track custom events with metadata

    Generate detailed reports with complex filters

    Create conversion funnels

That’s more than enough for most website owners.

Track Custom Events

One of the most powerful tools Umami gives me is the ability to track custom events.

For my website, I try the following metrics (you only see a subset in the chart above):

    Clicks on the top Nav Bar

    Clicks on “Subscribe” CTA

    Clicks on “Apply” credit card CTA

I can do this with only 2 lines of JavaScript code:


Then, I can use these events in all my custom reports and conversion funnels. Let’s talk about that next.

Snapshot Reports (UTM Sources, Referrer, etc)

Looking at the raw data and graphs can be daunting.

To help with that, Umami lets you aggregate data, slice them by different parameters, and visualize only what you want to see.

Here are 2 examples of reports I use to analyze my website traffic.

I can check the proportion of my web traffic by utm_source. That means, when I am linking my website on other platforms — say Instagram, YouTube, or Medium — I can pass the relevant utm_source. After that, when a visitor views my website, data will automatically trickle into this report.

Here’s another example that helps me break down my website visitors by device — laptop vs mobile vs desktop vs tablet.

These are only 2 of 10+ reports that I have available to optimize my website. Again, for most people, this is more than sufficient.

Conversion Funnels

Okay, now let’s talk about the final, but arguably the most powerful tool of Umami.

It lets you create conversion funnels.

Not only that, for conversion funnels you can use both URLs and custom events. Let me explain this through a practical example from my website.

Here’s a conversion funnel report I regularly use to see what % of visitors show an interest in my credit cards tab.

Looking at the last 24 hours:

    312 people visited my home page

    25% (higher than I thought!) of visitors visit the Credit Cards tab

    Around 1% click on the Apply CTA

Now you will see that the first 2 points are based on a user visiting a particular URL, whereas the last point is based on credit-card-apply-clicked which is a custom event triggered when someone clicks the CTA button.

That’s powerful! You can create these conversion funnels based on both URL visits AND custom events.

Let’s look at another example, this time a conversion funnel telling me what % of people end up showing interest in at least one blog post.

Looking at the last 24 hours, I can see that 25% of people who landed on my home page showed interest in at least one blog post. That’s impressive!

Closing Thoughts

In my opinion, these are very powerful tools that a free open-source tool like Umami gives me to improve my website performance.

Sure, with Google Analytics you will get more information, but at a big privacy cost.

Now it’s your decision if that cost is worth it to you. Either way, now you know about a free, open-source tool that you can turn to if you want.

If you have made it this far, I hope you found this valuable.

Feel free to follow me on Medium, subscribe to my website, or follow me on YouTube.

Irtiza Hafiz