Trending without tracking

Track usage trends, not users

From the start of the healthica 2.x project, we have had a central tenet that we not only don't want to have to discuss user privacy, we want to remove it entirely as an issue. One of the key methods we use internal to the platform is completely anonymous site-usage tracking. By this we mean, the data collected on what's happening on the site includes no user identification data.

We posted about this subject earlier here, including a picture of the actual data tracking table in the backend database.

Now that we have gone live with the part of trends analysis, it's part of our transparency policy to explain exactly what's being tracked. Internal to healthica, we identified a number of actions that are “atomic” — they can be regarded as a single action, such as viewing a marketplace channel, or looking at the details of a part number record.

At this point, we have identified 21 such actions, implemented tracking on them, and put the entire list in the online help (see the end of the screencast below). All we are interested in, both for our own use, and in terms of what we are willing to supply to other parties, is a general sense of what parts of this project are being used. We don't care who made use of the tool, and we don't even know, since there is no user-tracking by design.

You can view a this short screencast, created a few minutes after this feature went live.

In the screencast, you can see the “before” and “after” event counts, but what you won't see is anything about who is taking these actions. We do plan to make much more detailed analytics available to paying clients as more usable data becomes available, but we wanted to make sure everyone has a chance to see behind the curtain.

Clark Wilkins, Simplexable 2022.05.21