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Choose boring data technology

Data Culture

If you’re working on a small product (perhaps you recently quit your job to become a startup founder), you might be better off using your own database and custom code for analytics than bothering with 3rd party tools. This will cover the essentials with a minimum amount of effort for a long time, and then you can add other tools later on (perhaps after you’ve expanded past the initial founding team).

For example, make a table with columns for user ID, event type, and timestamp. For visitors who aren’t logged in, you can set a cookie with a random UUID and use that for the user ID (or make a separate column). Include other columns and tables as needed. Then write a daily task that queries the table, generates a plain text report and sends it to you by email.

example report

Contributed by
Jacob O’Bryant

Jacob is a founder of, a newsletter recommender system. He specializes in web app architecture and information discovery. Jacob is a Clojurist and musician. You can read Jacob’s essays and find out about his projects at

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