Mint: yes, it IS fresh and tasty.

I must admit- the hype a few weeks back appears quite justified- Shaun Inman’s new site analytical tool Mint is one of my favorite new toys- I’ve been using it to monitor a personal site for a few weeks now and am impressed well beyond my initial expectations. I haven’t seen a more usable (not to mention aesthetically-pleasing) way to scan my current referrers, visits, page views and search terms to date. I really resisted the urge to post right after the release (as the Mint beta squad did a pretty thorough job of getting the message out on their own), but can’t hold back any longer.

This yummy, minty morsel of site-statistical joy is implemented in Ajaxian PHP, MySQL and Javascript, and a compatibility test is also available for download to quickly verify if your server config will support Mint. Pepper (i.e. Mint plug-ins…) can also be written relatively easily to extend the system beyond it’s core modules. Two extra Peppers are already available with Mint; User Agent 007 – which breaks down browser types, versions, platforms and Flash plug-in versions, and Local Search – which allows you to scope how users navigate via search terms once they reach your site. An RSS feed of the newest unique referrers is also available, which allows for a handy drop-down menu via Firefox’s ‘Live Bookmarks’ of the last visitors who’ve wandered thru. Nice touch.Even cooler- for Mac users like myself, there’s an OS X Dashboard widget (appropriately named ‘Junior Mint’) which allows you to scan hit totals for the last hour, day and month without firing up a browser- and links right to the main Mint web app for more details. Sweet.Now to be fair- Mint isn’t really a replacement for long-term traffic analysis (or an iterative rev of Shaun’s other site analytical tool, ShortStat), Mint’s more geared towards a current view of what people are doing on your site *right now*, and is incredibly handy in this respect. For example, you may want to base tactical shifts on Mint data- like AdSense settings based on what your incoming search terms have been over the last day or two- or drop Flash 5 support for a page or two based on your current metrics. At $30 per domain, the price (although contested by some others) ain’t too bad either, in my opinion. I spend more than $30 just taking my wife out to dinner, so have gotten more ROI out of Mint already than the last high-brow French dinner I ate, come to think of it.If you’re interested in writing Peppers to extend Mint, make sure to also check out Marc Garrett’s tutorial here. You should also bookmark “Peppermint Tea” – an index of third-party Peppers maintained by Peter Parkes.Your mileage may vary of course, but in my opinion- Mint’s definitely worth a taste.