Google Analytics is awesome, there is no doubt about it. It’s easy to integrate into websites and the UI to get metrics information out of is pretty cool too, especially the real time stuff which now seems to work better than ever. However, when I’m asked particularly complex metrics-based questions by guys I develop sites for I often find it difficult to get exactly the information I need from the standard Google Analytics UI.
Instead, I find the Google Analytics Query Explorer 2 tool useful. It’s not pretty, but it allows me to build up complex analytics queries in a single screen without having to search around for filters and options. It feels more like writing SQL against Google’s Analytics store rather than battling with the standard UI they wrap around the numbers. I wouldn’t be surprised if the default UI uses the Query Explorer behind the scenes to get at the numbers either.