Considering that this is the year the web concentrated on chasing real-time services, it’s no wonder we’ve seen web analytics packages jumping on the bandwagon. Watching your visitors exploring your site as it happens, can highlight problems with landing pages, and give you a better understanding of the experience your site visitors are having.
Heat mapping tools pick up where many analytics services leave off – highlighting the popular sections of a web page, and in some case highlighting where people are trying to get to. Heat mapping tools are often used within the field of usability testing, as well as providing additional business intelligence.
Whilst many site owners are probably on the Google Analytics bandwagon (considering it’s free free free!) – there is value in supplementing this package with a decent heatmapping tool. This post showcases some of the best out there on the web, both commercial and open source tools.
Pricing: Freemium Model first 5,000 clicks are free.
ClickDensity easily distinguishes between heat, clicks and hovers actions from the users mouse. ‘Heat’ is determined by combining both clicks and hover actions – portraying both user hesitation and actual intent. You can also break the page down into the two separate elements.
Showing just clicks can highlight problematic parts of the page e.g. elements of the UI that look clickable – but aren’t.
Showing just hover actions can show you elements of the UI which feel particularly ‘unsafe’ to the user -e.g. a delete button which looks like it may delete everything rather than one particular element.
Pricing: Starting from $9 a month
Whilst CrazyEgg doesn’t have any free options for trial purposes, its does have a demo allowing you to see both the interface and reporting functionality.
Functionally, CrazyEgg offers four different ways to analyse your click data. Overlay view, list view, HeatMap and Confetti view. I found list view particularly useful, as it highlighted the percentage of clicks each element receives quickly, and lets you export to Excel for further cross referencing against other data.
Heatmap and Overview view are similar in nature, as they are visual displays of click data. The heatmap graphics are superior to the way that clickDensity show the data – the “dots” are joined to create much more visually appealing heat- “maps” – as opposed to “heat dots”.
Confetti view is also a great feature, as visually it lets you see how different website referrers behave. This could let you see if advertising is working, or if a particular referrer is less likely to click on your advertising.
Pricing: Freemium model – starting at 400 pageviews a month
Clicktale came to my attention as one of the only web analytics package that can actually record mouse movement in real time, and play activity back to you. I even had a bit of fun working out how they went about doing it.
In addition to this functionality, Clicktale offer two types of heatmap. Firstly their scrolling heatmaps allow you to see when people pause on a page, and the impact that the fold has on your content. I’d highlighly recommend giving this a test run before you engage in a new redesign of a site – understanding how visitors engage with the content on your site, can help you immensely at the information architecture stuff. It also lets you better decide what should stay above the fold, and what really matters to your audience.
As with the other packages reviewed here, click tale also offer a “click” heatmap. Their link analysis helps you to discover not only where visitors click, but also where they hover, how long for. If you really want to get into the nitty gritty of how to improve conversions – using data rather than gut instinct, this is a must see package for web marketers.
Pricing: Open Source
There’s also a clickheat plugin ready to roll with the system, which adds the necessary code for WordPress. The feature set is as you would expect – pretty minimal, but it gets the job done. It does however, allow you to break the results down into browser widths, and versions – which can highlight patterns that you wouldn’t have otherwise seen with the results averaged out.
If you are on a tight budget, and have a client requiring heatmapping functionality, it may just be what you are looking for.