Natalie Pyron | Product Marketing, Product Planning & UX in Seattle

User Research Tool Review: ClickTale

Category : Blog Dec 19th, 2011

In my previous post I reviewed Verify, an application that enables you to gather real-time feedback on screenshots from your customers.  I described how web analytics programs like Google Analytics and Omniture’s Site Catalyst can help answer questions like how many people visited your website, where did they come from, what pages did they view on your site.  A/B and multivariate tests can tell you which design or message is converting better.  Yet, none of these tools do a good job of showing how your visitors engaged inside the pages of your site.  ClickTale helps fill that gap by providing a suite of heatmaps, plus videos of real customers browsing your site.

“Research shows that there is an 84-88% correlation between mouse and eye movements, allowing the creation of high-precision heatmaps, based on just the users’ mouse move movements.”ClickTale

ClickTale has four types of heatmaps: mouse move heatmap, click heatmap, attention heatmap, and scroll-reach heatmap.  A mouse move heatmap is a visual representation of what visitors are looking at and focusing on within a webpage.  A click heatmap shows you every spot on a webpage that visitors have clicked and the time it took them to click.  Note, this is inclusive of links, images, and even blank space.  So if your customers use an iPad to view your site, you may see a steady track of dots on the right side.  An attention heatmap shows you how much attention a specific area of a webpage is getting from visitors.  This can help you understand what content is interesting or being ignored by visitors.  Last but not least, the scroll-reach heatmap shows if and how far down visitors scroll on a webpage.  If important content is falling below the fold, more than half of your visitors could be missing out.  The scroll-reach heatmap can help you identify the opportunity lost and that could be regained.

ClickTale GameHouse Heatmap

Besides heatmaps, ClickTale’s visitor recordings feature is worth every penny.  You can discover exactly how a visitor uses your site by watching every mouse move, click, scroll and keystroke that they take.  Of course, ClickTale does protect visitors and will not record user passwords and private information.  You can start by viewing a specific page, and then follow the visitor’s every next step.  The video panel shows the visitor’s geographic location by country, their browser type, their session length, and if they received technical errors.  You can even filter videos matching certain criteria, such as visitors that entered your site from a search channel.  It’s eye-opening to watch a customer attempt to engage with your service and they either overlook the call-to-action buttons or they’re confused what to do or the button doesn’t function properly.  You can at least narrow down the roadblocks and isolate areas to test and fix.

You could argue that ClickTale is more accurate than a field study or usability lab test because the participant isn’t aware that they’re being recorded or that the moderator is observing over their shoulder.  The visitor is in their natural state.  Regardless, if you want to know what works on your site and what areas need improvement, ClickTale is a must for your toolkit.  Implementation is as simple as adding a small line of JavaScript code to the webpages you’d like to record.

ClickTale isn’t cheap though, but it’s also not the cost of a formal lab usability session which can start at $10K.  If your site gets 1M+ visitors, I’d recommend ClickTale’s Silver package.  If you have less than 1M visitors, just get the Bronze package.  Unless you have 1-2 dedicated heads focused on site usability, the Gold & Enterprise package will supply you with more data and videos than you’ll have time to watch and analyze.  Try it for 30 days and if it’s not right for you, cancel.  I think you’ll find it’s a great compliment to your standard web analytics tool.  For more information, check out ClickTale’s website and wiki.


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