clicktale_Logo.jpgA few weeks ago we took a look at the free tools available for conducting usability testing. While free is always welcome, using free products or services can have limitations. When looking at paid options, however, making a decision can be complicated. Recently we had the opportunity to talk with Clicktale, one of the major players in the usability game, about their product, its features and how it can help companies improve their site’s design and user experience.

Every Click Tells a Story

When Clicktale began in 2006 by Dr. Tal Schwartz (CEO) and Arik Yavilevich (CTO) in Israel it offered basic usability capabilities like visual heat maps and behavioral reports. Over the past year they’ve added new and advanced capabilities that don’t just show you how users move from page to page, but what happens within each page. In other words, just like their name suggests, ever click has a tale to tell.

Clicktale offers three types of analytics: behavior, conversion and marketing. Shmuli Goldberg, director of marketing and communications at Clicktale walked us through a demo of the several different types of products and services companies have to choose from to help them better understand how exactly consumers use their site and the types of things that keep them from being customers.

Behavioral Analytics

Before companies can begin to understand their users’ behaviors, they have to see them in action. Using Clicktale’s video recording, clients can see their site through the eyes of their visitors, understand how they use the site, what they’re trying to achieve and where they encounter errors.

While videos can show a lot, it takes a lot of time to watch hours and hours of videos to try to see what users are doing and make appropriate changes based on behaviors seen.

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Click the image to view a demo of Clicktale's video recording.

While Clicktale offers companies all the video reports, it makes synthesizing the information all that much easier by providing a summary of user behavior highlights and advanced filtering that lets you find specific videos of customers who complete or drop out of any pre-defined or post-defined business process, scenario or funnel.

Heat Maps

In addition, Clicktale offers four kinds of “high precision” heat maps based on a user's mouse movements, clicks, attention and scroll reach. With heat maps, clients can see which content, elements and layout increase conversion rates, what customers see just before they decide to purchase a product and how many people miss a site’s call to action buttons.

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An example of a page overlayed with a mouse click heat map. Areas that are frequently moused over are yellow, orange and red with the light blue color indicating "cool" areas.
 

Of course there has been much research about eye tracking and heat maps, but that doesn’t mean that all users display the same behavior, nor does it mean that a company’s website is effectively designed to navigate a user in a manner that leads the user to a desired action.

As well, data for every version of site page are archived, making it easy to conduct A/B testing of multiple page elements.

Conversion Analytics

Seeing what your user sees is only part of web usability. Converting behavior into action is another. Clicktale offers a suite of analytics tools aimed at improving the performance of a site’s online forms. Discover which fields take too long to fill, are most frequently left blank and cause your visitors to leave.

Five individual reports reveal a site’s online form's step-by-step conversion funnel, showing how many visitors came to the form, interacted with the form, tried but failed to submit it, and how many successfully completed it. Information discovered can help companies solve costly design problems, from poor page design or problematic form design.

clicktale_formanalytics.jpg Form Analytics helps to increase online forms conversion rates by optimizing forms to minimize visitors’ frustration and preempt any difficulties that they may have.

As well, Clicktale also shows link analytics, which highlight if a user clicks, hovers or hesitates to click a hyperlink.

Finally, each time a user completes or drops out of any business process or conversion funnel, companies can receive an email alert telling them so. You can even define the parameters by which to track a funnel or business process, including where customers came from, what pages they visited, what links they clicked on and if they successfully converted.

Marketing Analytics

Combining what you’ve seen with what users click, browse and submit allows you to use the valuable knowledge to make changes that can improve user experience. With Clicktale’s real-time monitor, you can see right away how visitors react to the changes and improvements made on a site, without waiting hours or days for traffic analysis.

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Clicktale's real-time monitoring lets you where your visitors are coming from, what they are doing inside your pages and which pages they recently visited on your site.

Such immediate feedback means that essentially users can install Clicktale on their site in the morning, watch users’ behavior by afternoon and make changes to their site that can bring everything back on track.

Privacy Concern With Usability Testing

Compared to many of the free services we profiled, Clicktale goes beyond simple user engagement analysis. By offering such a comprehensive suite of tools, from video to analytics to monitors and alerts, companies will know exactly how to improve their site. The gap between design and information architecture can be bridged.

Yet, with all of the recent concerns about privacy and social media, it makes us wonder if a similar backlash against website usability is around the corner. We posed this question to Mr. Goldberg and we learned that Clicktale has a very strict privacy policy, which states that its software does not collect any personally identifiable information unless a visitor voluntarily and knowingly submits this type of data.

Password fields are never recorded and during session playback asterisks are displayed instead of the input. Any text that a visitor enters into a form but does not submit is hidden. Though you can still generate form analytics reports on these fields, you are unable to view the text.

Opt Out Options Are Available

Still, can users opt out of the process altogether and avoid having their actions recorded? As it turns out, yes. But ironically they have to know where to click. The recording process itself is completely transparent to the end user. However, all ClickTale subscribers must put a disclaimer in their Privacy Policy letting their visitors know that they may be recorded.

Clicktale also offers an opt out option for anyone who does not want to be recorded. By opting out, a cookie is inserted within that visitor's browser that will prevent them from being recorded by any ClickTale customer.

Though some might think that’s a lot of work just to opt out, might we remind you that Google Analytics doesn’t allow opt-out or notify you that it tracks your click paths, etc.

Clicktale is far from free with pricing plans starting at $US 99/month for smaller sites. However they do offer three months for free when you sign up for a year. Overall their plans are flexible offering month-to-month, six months and full year options. So go ahead, click around their site for more information. They’ll be watching!