A hand holding a lens over a beach scene, bringing it into tight focus - Clarity concept
PHOTO: Adobe

It is unusual to see a new analytic solution, especially during a pandemic in which marketers are scrambling to adjust campaigns rather than invest in new tools. But that is what happened this week as Microsoft introduced Clarity, a dashboard designed to measure website engagement and to indicate what changes could improve the user interface (UI) and an overall online customer experience.

Microsoft launched Clarity as a straightforward digital analytics solution that is, according to its announcement, "simple to use for developers and non-developers alike."

How Clarity Makes Analytics Clear

Clarity operates with a simplicity similar to current social media dashboards. Like Google Analytics it is a user interface divided into four key segments. The difference is that Clarity is focused more on heatmap analysis: Heatmap and Recording are the main analysis panels, while Dashboard summarizes UI and page performance metrics. The fourth panel, Settings, is meant for further account adjustments.

clarity dashboard

The Heatmap panel offers two views of user interactions on a given web page. One view is click maps, which displays where page visitors are generally clicking. The other is a scroll map, to also show how page visitors move up and down a given page.  

The Recording panel captures the user engagements for playback against a heatmap. This arrangement is typical with heatmap analysis. Clarity brings an innovative flexibility by applying markers and filters. The filters are meant to adjust the playback, allowing users to dial into the activity that is likely linked to user interface performance. Markers appear along the video playback timeline, indicating where the click occurred. You can click at those points to start a playback showing a heatmap for a given user activity. 

clarity heatmap

The Dashboard panel displays aggregate metrics based on the Recording and Heatmap results, while introducing a few new terms with easily understood definitions. The dashboard displays engagement metrics such as sessions, page load time, and bounce rate. Two metrics, "rage" clicks and "dead" clicks, are derived from the heatmap and recordings panels. A rage click is the repeated clicking of a button or URL element, meant to signify trouble with UI functionality. Dead clicks are user activity in which no action from a button or page element occurred. Finally, there is a metric called excessive scrolling. It is meant to express how users are taking too long searching for text or features. Other performance metrics, such as a device and operating system are also represented.

Related Article: What Marketers Need to Know About Google Analytics 4

Where Clarity Fits in the Martech Landscape

Microsoft Clarity arrives just as Google Analytics 4, a thorough update, has launched. It is an astonishing contrast — while Google has sought to include machine learning into its reporting, Microsoft introduced basic heatmap and page metrics to support its simple-to-use formula. But both applications have merit.

In terms of popularity among professionals, I do not envision a usage clash between both platforms. Google has struck success with building an ecosystem around Google Analytics, extending from digital ads at one end, Google Data Studio at another end, and a myriad of third-party auxiliary solutions all between those ends. In contrast Clarity does not integrate with any other platform. Granted it is just out of beta. But Microsoft's emphasis on simplicity provides straight-forward features well suited for simpler UI tasks. Certainly both applications will aid marketers in getting a digital customer experience right.

For a marketer's martech plan, Microsoft Clarity can be used alongside other simple dashboards like Hootsuite to develop ideas for refining activity related to a digital presence. Best of all, Clarity is free. Marketers can add a script to a page, in a fashion similar to any other website analytics solution. You can check out a live demo on the Clarity site to see how the features work.

Overall Microsoft Clarity offers a lot of solid feature with zero investment to incorporate. That may be the nicest surprise for marketers planning a 2021 strategy that comes after a pandemic-dominated 2020.