I love data – wherever I have worked data has been involved. The ability to understand what your customer/visitor wants allows you to change and adapt to their needs. Of course there is the age old privacy issue associated with this sort of data collection but as long as this data is secured and used properly it can only help both the company and its customers/users.
Most systems though give you the same sort of thing – page views, user path, unique visitors etc etc. There are a few companies that are introducing new techniques.
Eye tracking was used by the Microsoft Office team allowing you to see how a user is interacting with your software, meaning you can understand how a user is interacting with your software. Traditionally this has been an expensive technology to implement and so cannot be widely rolled out.
However, a similar but more basic technique and now becoming more widely available is heat mapping – the ability to identify which parts of your site is popular with your users. Is that down to the popular nature of that content or is it because of the way your site is designed? Could you improve as a result of this info? I think so. Unfortunately you cannot identify those areas of the site a user is drawn to if it doesn’t also have the ability to interact with the user. You need eye tracking for that. There is a free service that tries to predict where users are drawn to which you can find here. I am not convinced by it yet. I would love to compare its predictions to real eye tracking systems and see how it performs. Annoyingly I now cannot find this site – I’ll come back and update this post once I find it again. In the meantime, here are a few companies that sound interesting in the web analytics space.
Crazy Egg provide heatmapping and at a reasonable price. I am going to try this service shortly so will feed back on my thoughts. Their site was down over the weekend though so maybe they are becoming over subscribed.. guess I will find out 🙂
Clicktale has just appeared on my radar. They are in private beta currently so its one to watch out for right now. They take a different tack. It records user’s interaction with the site. It struck me that this might make things difficult to really guage. A single user’s interaction is often meaningless in general terms. They do have the ability to group interactions and show results using metrics such as “Percentage of page viewed” and “Active Browsing time” though I will have to wait to use it in action before concluding how useful this actually turns out to be.