Monday, August 21, 2006

Crazy Egg Launched - Visitor Clicks Visualized Now

Crazy Egg, the highly anticipated click tracking service from ACS, launched today. With Crazy Egg, users install a code on their website to track every click a visitor makes on links, forms, advertisements, and flash documents. Results can be displayed in either an overlay or heatmap form giving the user a visual on click activity around the website. This kind of data is very useful for website owners as it can help them learn how their visitors navigate their website and how they can improve and optimize its usability.

Before we get started, let me explain how Crazy Egg works. Crazy Egg can be setup on any website, whether it be a static or dynamic site (blogs included), and is to be used as a tool to test your websites click activity. When setting up a site, you set a length of time for your test session and Crazy Egg will then provide you with a code to insert in your sites body. The next time someone visits your site and clicks on a link, input to a form, advertisment, or flash document, Crazy Egg will record its position. You then can view the click reports during and after the testing session.

The first page you will see when logging in is the Dashboard (Note: numbers blurred in the above screenshot are from a master Crazy Egg test account and are not all in relation to my site). This is where you get an overview of all your pages that you are watching with Crazy Egg. It is also where you go to add a page to your account for testing. Each page listed provides you with details on when the page was last tested, how many tests you have ran, and its current status (actively running or not). Selecting a page from the list will make a new area slide down providing you with a screenshot of the site and basic statistics including number of visits and clicks during the testing duration. To get to the more detailed reports showing the overlay and heatmap, click on the “View Results” button of any page listed.

Viewing a pages report will bring you to a new section of Crazy Egg with a toolbar at the top and your site right below. At default, the overlay reporting method will be shown and if clicks have already been recorded, you will see colored markers around the site. These markers point out where the clicks have been made and will be colored based on the percentage of clicks (blue for low percentage, red for high percentage). Selecting a marker will border the clicked object and pop open a little percentage bar showing the amount of clicks made on that object. You can also open all markers at once by selecting the gear icon on the toolbar and clicking, “open all.”

The next reporting method is, List. Selecting the list button on the toolbar will have a box slide down that will show a table listing all objects that have been clicked. Sorted by the amount of clicks, each row will show the element clicked, what type of element it is (a, strong, span, etc.), the amount of clicks, and the percentage of clicks. Viewing results in the list format makes it very easy for you to quickly grab the names of the most clicked elements, or least clicked, and makes for a quick overview, which at times is easier to view then markers around the site.

The last method, and my favorite method, for viewing results is using the heatmap option. Heatmaps are commonly seen in usability tests and eye tracking tests where the site is overlayed with a grey layer showing high concentrated areas in bright colors ranging from blue to red. Crazy Egg decided to use the same technique to show what elements are most clicked. Blue colored areas have a low percentage of clicks, while red colored areas have a high percentage of clicks. Using the heatmap makes it very easy for you to see what elements around your site receives the most attention and what areas of your site may need some improvement.

Now, let’s say that based on the results from the reports, you made some changes to your website and you want to start another test. This is no problem and Crazy Egg makes this very easy for you. Head over to the Dashboard and select your page. You will see a link below the page name that says, “test a new version.” Clicking this will bring you to a form where you can enter the amount of time you want your new test to run and click save. You will then be directed back to the dashboard where you will see that your page has multiple tests. On the right, after selecting the page, you will see the most recent test on top with the older ones following below allowing you to easily view results for any test you have had under that page.

Crazy Egg offers four plans to choose from when signing up ranging from Free to $99/month. For some, the free plan is all that will be needed as it allows for tracking 5,000 visits/month with 2 pages, which I feel is plently for basic website testing. One downside with the free account is that statistics wont be shown in real-time (live reporting). On the other hand, it may get a little pricy but offering 25,000-250,000 monthly visitors and unlimited pages with live reporting.

All in all, Crazy Egg is a great product providing helpful data to any website owner. I’ve been anticipating its launch since I first learned about it on TechCrunch and Mashable back in March, and I must say, it was well worth the wait. I’m impressed with how simple Crazy Egg makes it for website owners to visualize visitor click activity. You can use Crazy Egg for testing new designs, structure changes, ad placement, page content, and more. Based on results, website owners can learn how visitors see their site and how they should improve it. I will definitely be using this for all future usability tests.