ClickMap helps visualize traffic, usability problems
I agree with Julie Albertson that Omniture SiteCatalyst’s ClickMap plugin is incredibly useful and interesting. It’s also a lot of fun to play with, as good interfaces are. The day we got it at work, I started showing it off to everyone.
The ClickMap visualization is really helping us think through our upcoming redesign. It isn’t going to be the only tool, though. The heatmap of clicks can show you what works — which links people did find and click on. But for the links that didn’t get many clicks, the software can’t tell you why. Was it because people weren’t interested in that link, or that they couldn’t find it? If they couldn’t find it, where were they looking for it?
Because ClickMap only tracks clicks, the best it can tell you is “such-and-such isn’t working.” That’s incredibly valuable knowledge, but you still have to be creative, or at least take shots in the dark, to figure out an alternative design. There’s no substitute for watching ordinary people using your site to get the deepest picture of usability flaws, but there’s also no substitute for ClickMap to get a subset of that picture in real time.
Excellent point -- it's not magical. It ALSO can't tell you if your users actually found what they were looking for once they clicked (which is actually the most important thing, eh).
What's funny is that Omniture really underplays this feature, kind of shrugging it off as 'what's the big deal, you've had this data all along.' They must have better staffing budgets than most newspapers (who doesn't ;) because they don't seem to properly appreciate the tremendous value in having the system do all the mapping for you so that analysis that would have taken hours can happen in seconds.
We use clickmap at work, as well, but I find that I tend to agree with Omniture's implied position on the feature: we've had the data all along. While clickmap's visual data is useful for individual page analysis, on any larger site (of the type generally associated with Omniture's exorbitant fees) the type of analysis you're doing most of the time involves paths and groups of pages. All of the information ClickMap can give you is really pulled out of other reports just as easily -- in fact, I generally find it much faster to simply run another report within the Omniture interface, than swap out to IE (only runs on IE, not Firefox), load up my site, load up the plugin, and go to the page in question.
That said, it is still fun -- and provides a great eye-opener for truculent clients who refuse to believe that placing the CEO's picture on the front page is a bad idea.
I use the click map regularly to make my case for how news should be played and what other links work us us and which don't. I wish we'd had this tool years ago.