Glimpses into user behavior

 

Heat map of clicks on the library home page

Heat map of clicks on the library home page

Between static analytics and a usability lab

Would you like an even more intimate glimpse into what users are actually doing on your site, instead of what you (or the library web committee)  think they are doing? There are several easy-to-use web-based analytics services like ClickTale , userflyLoop11Crazy Egg, Inspectlet, or Optimalworkshop. These online usability services offer various ways to track what users are doing as they actually navigate your pages — all without setting up a usability lab, recruiting participants, or introducing the artificiality and anxiety of an observed user session. ClickTale and userfly record user actions that you can view later as a video; most services offer heatmaps of where users actually click on your site; some offer “eye tracking” maps based on mouse movement.

  • Most services allow you to sign up for one free account for a limited amount of data or time.
  • Most allow you to specify which pages or sections of your site that you want to test at a time.
  • Many have monthly pricing plans that would allow for snapshots of user activity in various months of the year without having to pay for an entire year’s service.

We’re testing Inspectlet at the moment. I like it because the free account offers the two services I’m most interested in: periodic video captures of the designated site and heat maps of actual clicks. The code is a snippet added to the web pages of interest. The screen captures are fascinating — watch below as an off-campus user searches the library home page for the correct place to do an author search in the library catalog. I view it as a bit of a cautionary illustration about providing a lot of options. Follow the yellow “spotlight” to track the user’s mouse movements. As a contrast, I watched video after video of clearly experienced users taking less than two seconds to hit the “Ebsco Academic Search” link. Be prepared; watching a series of videos of unassisted users can dismantle your or your web committee’s cherished notions about how users navigate your site.

Inspectlet video thumbnail

This is a Jing video of a screen capture — the actual screen captures are much sharper, and I have zoomed out for illustrative purposes. The free Inspectlet account does not support downloads of capture videos, but Rachit Gupta, the founder, wrote me that in the coming few weeks, Inspectlet is releasing a feature to allow downloads for paid accounts. Paid accounts also have access to real time analytics, so libraries would be able to get a montage of what’s happening in the lobby as it is happening. Imagine being able to walk out and announce a “pop-up library workshop” on using the library catalog effectively after seeing the twentieth person fumble through the OPAC.

Another thing I like about Inspectlet is the ability to anonymize the IP addresses in the individual screen captures to protect an individual patron’s privacy.

The chart below compares the features of a few of the most widely used web-based analytics tools.

 

Vendor Video Captures Heat Maps Mouse & Click Tracking Real Time mode Other Privacy Policy Pricing plan
ClickTale

Scroll maps, form analytics, conversion funnels, campaigns Privacy Policy Basic $99/month; limited free plan; month to month pricing; higher
education discounts available (call)
Crazy Egg  

  Scroll maps, click overlays, confetti overlay Privacy Policy Basic $9/month (annual)
Inspectlet

Scroll  maps, Custom API, anonymized IP addresses Privacy Policy Starter $7.99/month; limited free account.Can cancel subscription at any time.
mouseflow

Movement heatmaps, link analytics Privacy Policy Small: aprox $13 US/month; free plan.Can cancel subscription at any time.
seevolution

Scroll maps, visual tool set for real  time Privacy Policy Light: $29/month. Free plan, but very limited details.
userfly

Terms (with a brief privacy explanation) Basic $10/month; free 10 captures a monthCan cancel subscription at any time.

If you are using one of these services, or a similar service, what have you learned about your users?

Testing new designs or alternative designs – widely used web-based usability tools

After you’ve watched your users and determined where there are problems or where you would like to try an alternative design,  these services offer easy ways to test new designs and gather feedback from users without setting up a local usability lab.

 

Loop11 Create test scenarios and analyze results (see demo) Privacy Policy First project free; $350 per project
Optimalworkshop  Card sorting, Tree Testing, Click Testing Privacy Policy Free plan small project; $109 for each separate plan; 50% discount for education providers
OpenHallway Create test scenarios and analyze results Terms of Service Basic: $49/month; limited free account, Can cancel subscription at any time.
Usabilla Create test scenarios and analyze results; mobile UX testing Terms of Service Starter: $19/month. Can cancel subscription at any time.

 


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