ClickHeat – free self-hosted clicks heat map

clickheat_icon Web analytics is like looking outside after rain – you see wet asphalt but not how drops fall. To see what visitors are actually looking and clicking at you need more special tools. There are several services that provide heat maps statistics but they mostly cost money.

ClickHeat is open source and free solution you can just host yourself.

What it does

ClickHeat gathers data about clicks visitors make on site and uses it to generate heat map of where those clicks were made in specific time period.

clickheat_result

Installation

ClickHeat requires hosting with PHP but doesn’t use a database – data is simply logged to plain text files. I had bunch of problems with file permissions and names on my FTP account. Everything was easy to solve (if you go for it – your skills are advanced enough to use hosting, right?) but be ready to spend some time getting it running.

After install it generates piece of code to put in pages for tracking. In case of WordPress that would be best included in footer.php of theme. You also need to setup correct layout (centered, liquid, etc) in settings.

I used exactly same code and got clicks from all pages mixed together. To get specific heat maps for different pages you need to use code with different group name for them.

Goals

Heat map helps determine and fix two types of problems:

  • visitors click something they should not;
  • visitors don’t click something they should.

For example after recent header redesign I noticed that RSS area gets less clicks. Adding underline for get updates text made it look more like a link and number of clicks increased.

I don’t have opposite example but on other sites I often click page elements that looked like something designed to be clicked – with no result. If owners used heat map they would see those areas draw clicks and made changes or made useful link out of it.

Overall

Somewhat hard to make it work (read it – techie toy) but free, works well and provides valuable information. Programmers can take it even further and take open source heat map library (ClickHeat is based on) to use in own GPL-compatible apps.

Home&download http://www.labsmedia.com/clickheat/index.html

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13 Comments

  • I like this. This is the perfect tool from the standpoint of a website developer as well. By running this you will know what attracts people and what not. This should point a developer into the right direction with regards to what should be put in more prominent places, or maybe even certain things that should be left out of a design. I am going to download now and install as soon as I have a bit of time to spend on it.

  • @Lyndi

    I suspected it might interest you.

    By the way in context of WordPress it could use some additional coding to separate different kinds of pages from each other. I was too lazy to add PHP into tracking code but I think it might be done nicely (hint). :)

  • Great find dude. and the nice thing is its free. :) heat maps are always useful but most of them are paid service

  • @Melvin

    Glad you like it. :) Yeah, I wish free mainstream analytics paid more attention to heat maps. Google Analytica has something like that but it’s far from good.

  • nice find bro but I’d also recommend using Google Analytics’ Site Overlay features with this.

    And if you want to analyze heatmaps in general, google for EyeTrack III report. Must read if you are designing template for your website.

  • @Whibb

    As above – I don’t like how that feature works in GA.

    Yeah, read that report. I don’t think it should be blindly followed (studies and real visitors are slightly different thigns after all) but interesting info. :)

    Link by the way:
    http://www.poynterextra.org/eyetrack2004/main.htm

  • Great one Rarst..i saw some of the tools like this,but as you said they are costing.

    I’ll give it try now.Thanks for sharing this man..really i love this.

  • @Lax

    Always glad to share quality freebie software. :)

  • Great info. Thank you very much rarst. This will really help analyze my blog and also improve it.

    Thanks again.

    One question. Have you checked about the speed/loading of the website? Is this working properly with WP Super Cache plugin?

  • @Nihar

    Glad you liked it. :) I hadn’t tested but I it should work with WP Super Cache, ClickHeat uses JAvaScript so doesn’t really care is page dynamic/cached/whatever.

  • Great Post.

    Heat maps are great tools for every webmaster as you can see what the visiters fin interesting and what they click on and where they click.

    Very Very handy.

  • @Teen Blogger

    Glad you like it and good luck with analytics if you want to implement those.

  • Does this tool gives visual results?

Comments are closed.