Heatmap, Hot or Not? Free Alternatives for Crazy Egg

9 mins read

Heatmaps are graphical overlays of your website which points out what content is hot and what not. This is mainly done by tracking the mouseclicks of the visitor. A more expensive model uses eyetracking to achieve this overlay (for more informationon eye-tracking, visit the blog of Markus Weber). Although the results look the same, the two options are somewhat different.

The click-heatmap makes it possible to analyse the clicking behaviour of the visitor while the eyetracking-heatmap shows you where people actual look on your webpage.

So what can you do with a heatmap? It gives you the opportunity to look through the eyes of your visitors as they navigate on your website. For example: The heatmap shows that your advertisement is easily overlooked. Possible reasons: wrong colour, close to big images which capture more attention, … Just give the ads a more prominent place and see if the visitors pick up on this. If you have dynamic content, it is a bit more difficult to take the full advantage of heatmaps (people click on different places if content changes). Instead of posting an article every day, you can consider doing so every week (or longer if you want to test longer).

I came up with this post because I was looking for an alternative for the site-overlay provided by google analytics. It’s not that this tool is useless, on the contrary, but the grass might be greener on the other side.

Crazy Egg

The first one I came across was Crazy Egg. A while ago this was a free service, but that’s not longer the case. They have various payment-options and if you have a look at the demo, you’ll notice that 9$ a month is not that much. If you prefer to have a free alternative for Crazy egg, you can just keep on reading…

crazyegg

Feng-Gui

A second heatmap is provided by Feng-Gui, which has a free service for simple heatmaps. Feng-Gui (so they claim) forsees human’s attention and attraction, simply by uploading a screenshot. This method doesn’t track any mouseclicks but the heatmap is generated by an algorithm, which is fabricated by the results of numerous neurologic studies. To make sure this algorithm stays intact, Feng-Gui compares the results with actual eye-tracking methods. Personally I think these results are based too much on assumptions instead of bulletproof evidence. Although the algorithm is constantly checked, changes can be made by the smallest detail. For example, what about people who read from right to left? They see your website completely different than you. One other point: you can only upload one screen shot every 5 hours when using the free version.

feng

WordPress plugin #1

If you are using wordpress, maybe you can have a look at this wordpress plugin as well. After installing and activating the plugin, it starts to register mouseclicks. It is possible to generate heatmaps for every page and with a handy datepicker you can easily go back in time. You can set the time limit and memory in the provided php. Although this plugin is a good way to get started with heatmaps it doesn’t offer the possibility to generate weekly/monthly summaries, which makes testing a bit difficult.

Clickheat

Another free heatmap comes from Labs Media and is called Clickheat. This open source application uses php and needs to be installed on your server. To make things easier, they developed Clickheat as a wordpress plugin as well. After several search strings into google I came across this article on heatmaps written by Matt Ridout and gave me some new insights of Labs Media. Apparently the plugin adds a little link into your webpages back to the website of Labs Media, which can conflict with some searchengines. It’s not difficult to remove the link, but I’m not really fond of this kind of strategy.

Labs Media

Corunet

The next free trackingsystem is called “The definite heatmap” by Corunet and is a “do it yourself solution”. Corunet gives you the opportunity to build your own heatmap, this way you have a better understanding how these programs work. For the lazy people among us: you can download all necessary files at the end of the tuturial. I will give this a try later on and will let you know the outcome.

Corunet. El Blog

Clickdensity

Although I’ve never used ClickDensity, I heard quiet a lot about this analytics tool. They offer a 30 day trail, in which you can fully test the functionalities. If people are using this package, please let me know. Because it got so many good reviews, I’ll be giving this tool a try as well. This is part of the latest update (see below)

Clickdensity

As mentioned before, heatmaps are better used on static websites than dynamic ones. The content on dynamic website is often changed (e.g. new posts/comments on blogs), this in contrast with the coordinates of the recorded clicks made by the visitors. This shouldn’t be a problem if you update your blog/website monthly and attract a serious amount of visitors.

Continue reading on the second page where you’ll find all the latest updates with the newest heatmap systems.

Pages: 1 2

About the author

I'm the creator and editor of paulolyslager.com, a blog about on Web Design, User Experience and Usability. Currently I'm working as UX Manager for a leading supplier of nutrients and supplements to the European market based in Berlin, Germany. Follow me @paulolyslager or google+.
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80 responses to “Heatmap, Hot or Not? Free Alternatives for Crazy Egg”

  1. gyo says

    Very accurate job!
    Another solution to avoid performance issues, could be to have a separate server just for heatmap.

    What do you think?

    P.S.
    I didn’t know CrazyEgg has got commercial, damn!


  2. If the cost-benefit ratio was ok, then this would be a great solution… but only for those websites which attract a lot of visitors. More visitors means more clicks to be recorded, so they would certainly benefit of a second server.

  3. dave says

    great post, thanks kindly


  4. You’re welcome Dave!

  5. Steve Mann says

    I am new to the world of web analytics and i think the functions are unbeleivable. I have an online private business and it has always been so frustrating to me how i could not observe the activity of my customers. I came accross ClickTale analytics on a similar blog and i tried out the free option offered and my eyes have been opened. I now feel confident to adjust my website according to the behaviour i can see in the videos and all the heatmaps. Its so simple and so effective, I wish i had found it earlier.


  6. @Steve Mann: Thank you for the comment Steve. Since a few weeks now I’ve been testing ClickTale as well. I’ll let you know my findings as well.


  7. Hi, I found your page when i was searching Google for sites related to this article. I have tell you, your site is good. I like the design too, its nice. I don’t have the time at the moment to fully read your website but I have noted it and I also registered for your RSS feed. I will be back in a day or two. Thanks for a great website.


  8. @ArticleDirectory: And thank you for the nice comment! Hopefully you like the rest of the website as well. :)

  9. Stuart says

    Love the list thanks so much.

    Regarding clickheat – I installed it on the checkout pages of a store to see how people used the page.

    A while later the site owner complained that when he viewed the checkout pages he got the IE ‘this page contains secure and insecure content’ error, and he worried that this was reducing the conversion rate. I checked and checked and checked again, and I couldn’t find any non-https images.

    Eventually I finally realised what was happening – it was the clickheat script that was the insecure content on the https page!


  10. @Stuart: Hi Stuart, nice to hear that you like this list and thanks for your interesting comment. I’ve been using Clickheat sporadically for a few months now (actually only used it to write this article and test it a bit) and I never crossed this IE error message before. The implemented code from Clickheat seems a bit aggressive and maybe a good thing to keep it out of the secure checkout pages. I can imagine that the CR dropped down a bit because of this message, but maybe you can switch to a less intrusive package.
    Although I find Clickheat’s system interesting (follow the mousemovements of the visitor), I prefer to use A/B testing in checkout pages to increase the CR.

  11. Jacob says

    Hi there,

    Interesting article. We have also created our own heatmap service at http://intuitionhq.com, and at $9 a test we think it’s very reasonably priced. We’ve designed it to be simple, quick and easy to use, and we think it works pretty well in that respect.

    If you’d like to give it a go, please email me back on this address, or contact us on twitter @intuitionhq – we’d happily set you up with some free tests if you’d like to have a play.

    Cheers!

  12. Lasse says

    You should try http://mouseflow.com that gives you heatmaps on mouse movements and clicks, but more importantly records whole visitor sessions (including mouse movements, clicks, scroll events and keystrokes) and lets you watch the whole thing in your browser.

    There are free plans as well as paid ones.


  13. @Jacob: Hi Jacob, thanks for the offer. You can expect an email from me :) !


  14. @Lasse: Hi Lasse, thanks for the great tip. I just subscribed myself to Mouseflow and I’m very curious for the result. I will update this article as soon as I have enough information.

  15. Julien says

    Love this article altough i havnt found any perfect solution as for now, wich would be Heatmap + a simple wordpress plugin + Free

    please keep this post updated !


  16. @Julien: Don’t you worry Julien, i’m working on an update of this post! I hope to finish this soon!

  17. Julien says

    Glad to read that :)


  18. This article has been updated on the 13th of May 2010. More information on its way!

  19. Jason says

    Thanks for the mention Paul, I notice you’re using Mouse Eye Tracking on this blog too. Let us know your feedback, we’re always looking to improve the product.

    We’ve also created a plugin that makes it easy to setup Mouse Eye Tracking on wordpress websites, see:

    http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/picnet-mouse-eye-tracking-service-plugin/


  20. @Paul Olyslager: @Paul, overall which of all these tools both the paid and free do you personally recommend and prefer?

    By the way great review


  21. @Owen McGab Enaohwo: Hi Owen and thank you for the reply. When I was doing the research for this article I had to know what Crazy Egg was all about in order to form a better opinion. I have to say that Crazy Egg is a very good heatmap system, but nothing more, noting less. For a paying alternative I would recommend Mouseflow because it gives you much more than a heatmap system. The live streaming is a very nice feature but it also provides you with plenty of statistics and a scroll heatmap. Don’t forget to retweet this article to get 500 free recordings :) .

    As for a free alternative, I would go with clickdensity. It is similar to Crazy Egg but doesn’t have the nice interface.

    I hope this will satisfy your question. If not, just ask!


  22. @Paul Olyslager: After reading your blog post and asking my previous question, I installed the free Picnet and in a couple of months I will be moving on to Mouseflow (which is subscription based). I even compare Mouseflow to Clicktales and I think Mouseflow provide more bang for less money.

  23. gerorge says

    Fantastic article. I have just install mouseflow. I was between mouseflow and clicktale but the price was the main reason i choose mouseflow. My main concern is security. I have install also the proxy.php file in order to track shopping cart etc. How secure is this? Any ideas?

  24. Lasse Schou says

    @gerorge: Hi, if your website is running SSL, all data transmitted to Mouseflow is also encrypted. You can even adjust the php proxy script so that it sends data to https://… instead of http://.

    If you’re not using SSL then all data is transmitted unencrypted across the network, including the compressed mouseflow data.

    If you want more information about Mouseflow security, feel free to post specific questions.

    Lasse


  25. @Lasse Schou: Thanks Lasse for the useful info, I couldn’t do a better job. I’m sure @gerorge could use it.


  26. Thanks for this article, i will try clickdensity and mouseflow… i’ve already running on clickheat…


  27. I love the mouseflow idea, it is combination of clickheat (http://www.labsmedia.com/clickheat/index.html) and clixpy (http://clixpy.com/)

    nicely put together, thanks Paul for sharing

  28. Ed says

    Does anyone know about the effects of using more than one of these services at the same time ?

    I’m checking out Clicktale, SeeVolution, and have a free one page from Crazy Egg.

    Is it a bad idea to have so many running ? Plus Google, Yahoo, etc. analytics ?

    Thanks,

    Ed


  29. @Ed: Hi Ed, at the time I was writing this post I had ClickTale, Crazy Egg, Mouseflow and Google Analytics running. It didn’t give me any script problems, just make sure that everything works smoothly before you install something else. Loading time could be affected.
    I hope this answers your question?

  30. Ed says

    @Paul Olyslager: Thanks so much Paul!

  31. Sammie Fields says

    Thanks for the article, twas very helpful.

    Clickheat has been reported to place hidden links on your website, and can cause your site to drop from google rankings. Do a Google search on this, I’ve already found a few articles warning people of this.

    I’ve tried mouseflow. Despite giving you an aesthetically pleasing heatmap, the states are extremely misleading and unreliable. I don’t advise it at all.

    Clickdensity is crap.

    Clicktale is amazing! Tis hands-down the best, but bloody expensive.

    I’ve tried picnet before with poor results, but have just decided to give it a second go.

    Another one to add to the list is Seevolution, which is new and free at the moment. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to get it to work properly on my site yet, but I’ll see how things go. (The support team is very helpful btw, but they don’t work weekends :( )


  32. @Sammie Fields: Hi Sammie, thank you for your roundup. Please let uw know when you have some results of Seevolution (if you can get it to work that is)!

  33. Kalvster says

    Here’s a guide to implementing ClickHeat to wordpress: http://www.kalvster.com/web/clickheat-wordpress-crazyegg.html


  34. @Sammie Fields: Hi Sammie, could you please elaborate on the misleading and unreliable heatmaps? I’m thinking that you might have a centered website, but haven’t set the alignment and width in the Mouseflow control panel. This may lead to displaced heatmaps. Unfortunately Mouseflow cannot automatically detect the alignment and width of the website.

    Lasse / Mouseflow

  35. George says

    Hello,

    I totally recommend mouseflow. This real time recording is an amazing feature and gives you real feedback from your visitors. It doesn’t support google maps and a couple of tiny things beacause it’s within other iframes etc. but that’s fair enough. I tried also Seevolution which seems promising but it’s not as helpful as mouseflow can be. It’s exactly what I was looking for. Thanks for the article.

    Cheers, George


  36. @George: Hi George, thanks for the reply. It looks like I have to try Seevolution as well then ! Thanks for the tip.

  37. Peter Jones says

    Hi,

    Just wanted to say that this is an awesome post! Especially the new 2010 entries. Nice work my friend.

    cheers
    Peter

  38. Paul G says

    Great article, I’m going to link to it from my website, hope that’s ok.

  39. Pascal says

    Good article – don’t forget about Clickmap (english version available at http://www.clickmap.ch/en).

    Clickmap offers real-time and inplace Usability Analytics with Heat-, Click- and Foldmaps. Over 20 segmentation filters let you analyze everything from Google search terms to Social Media Marketing. You can track dynamic websites aswell, and don’t worry about your web layout (centered, fluid etc.)… Clickmap takes care of that!

    Cheers
    Pascal

  40. Jan Flora says

    Hi Paul,

    Here’s another heatmap tool for you: EhaviorClick™

    Ehavior gives you the first 2000 clicks for free so that you can try it out and be convinced.

    One of our products prime features is the integration with your Google Analytics account. This allows you to segment your click data by every advanced Google Analytics segment.
    Some examples of use are:
    - Evaluate paid (SEM) clicks against non-paid (organic) clicks.
    - See where visitors that purchased from you clicked. See where those that did not purchase anything clicked.
    - Evaluate new vs. returning visitors.

    The only limitation is your imagination (and the data available in your Google Analytics account :-))…


  41. Thanks for keeping this article updated. I use WordPress and find it seems to have a plugin for almost anything you can think of. These will definitely help me to improve my own website conversions and will be a good addition to my tool kit. Thanks

  42. 40-02 says

    Try metrika.yandex.com. It is simple and powerful free web analytycs service from Russian Search Engine

    It has heat maps, records of coursir moves and other staff.

  43. Viet Hai says

    Thanks for your information. I’ve double-checked and totally remove ClickHeat from my site. So a dirty trick.

  44. Kevin says

    Hi Paul,

    Take a look at http://www.sessioncam.com – it provides great heatmaps for mouse movement, clicks, page scrolling and attention.

    The heatmaps can be filtered so you can drill down to specific segments of interest.

    SessionCam also provides a session replay tool so you can watch the recorded activity of visitors as well.

    SessionCam offers a free as well as paid plan.


  45. Hi Kevin,

    thanks for letting me know. I think it’s about time for an update since so many new heatmap systems have found daylight. Stay tuned!

  46. Lucre Bem says

    I’m just wondering what free means to you, as all the tools I’ve tested were Free Trial or paid, not Free Tools actually.


  47. Hi Lucre,

    thank you for your comment. This article has been written a while ago, so some heatmap applications might have changed their payment options. I will give you a quick overview:

    - Feng-Gui is not longer a free service, as stated in the article. Minimum of $2,5 per image.
    - The first heatmap WordPress-plugin hasn’t been updated in over 2 years, so I wouldn’t use it anymore.
    - Clickheat and Corunet are OpenSource software and free of charge.
    - ClickDensity offers a free trail of 30 days.
    - Mouseflow has changed their payment options, with €10/month and 30 day money back guarantee.
    - Picnet only has a free demo, which was mentioned in the original article.
    - Patrick Wied’s heatmap system is an OpenSource JavaScript library and free of charge.

    I hope this list answered your question a bit. At the moment I’m working on a new list, which will include both free and paying services.

  48. James B says

    Check out experiment.ly – it’s Free!


  49. Thanks so much for the information. I have been browsing around looking for different options aside from CrazyEgg.

    Happy Blogging :)

  50. WebMeUp says

    Ha-ha, I was just about to say that MouseFlow was missing from the list, when I saw there was actually a second page to this post.

    Great job, Paul, a really priceless roundup for anyone looking for click tracking software.

    I would like to point out that we found Corunet to be a useful solution at some point. It’s pretty flexible, but perhaps it takes a tech savvy person to implement.

    Best,
    Susan of WebMeUp.Com

  51. Ellen L. says

    Thanks Paul, you did a really great job here!
    I personally use a killer combination of Mouseflow and Website Auditor for my projects.
    First I polish up all on-site optimization aspects, like duplicate content, broken links, code errors, robot.txt, XML sitemap, plus analyze page elements where keywords can be strategically placed (title, headings, ALT text, meta tags)in WebSite Auditor. And then I use Mouseflow do check how fixing on-page issues impacts user behavior. This works all the way around too: if I discover that there are usability problems on site – and this is something MouseFlow is excellent at – I do use WebSite Auditor again to fix them out.


  52. This is a great list, although some of these tools are no longer free.
    You might also want to take a look at Click Tracking tool available on UsabilityTools http://usabilitytools.com/tools/click-tracking/#tool-description

    There is a free trial option that allows to test up to for 10 000 pages for free. This particular tool have several benefits that are usually not available in other platforms, including heatmaps for dynamic website elements.

  53. Rob says

    Hi Paul, I just launched http://heatmap.ca (August 7th, 2013) and it’s 100% Free.

    It generates Click Heatmaps and offers Click and Tap Playback! It works with Fluid layouts so it will playback a user session if they are on a Mobile device or desktop computer. If you have media queries that change the layout on the page, when a mobile device hits it, we have a feature where you can enable Dynamic Content on the page and then apply the Heatmap or Play user sessions to reveal hot points on the dynamic elements! Playback of sessions overlays an optional path with arrows (click 1,2,3 etc). There is even an instant playback speed. The Dashboard runs on your site and works on a Smart Phone or Desktop computer. At heatmap.ca there is a page of visual analytics including clicks by Country, State, City, Time of Day, Day of week, Tablets, Phones, etc.

    This is not a limited tool…you get 500,000 clicks per month, Unlimited Views, you can monitor 100 pages per month across multiple domains.

    On a personal note, I thought it was about time this type of service was available to all small to medium sized businesses as a free service. I am giving something back to the community. Enjoy!

    Rob
    I welcome your feedback and if you have any questions, let me know.

  54. Emilly says

    You need consider http://www.mousestats.com/ in this comparison.


  55. Hotspots User Tracker is a free WordPress plugin which provides heat maps for mouse clicks and touch screen taps. It also caters for responsive web design, difference devices and zoom levels. It’s free, no signup required. All of the data is stored locally in your database.

    http://wordpress.org/plugins/hotspots/

    Daniel.

  56. Shahram says

    This is a great list. I would like to add our website to this list: http://www.gazehub.com

    Shahram

  57. saul says

    Paul,

    What are your thoughts on the best methods of analyzing heat map/click map results writing a synopsis of them? I currently use CrazyEgg.

  58. Juan says

    I want to try it now


  59. Hi,

    I used inspectlet.com for heatmap and wepify.com for CMS and they both works great! They have free plan.

    Cheers

  60. David says

    This is a new software that allows you to have a clear picture of your site. Includes heat maps, exit polls and feedback, online surveys, analysis of funnels and many other features.
    It is the most complete tool of its kind.
    Be sure to see it, because they are in pre launch at an incredible Price or even free. http://www.hotjar.com/4652

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