7 Incredibly Useful Tools for Evaluating a Web Design

Apr 20 2008 by Jacob Gube | 88 Comments

leadin - analyticsAn effective web design is one in which your users are able to find information quickly and in a logical fashion.

Do they visit the content you want them to visit? Are they looking in the right places of your web page? Are you able to keep your user’s attention, or do they just leave quickly?

It’s not just about the content either. If your design loads slowly – or if moving from one section to another takes a long time – it affects the user’s experience.

These things can be the make-or-break factors between a user clicking on a link to find more information, or the back button to find it elsewhere.

Some things to consider:

  • Are important information being seen by the user?
  • Are the navigation and action items intuitive?
  • Is the user being directed to sections in a logical manner?
  • Does the web page load quickly enough to not turn away the user?

If you’re interested in analyzing and optimizing your page layout – here’s some extremely useful tools that you can use to help.

1. ClickHeat

ClickHeat is an open source visual tool for showing “hot” and “cold” zones of a web page. It allows you to see which spots users click on most, and which spots are being ignored.

ClickHeat - Demonstration screenshot

It’s very easy to implement on your website, you only have to include an external JavaScript file.

Download: Clickheat on SourceForge.net.

2. Crazy Egg

Crazy Egg offers a myriad of analytical tools to help you visualize what visitors are doing.

Crazy Egg - Screenshot of confetti overlay

Features include: Confetti - allowing you to see what people are clicking on based on certain factors such as their operating system and where they came from, Overlay – providing you with tons of data about particular links, and Report sharing – enabling you to share the data with team members and clients.

The free version only allows 4 pages to be tracked – so use your top landing pages to get the most data.

3. YSlow for Firebug

A key tenet of a strong design is that, not only should information be presented in a logical and elegant fashion, but that it must also be served quickly, with very little delay.

YSlow for Firebug - Performance Grade and breakdown of Yahoo! homepage

YSlow for Firebug is a free tool for Mozilla Firefox that gives you information about your front-end design to see if it performs well. It gives you a letter grade (A through F) and outlines your web page’s trouble spots.

It’s based on the Yahoo! Developer Network’s “Best Practices for Speeding Up Your Web Site” initially written by Steve Souders, who was once the Chief of Performance at Yahoo! and is now working over at Google on web performance and open source initiatives.

Downloads: Firebug extension for Firefox (required) and YSlow.

4. clickdensity

clickdensity is a full suite of usability analysis tools that will help you assess your web page design.

clickdensity - screenshot of hover map

You can use heat maps showing where users click on the most, hover maps – which shows people scrolling over links but not clicking on them, and A/B Tests which allows you to change certain page elements to see which style is more effective.

The free subscription give you 5,000 clicks and only one page and one site to monitor.

5. ClickTale

ClickTale offers a lot of user data pertaining to how visitors use your website.

ClickTale - Heat map

There are plenty of things you can look at such as average time it takes for a user to click on a link, a user’s hesitation on clicking a link, hover to click ratio, and much more. It also provides detailed reports and charts on your users’ monitor sizes to better optimize your web page design to cater for the typical visitor.

6. Clicky

Perhaps the most interesting feature that Clicky has is its real-time tracking and monitoring feature, called Spy (check out the demo here).

Clicky - Spy Data

Besides Spy, there’s a host of other analytics data you can look at such as user Actions – which records click data from your users and Visitors – providing you user data.

7. Google Analytics

One of the best free services that Google offers is Google Analytics and probably the most well-known analytics tool. It’s incredibly easy to install and offers plenty of user and content data to help you learn more about your web pages’ performance.

Google Analytics - Site Overlay feature

It has a feature called Site Overlay, which gives you a visual representation of the popular places your users like to click on. It also offers data on bounce rates and your top exit pages (to see what pages make users leave).

So there they are, some of the best tools in the market to help you troubleshoot and optimize your page layout. In the end, it’s a combination of great content, as well as how you present this content — that will lead to an effective design.

88 Comments

Almakos

April 21st, 2008

Amazing. I didn’t know such tools exist. especially for free.
Thanks!

Ed

April 21st, 2008

Nice article, I princpally use Analytics, Clicky and Statcounter. I’ve also used reinvigorate (http://www.reinvigorate.net/) in the past who also have a nice real time desktop application you can install and it can trigger a “chi-ching” sound on your desktop when you make a sale – nice :)

I’m gonna check out clickheat though – looks nice

Nate

April 21st, 2008

Good list. I personally run heat click on my sever with php my visits. It’s good to see where people are trying to click on my site for navigation.

AndyEd

April 21st, 2008

You might also appreciate Stomper Scrutinizer — it’s a vision simulation embedded in a browser to help raise consciousness on the impact of design and even to conduct usability evaluations.

http://about.stompernet.com/scrutinizer/learnmore

Carlo of 77Lab

April 21st, 2008

Great Post Jacob!
ClickHeat is amazing!

Tony Chester

April 21st, 2008

Nice list here. We used to use Crazy Egg quite a bit but it started acting all wonky for about a week so we pulled it. This was about two or three months ago and it mainly was taking forever to load; therefore the page would never finish loading. Maybe we will revisit them again.

Copes Flavio

April 21st, 2008

Very nice list list, I especially like Crazy Egg :)

Pagealizer

April 21st, 2008

For landing page metrics try http://www.pagealizer.com/
Pagealizer helps site owners get insight on how powerful their site content is. We show you in great detail how long people stay on your page (effective bounce rate), how far they scrolled down the page and where they clicked.

Jacob Gube

April 21st, 2008

@Pagealizer – that’s a spiffy app.

For those interested, check out the demo page here: http://www.pagealizer.com/?page=report&type=demo

The free version looks very generous too… you get all the analytical data, the only limitations are: 200 clicks are tracked and no SSL support.

Thank you for sharing!

Josh Mock

April 21st, 2008

I’ve tried almost all of those tools at one time or another and would say that Google Analytics, CrazyEgg and YSlow have been the three that stand out even among these.

elamb

April 21st, 2008

Swizzle fa Shizzle, my nizzle.

Dan

April 21st, 2008

Great set of tools… YSlow is great and ClickHeat produces interesting results… Google Analytics is a must have for my business – Thanks!

Acronyms

April 22nd, 2008

I’m already using Crazy Egg, YSlow and Analytics. Thanks for the rest.

Alexei

April 22nd, 2008

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! :-)
now using in Russia too!

Elijah

April 22nd, 2008

Goodness I wasn’t aware of that site analyzer from analytics, thank you!

Rajasekaran

April 22nd, 2008

Wonderful lists for site monitoring tools but you missed to list another great tool at http://sitemeter.com which shows the statistics very good.

http://filmreviews1.blogspot.com

sksee82

April 22nd, 2008

This is an excellent article. Kudos for compiling these tool and providing a brief yet easy to understand explanation.

cchana

April 22nd, 2008

some very useful tools, especially yslow, which i hope will help to improve the performance of a few sites i’m working on!

Tim Igoe

April 22nd, 2008

Cool selection of tools – Its very useful to see where users are clicking on your sites :)

ncdeveloper

April 22nd, 2008

Crazy Egg is NOT for a production website by any means. I use it for the EPA websites and while it looks nice and flashy, it is not accurate at all after a few weeks. The counts just seem to go loopy after a few weeks. Support is just as weak. Every time I called, it sounded as if I woke the guy up or pulled him away from a tv show. Obviously a small company that was unprepared for moderate to high volume. If you have clients that want a real and accurate heatmap, look elswhere.

JB1ker

April 22nd, 2008

YSLOW rules

doodigger

April 22nd, 2008

Thanks for the education! Sooo much to learn!

deelirium

April 22nd, 2008

Clicky is amazing! I’ve also gotten a kick out of Robot Replay http://www.robotreplay.com

It records your visitors actual cursor movements so you can replay them and see how they are viewing the page. Creepy, but fun nonetheless.

rpgchat

April 22nd, 2008

Great tips! Thanks a ton, I hadn’t used YSLOW before…

Jacob Gube

April 22nd, 2008

@deelirium: Awesome share. The cool feature with RobotReplay is the “Form Replay” feature, which provides you data on how users fill out your web forms. Here’s the direct link to the video demonstration of Form Replay:
http://www.youtube.com/v/49vLlHX-x8M

It’s free, but I haven’t tried it out yet.

UPickReviews

April 22nd, 2008

Ok, I must say you rock!
Great tools.. I love Click Heat, its opensource… First time I’ve ever seen a tool like this as an open source. Great stuff!

Graphic Design News

April 22nd, 2008

great list, I wanna test out Click Tale I’ve heard a lot about it.

Justin

April 22nd, 2008

Great set of tools. Ive used analytics but the click heat is a great open source tool.

jive

April 22nd, 2008

I’ll be using these tools very soon. Thanks for finding them out :)

Matt

April 22nd, 2008

I’ve used Anayltics, and Clicky before, but none of the others. Clickheat looks promising so far. Easy to integrate into Drupal with the module. http://drupal.org/project/click_heatmap

Jacob Gube

April 22nd, 2008

@Graphic Design News: Hey Gino, thanks for dropping by, and I like the new look of youthedesigner.com.

@Tony Chester and ncdeveloper: Thanks for sharing your experiences with Crazy Egg. I tested the application on Six Revisions, and from my (albeit brief) testing it worked well.

Patrick

April 23rd, 2008

Has anybody else had problems with Crazyegg’s system being down? We use to use the paid service but had to rip the code off of our pages as it would prevent our pages from loading when Crazyegg was having problems.

Thanks.

Kim

April 23rd, 2008

I use Statcounter because it is free and very easy.

Chris

April 23rd, 2008

That clickheat and yslow tool looks amazingly cool.

marianna

April 24th, 2008

I tried “crazy egg” to my blog and I found the interface of the reports / results user – friendly and easy to use. I like the fact that it has different options as confetti and heatmap to view where the users are mainly focus.
Thanks for the nice evaluation tools!!!

SivaramanB

April 24th, 2008

With these tools interaction with static files is increased.It helps to explore more with out hard modification.It helps lot.

Matt

April 26th, 2008

I’ve tried a few of these out and only problem I’ve had is, at least for me, CrazyEgg has slowed my site down in terms of load time. Firefox sits there with “Transferring from CrazyEgg.com” or whatever for almost a minute. Anyone else had this problem?

Jacob Gube

April 26th, 2008

Looks like CrazyEgg, for the most part, is giving people problems. Thank you all for sharing your experiences. I visited their site about a couple of days ago and it timed out.

The one advantage of CrazyEgg that attracted me the most is their visualization reports; they are extremely eye-catching and easy to understand. As such, they’re perfect for presentations — for example, when you’re pitching to a new client or meeting with an existing one.

Erika

April 27th, 2008

Now, I must say that I was five minutes away from paying for the same type of services that ClickHeat provides…. so I’m glad I saw this site before I placed my order! Thanks a ton!

Matt

April 29th, 2008

CrazyEgg had some nice tools indeed, I hope they fix their server/speed issues in the future so I can make better use of them. The one out of this list I am most happy with is ClickHeat, mostly because its a local file. I’d already been using Analytics. Clicky was also fairly decent, although not much information concerning web design, more about the visitors in general.

Marc

April 30th, 2008

i have tried the heat maps from clickheat and crazyegg and they both are highly useful in conjunction with a standard analytics program like google analytics or webtrends

the bit analytics companies are dropping the ball with heatmap charting

Web Design Cambridge

May 3rd, 2008

Great tools…if I may add one I personally love:
http://www.statcounter.com

Fun Quizzes

May 4th, 2008

Holy cow click heat is great for my ad placement I really appreciate the reco’s

website design

May 5th, 2008

some very useful tools, especially yslow, which i hope will help to improve the performance of a few sites i’m working on!

shook_1

May 15th, 2008

You forgot Web Developer Plug-in for Firefox browser

hdr

May 18th, 2008

Wonderful list!

d3str03R

June 7th, 2008

Huur! This is wonderful listing.

James Alexander

June 11th, 2008

Highly informative post. Looking forward to testing some of the analytics software. May come back on “Fashion versus Focus” if relevent. Thank Rev. J. Smith (of Hacking Christianity) for the tip via Entrecard. ps I have no intention of indulging in religious warfare).

Cheers

JA.

Nash

June 15th, 2008

Google Analytics is the best. The report is delivered by email, no need to login to Google.

danglingwrangler

June 19th, 2008

Gratifying list – Jaocob. Used many mentioned, but your insight and viewer comments make your site a frequent visit.

Share what you know… learn what you don’t

Danhbaweb20.com

July 2nd, 2008

Great link ! Thanks so much

SEO Honolulu

August 2nd, 2008

Fantastic list. 2 other sites well worth mentioning would be the analytics package from http://www.compete.com which is pretty thorough in detailing site activity, and also, for those who like to analyze long tail keyword data there would be http://www.hittail.com to handle that.

Great stuff, keep up the great work :D

Matt

August 3rd, 2008

Google’s Website Optimizer belongs on your list, utilizing A/B-testing or multivariate testing is a great way to test, compare and refine your content or design.

Samwel

August 11th, 2008

Try http://www.populatetheweb.com free download in order to monitor web traffic in realtime by sound.

securecyber

August 27th, 2008

I love Hitmap and now testing ClickTale.

We use the WebStatsAdvisor service for all analytics. It is simple, comprehensive, delivers the data on your own schedule, and the data is really meaningful instead of some numbers that in most of the cases have no value but the general statistics. Looking at weekly reports, I see where we have to improve the SEO and where the improvements work. If you are intersted:
http://www.rtek2000.com/WebStatsAdvisor.html
Yes, it costs a couple of bucks per month but well worth our spending. I use about 10 other free (and not so) services but stopped on this one. We also installed in for several of our clients.

After all, the best method to evaluate the web design is customers’ opinion. Sometimes, you get the opinions about the part of design that you even didn’t think about…

Coby

September 7th, 2008

I’m wondering if anybody knows whether or not you can use more than one of these tools on your site effectively, without creating any conflicts. Most of these analytics tools will state that their tool should be the only one used on a given website, or else there could be javascript conflicts or whatever. I’m just wondering if anybody uses a combination of these tools and if they’ve run into any problems doing that. It would be interesting to see the differences between statistics provided by one tool compared with another. If anybody has any knowledge on the topic, please share it with the rest of us. Thanks!

Olaf Nöhring

September 8th, 2008

I suggest for user tracking to look at tracewatch (free!):
http://tracewatch.com

Patricia

September 8th, 2008

Great list. Also take a look at http://www.crowdscience.com/ Free and paid stats for your site. I haven’t tried it yet but it sounds like a great tool.

Filmfront: Film, TV & Kino

September 12th, 2008

great job! really usefull stuff!

Carrie

September 22nd, 2008

Great info, and love Google Analytics!

Alex Centeno

September 27th, 2008

We use Google Analytics for all of our clients and have used a couple others in this list. Sometimes I feel that the information from CrazyEgg is not that accurate anymore…

Alex_

Eric

October 1st, 2008

Google analytics is a pretty good tool. I setup Clicky the other day and think it is a really good tool. You can easily see what path a user has taken.

I am not that fond of crazy egg. Used it in the past and you can only use it to track a few pages at a time.

Great Article!

Goldie

November 2nd, 2008

These are some great tools! I probably use around 4 of them on a regular basis, v.good post.

WP King

November 2nd, 2008

I think the crazy egg tool is a great idea! Looking forward to trying some of these out.

Webmasterkit.info

November 9th, 2008

Don’t forget the fantastic Woopra (woopra.com) which let’s you (among a million othere things) watch your visitors’ actions live, as they click around your site

Gazikent

November 11th, 2008

great list, I wanna test out Click Tale I’ve heard a lot about it.

מדריך

November 29th, 2008

Useful Tools for Evaluating a Web Design
great list,i think i will use it

thanks

Dani

January 7th, 2009

ClickTale provides so much more than what is written… you can get real videos of users browsing your site, form analytics, attention heatmaps, etc

Mikko

January 8th, 2009

So cool applications, thanks a lot for this article!

Anonymous

February 25th, 2009

Great tips and tools, Thanks.

Altın Fiyatları

May 2nd, 2009

Google Analytics is the best. The report is delivered by email, no need to login to Google.

Posicionamiento Natural

May 18th, 2009

Thanks for the tools. Other tool is http://madridwebdesign.es/blog/2009/04/herramientas-posicionamiento-web/ for a Keyword Typo Generator, Enter a keyword or key-term into the box above and this tool will generate a list of suggestions for likely human-misspellings and typos.

Cheers

Jo

May 28th, 2009

Just Stumbled this site, great information, am going to subscribe to your feed

Bürostuhl

October 26th, 2009

I was searching for a crazyegg alternative, because they arent any free versions anymore. And Ive found it. Thank you

Guido Tapia

January 31st, 2010

Hi,

Great list, I’ve just created a new product similar to some of the ones above it has web site heat maps for clicks but also mouse activity. It has a few other modules you may be interested in also. Please have a look as the product is in limited release mode and would love feedback at this early stage.

http://www.picnet.com.au/MET/

Thanks

Guido Tapia

valeraz

March 17th, 2010

Thanks Jacob for useful list.

Jason

April 25th, 2010

Some useful Tools for Evaluating a Web Design. Thanks for the list

Mouseflow

May 3rd, 2010

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.

ozan

July 12th, 2010

And Ive found it. Thank you

Sensei

July 13th, 2010

If you want heatmaps for mouse movements and clicks (plus a whole set of overlay based web analytics features), take a look at Overstat (www.overstat.com) where the entire product works as an overlay on your website, which makes it very user-friendly.

Pixelbox

July 18th, 2010

Excellent Article, Added to favs, keep up the good work.

anime

October 9th, 2010

The most important for designing web templates and slicing of the design into html and css is Adobe photoshop.

Michael Gunner

January 7th, 2011

I signed up for a trial with Clickdensity but I find their reporting questionable. Additionally, their own data doesn’t even match up. It also doesn’t match up with the data of any other analytics tool.

Barry

March 25th, 2011

excellent. Thank you

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