Real-Time Web Analytics with Clicky

One of the most popular web analytics apps available right now is Google Analytics. While it has a powerful collection of features and capabilities, one of the features I wish it had most is live tracking. While I do care what happened yesterday, last week and during the month; I often times want to see what’s happening right now. I generally use bit.ly to track link traffic live, but that’s not a real solution.

Clicky, however, is a real solution; providing real-time analytics for your site. Real-time tracking could even be considered just the icing on the cake, considering Clicky offers enough additional features and options to make the competition hang their heads in shame. I’ll take a look at Clicky, it’s features and why it’s used by sites like Smashing Magazine and Mashable.

Free — or Paid?

First, you’re going to have to ask yourself whether or not you’re willing to pay for web analytics. Google has a way with spoiling us into a mentality that everything should be free, but sometimes things come at a price — especially when they come with many extra features the competition doesn’t offer.

If you’ve decided you’re not willing to pay for web analytics, Clicky does have a free plan and includes a 21 day trial of their Pro service. The free plan, however, just doesn’t compete with services like Google Analytics. You’re limited to one site tracking, 3,000 daily pageviews, a 30 day data history and it’s even ad-supported. While the first bits aren’t too terribly bad, ads from an analytics service is a deal-breaker in my mind (just in your control panel as far as I can tell).

Clicky Price Plans

Clicky Price Plans

There’s quite a few more features not supported by the free version too, which makes Clicky’s free plan seem valueless in comparison to a free — and widely used — service like Google Analytics. Stepping up to Clicky’s Blogger plan includes more of the features they’re enticing you with, and at $4.99 per month or $29.99 per year, it’s a pretty fair deal.

However, from my point of view, I wouldn’t think about jumping into Clicky at anything lower than a Pro plan; which is actually their most popular plan. You get all the extra little features like https tracking, alerts via email and Twitter, Twitter analytics (a great feature), etc. At $9.99 per month it’s not a bad deal but at $59.99 per year, I think it’s a great deal. You’re limited to 10 sites and 30,000 daily pageviews but if you’re getting that kind of traffic, it’s highly unlikely you’ll complain about the price.

So the Pro plan, in my opinion, is the base plan to go with when considering it against Google Analytics. So is $59.99 per year a cost you’re willing to pay vs a free Google Analytics? With real-time tracking, Twitter integration and tracking and a whole slew of additional features, I’d say so. In fact, Clicky says they have 50 reasons why you should pay for their service instead of going with a free one.

Services Comparison

Services Comparison

Registration

Getting signed up is pretty straight forward; just enter your basic information and you’re in. I really like sites that handle registration this way; no credit card required and it only takes a few seconds to get in and start testing things out.

Registration

Registration

Upon registration completion, you’re presented with your account Preferences page. Finish setting up your account settings and go grab your tracking code.

Preferences Page

Preferences Page

Tracking Code Installation

You might notice they add a little chicklet ad in the default tracking code, which I just removed (it’s used for referrals). They also offer https tracking code as well as non-JavaScript tracking code. If you’re using a blogging platform like TypePad or WordPress, there are integration options and instructions for all the major ones. I went ahead and installed the tracking code manually but as I’m running on WordPress, Clicky offers a plugin for easier installation.

Tracking Code

Tracking Code

As mentioned above and clarified in the comments below, the chicklet ad is a single line of HTML included with the tracking code that can just be removed without affecting the service. See Other Questions on their Technical page for more info. Please also note that the image within noscript tags is for tracking in the event a visitor has JavaScript turned off. The image will not display otherwise (and it’s invisible if it does) and is only for tracking purposes.

Analytics

Once you’ve installed your code, you should start getting analytics data within minutes. Heading over to my account’s home page, I can get an overview of analytics data. Notice the Visitors graph shows real-time tracking.

Home Page Overview

Home Page Overview

Visitors

To get more information on our visitors I’ll head over to the Visitors tab. From here I can see that one visitor using the ISP Cox Communications, performed seven actions. One visitor using American Express was referred via Google.com using the following search terms.

Visitors

Visitors

Clicking the “# action(s)” link will give you a breakdown of that user’s information and every action performed. The integration of Google Maps is a nice addition to easily see that user’s location.

Visitor Details

Visitor Details

Spy

If you’d like to see more interactive real-time analytics, visit the Spy page. From here we can see a full world map that includes the locations of current visitors along with visitor information such as what they’re viewing, system information, etc.

Spy Analytics Info

Spy Analytics Info

You can sort visitors by the content they’re viewing (to the right of the map), their country of origin, referrer, domain or search. In the list below the map (to the right) of recent visitors, you’ll also be able to see where they went after visiting your site (the small icon with right arrow).

I love that I can see an interactive, zoom-able map with visitor locations (includes a small popup for new visitors) and the current visitor count. I also love that the visitor information below the map includes icons for visitors’ country of origin map, OS and browser.

If you leave the Spy window open and navigate to other tabs in your browser, a live number will be displayed in your browser tab so you can easily keep an eye on the current number of visitors without keeping that page in full view.

Interface

Initially I didn’t like Clicky’s interface, and to some extent I still don’t. However, I am very used to Google Analytics and change can be uncomfortable. The more time I spent using Clicky’s interface, the more I liked it. The interface just seems easier and more intuitive to use, at least to me. There are some design elements though, that I do think need a few improvements. From analytics software though, that’s not really a big deal; plus, it’s not like it’s ugly or anything.

Customizable Dashboard

If you don’t quite like the information on your account dashboard, you can customize it. The customization includes some preferences options at the top and a modules section at the bottom. Just drag and drop any of the modules where you’d like them to appear in your dashboard.

Customize Dashboard Modules

Customize Dashboard Modules

Mobile

Mobile devices are all the rage these days and if you can’t access your analytics data via your mobile device, well, you’re behind on your game. Clicky has a dedicated iPhone interface provided via the web (no downloadable app). If you own a different mobile device, they also have a more generic version available as well.

iPhone Interface

iPhone Interface

Features

There are so many features provided by Clicky that aren’t provided by its competition that I couldn’t possibly get through them all in a review like this, but I can say it definitely seems like Clicky has the features I’ve been missing. I’m not a serious analytics guy, so I can imagine how these extra tools would be even more useful for those with a much heavier need for these analytics features.

Performance

I can’t say definitively what Clicky’s performance history is like or how their tracking code will effect the performance of your website, but I can say that clicking around in my account for awhile left me quite happy. The site was snappy and the analytics data came in fast, without a hitch. After adding the tracking code to my site, I didn’t notice a difference in site performance at all.

In comparison to Google Analytics, Clicky loaded a JavaScript file 4.56KB in size vs Google’s 23.51KB. Google’s tracking code took a total (on average) of 380ms to load, while Click’s only took a total (on average) of 180ms.

Not only is Clicky’s JavaScript download size significantly smaller, it loads faster too.

White Label

Something I didn’t mention originally that was brought up by a reader’s comment, was Clicky’s White Label feature.

With Clicky’s White Label service, you’re able to brand the analytics service and resell it to your customers at the price of your choice. The service is still hosted by Clicky but you’re able to use your own logo, company name, product name, domain name and CSS. If that’s not enough, they also provide an API that you can use to fully automate the registration process.

White Label Service

White Label Service

This is a really great service for businesses with existing customers where the business would like to provide those customers with web analytics easily. As a freelance web developer, even I would be very interested in using this service to provide custom branded analytics to my clients. It’s a really great idea and actually very affordable.

Final Thoughts

While I’ve grown accustomed to the idea of free web analytics, I’m not at all bothered by the fact that I’m going to have to pay to get the features I’ve wanted for a long time. Clicky does a great job of providing a quality service combined with a quality interface and incredibly strong selection of features. Real-time analytics data and Twitter integration is enough to get me to pull out my wallet, especially when it will only cost me $5 per month for a Pro plan (when paid in a full year).

It’s no wonder why many massive sites around the web use Clicky for their analytics software; it may not be free but it provides the features you can’t get for free right now on a quality built platform.

Who Uses Clicky

Who Uses Clicky

While I didn’t drill through the whole selection of Clicky’s features, I can definitely say I’ll be making the switch from Google Analytics. I think the interface could use a little design refinement but overall, I’m incredibly happy with the service. I would definitely like to hear what some analytics experts have to say though.

Rating

I’m giving Clicky a 9/10. If I could give them a 9.5/10, I probably would. However, I just don’t feel the web app is refined enough to justify a 10/10, as it’s clearly not perfect. It’s an amazing service, with a really nice web interface, but not what I think we can call perfect.


Summary

Clicky is a real time web analytics service with a full selection of features not offered by current competition.

9
  • http://hector-lee.com Hector Lee

    I installed the free plan for Clicky only to remove it in seconds as it created a ‘Get Clicky’ ad in the lower left corner of my website. Analytics should always be invisible, even if its a free plan.

    • http://www.servetechit.co.uk Mike Hayes

      This app doesn’t interest me much, however you surely knew about this prior to installing the Javascript?

      http://web.appstorm.cdn.plus.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/Plans.jpg

      Even from scanning through this article I noticed the free version had ads thrown in. Looks like GA is best for you :)

    • Sean

      As explained in our FAQ, the image is simply part of the HTML you paste onto your site, and can be easily removed by deleting the first line of the tracking code.

      • http://Web.AppStorm.net Jarel Remick

        I’ve added some additional clarification in the article. Thanks for commenting!

      • Nancy

        Clicky should just remove the line. Someone who doesn’t know will be very annoyed once it is installed and will give it up straight away. After installing another program, they are unlikely to re install Clickly even they later find out how to remove that stupid logo thing. It is only to their disadvantage to keep that line on the code. They could have two different codes for people to choose.

    • http://www.saspijkerman.com/ Stef Spijkerman

      I am extremely happy with this service.

      From the Common Question Page I see the following Question and Answer:

      Can I hide the GetClicky image on my web site?

      Yes. The tracking code you paste on your site is about 5 lines of code. The very first line is this image. Delete that first line and the tracking code will be invisible.

      Note that the last line is also an image, however, it is wrapped in a “noscript” tag which means a person’s browser will only “execute” it if javascript is disabled. This image is used to track your visitors who don’t have javascript. It is completely invisible in either case, so you should leave that one in tact.

      http://www.getclicky.com/help/technical

  • Sean

    Thanks for the great review!

  • http://human3rror.com John (Human3rror)

    not sure, but did you mention how cool the whitelabel is?

    • http://Web.AppStorm.net Jarel Remick

      I’ve added a mention of the White Label service. I did see that when reviewing but didn’t mention it; definitely worth mentioning! Thanks!

  • http://www.tylernichols.com Tyler

    I switched to using Clicky for all of my sites exclusively about two months ago. So far so good. The spy feature is addicting, being able to watch the path a visitor takes through your site in real-time.

  • http://opus.fm/ Jason

    We use Clicky on number of client sites, and they love it.

  • http://lickynee.com/ Nick

    I use the iPhone application Ego to track my stats from Google Analytics. Ego produces live results, maybe not within the minute, but within a few. Just thought I’d say that.

    That said, Clicky is incredibly useful, especially the “spy” feature. :)

  • http://www.todaysreformer.org Rob Lombardi

    Anyone try user.fly? It captures every single mouse movement and click. But they only provide for 100 captures per month, at $10 per month, so it’s a little limiting. But you can actually see exactly where people click and see if they are trying to click things that don’t work for them. I noticed that my RSS feed link wasn’t working because I watched someone click it multiple times, with the page just going back to the home page. So you can catch things that you might otherwise miss. You can also see if they are actually reading anything because you can see their scrolling. But if clicky tells you that they spent 5 minutes on a page, then it’s pretty obvious they are reading it. User.fly might be good for initial roll-out and testing and any updates or changes you make to the system; and clicky would be good for long term stats gathering.

    If you have a UI intensive site, user.fly is very useful. But if you just have a fairly simple, common navigation scheme, then clicky provides more than enough.

  • http://www.fishmemory.net fractalbit

    I just tried the pro version and i really like it. I am excited that you can easily feed it with things like the username of your visitors! I used footprintlive before this but it was very basic. I will probably buy the pro version when the trial expires.

  • Ray

    These are great tools, i personally use clicktale which has the best of the bunch in my opinion. Its heatmaps are second to none.

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  • http://www.davidedicillo.com Davide Di Cillo

    I use the pro version and I love it. The spy view is really useful nowadays with all the real time networking tools.

  • http://www.egoant.com/ Aaron (EgoAnt)

    I really like Clicky, especially for doing user testing on Flash games I am working on. I did a tutorial on it here- http://bit.ly/GettingClicky

    Overall I am really impressed with the service. The Spy mode is great, it’s fun to watch it light up after you tweet a new blog post.

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  • http://www.divisionbyzero.co.uk Jonathan

    If you use adwords (and let’s face it, if you’re a business then you have to) then there’s no alternative to GA. Sad but true.

  • http://www.itxgamer.com Steve

    I realize this is an older post, but I’ve just discovered clicky. I signed up for the free account and within the week I’ve already decided that I’ll be paying for the Pro service. The interface is slick and clicky gives me all of the data I want with more detail than GA.

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