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