Internet Microsoft Review

Review: Clicky web analytics for the rest of us?

Clicky, much like any other web analytics tool, I’m always intrigued to see what else can be done with the web traffic numbers. I know what I want to see and I know that I don’t always get that with a free product…

Clicky, much like any other web analytics tool, I’m always intrigued to see what else can be done with the web traffic numbers. I know what I want to see and I know that I don’t always get that with a free product…

When my clients ask me to tell them about their websites and how they’re performing, I do so from the point of view of people coming in, doing a bunch of stuff and then going somewhere else.

I can often show goals that have been carried through by the various visitors, but even that doesn’t tell the whole story.

I’d like to see which visitors from what geographic region, or from what type of computer did which particular thing – to tie the beginning to the middle and then to the end, to tell the whole story.

Now, I know there are web analytics applications that offer this, but I want this for free!

I know, I know, I need to get my priorities straight. But if the likes of Google can commit to ploughing their considerable resources into a web analytics package, and with Microsoft also due to follow suit with their own web analytics tool, why can’t they go that little further and give me something truly unique that adds value to what I offer my clients?

Let’s get Clicky!

Clicky first caught my eye a few weeks ago, around the time of it’s launch? I don’t know for sure. I’m feeling too lazy to check.

And I’m only writing this review tonight because my plans for this evening have been unceremoniously shot through the head, so there you go.

Anyway, I added Clicky to my account and promptly forgot about it, right up until yesterday, which brings us right up to date.

So what do Clicky have to say for themselves?

“Just Another Web Analyzer? No way. Existing solutions may provide a decent overall view of activity on your web site, but what if you wanted details on each and every visitor, to see where they came from, what pages they looked at, and how long they stuck around? Then you need Clicky!”

OK, well that’s a good start, ‘coz that’s pretty much what I’m looking for. I want the fine-grained approach to my web statistics.

Not all of the time, but it’s good to have around.

And it’s clear that the guys ‘n’ gals at Clicky have been thinking deeply about the broader ‘net population, by that I mean ‘bloggers as well as web marketeers and web designers & developers like me:

“It’s designed for blogs but works great with any web site. We of course provide beautiful and informative summaries, but we do a whole lot more as well.”

So the bar has been raised. In my mind, this has to be a product that serves the new ‘blogger and power web developer alike.

But is Clicky up to that? We shall see.

Clicky gets social

To my surprise, Clicky has a MyBlogLog Widget on the front page, which is unusual for what is essentially a commercial website.

It’s a shrewd move however, given that if Clicky is still new, and with them pitching squarely at the new ‘blogger, then being in the MyBlogLog mix won’t do them any harm.

Quite the opposite, I imagine.

Clicky do the obvious

Like any good “Web 2.0” outfit, the detail is in the simplicity, and right there, above the fold of the page are three big text buttons: “Learn More”, “Demo” and “Register”

Clicky do the obvious stuff by setting their stall out with a good FAQ found by clicking on the “Learn More” button.

Having skimmed through the FAQ, some features are mentioned, one of which being the fact that: “Clicky is the only analyzer on the planet that gives you web stats via RSS!”

I’m not sure what I think about that.

On the one hand, there are plenty of times when all I want is the numbers and nothing else. But then there’s the fact that I’m not going to get a whole lot of data or information (data and information not the same thing, guys!) from an RSS, so:

“There are several feeds available for any site you use with Clicky: daily summary (number of visitors and pageviews for day in progress last 2 days), visitors, incoming links, and recent searches.”

You need to have several separate RSS feeds to get at different data sets.

I suppose squeezing RSS in there somewhere seemed like the obvious thing to do, so you can’t blame them for that. Maybe the idea will grow on me over time.

Clicky looks ahead

There are some nice future features planned, like Trend Analysis:

“Looking at your dashboard one day, you may notice a huge spike in traffic. Clicky will attempt to figure out the cause. For example, if you had a post that made it to the front page of, it might say “” next to the graph,…”

Which is the kind of preemptive stuff that will appeal to a lot of people. However, actually getting a hit on Digg in the first place is a trick not best covered, but I digress.

Exporting your data is probably an unfortunate omission from version one of the self-proclaimed web analytics two point zero. That’s a feature to be found all over the place in Google Analytics.

Top marks for the mini ‘How To’ for the various ‘blogging platforms, including Google Blogger, TypePad, MySpace and WordPress.

In an instant

Where both Clicky and FeedBurner score major points over Google Analytics is in the real-time web statistics department.

If you’re a pro subscriber to MyBlogLog, you get real-time access to you web traffic statistics there, too.

Actually, while mentioning FeedBurner, it’s worth just pointing out the similarities (albeit superficial from a user interface point of view) between FeedBurner and Clicky.

However, after just reading through the marketing stuff for Clicky, they apparently have the edge in terms of actual analytics, and the fact that they’re offering a free service, that FeedBurner doesn’t, as far as I’m aware.

So when Clicky talk about real-time, they’re not kidding!

Clearly a very generous nod towards the Spy tool on Digg, the visitors to your website or ‘blog roll up down the window in .. yes, you guessed it, real time.

For the average ‘blogger, such a feature is of limited use, other than sapping the best part of a day out of pure novelty, right before you move onto something more productive.

Incidentally, on Safari for the Mac, it doesn’t seem to work quite right. The top most visitor doesn’t always come through right and gets stuck under the sort order header at the top.

Clicky numbers game

I’m skimming through the “Demo” web page, which seems to be the web traffic numbers for Clicky.

What I immediately noticed was the good use of the horizontal space. vertical menus are restricted to simply sorting the data rows, rather than actual navigable menus.

All of the navigation structure is in the form of a horizontal, hierarchical menu, which simplifies the process of navigation while keeping mouse movement down to a minimum.

You do get the option of navigating backwards through time via a small calendar, so you can look to historical data. However, there’s no option to perform an analysis on a date range, as you can with both FeedBurner and Google Analytics.

Sign up and Clicky with it

As well as asking for my current time zone, there’s also a check box which is pre-selected, the point of which is to filter out my current IP address. This is a very nice option.

It’s an option absent from FeedBurner but present in Google Analytics, but quite onerous if you’re no familiar with the near Regular Expression like syntax.

There’s also an optional check box to have your web statistics made public, which they recommend you don’t. So I kept my statistics private, which I had every intention of doing right from the offing.

However, there’s a good enough reason to have your web statistics made public:

“We recommend you keep your stats private, although this may be useful for negotiating advertising rates, or bragging rights amongst friends.”

So with regards to negotiating advertising rates, maybe a good future feature would be to have guest accounts for your web statistics. That way, you get to invite people in, rather than letting the whole world know.

The final step is to add in the lump of JavaScript tracking code into your website or ‘blog, which I did via my Blogger Dashboard.

But, what if…

It’s all good & well coming up with the bestest, niftiestest and down right coolest web analytics tool in the world, but what happens when people get stuck and stuff doesn’t work the way it should?

Inevitably, many of these new web services don’t give too much thought to their support obligations. And the same thing can be said of not only Clicky, but of both MyBlogLog and the new Explode social networking portal, too.

Just giving us an FAQ and an email address isn’t quite the scalable support option I’m looking for.

What now?

Well, I’ve added the code, so it’s a case of wait & see!

Stick around for the final installment of the Clicky review sometime either over the weekend, or maybe next week .. I think!

In the meantime, sign up for yourself, have a poke around and tell me what you think…

Recommended reading

By Wayne Smallman

Wayne is the man behind the Blah, Blah! Technology website, and the creator of the Under Cloud, a digital research assistant for journalists and academics.

7 replies on “Review: Clicky web analytics for the rest of us?”

Hello again Justin!

There’s some really nice features in Clicky,and for the new ‘blogger, it’s got plenty of power.

However, if you’re new to ‘blogging and you’re into tracking your news feeds, your money would be better spent with FeedBurner.

So in that sense, Clicky need to add much more value to their offering.

By the way: there’s a part two to this review…

Let me know when you get to part 2, I’d definitely be interested in seeing how well it works out for you.

I guess part of my concern is that using a free service is always risky when using the data for a “real” business, since they don’t owe you anything and could go down with your stats at any time.

I’ll probably use it as a “latent” source of stats, but have a paid or self-hosted package as well as reliable source if something went wrong with the likes of Clicky.

Thanks for the insights. We’ve been having problems with reporting accuracies of Google Analytics, specifically the platform’s inability to track any or owly links from twitter. Our numbers are off by 50% or more and I think we’re switching to Clicky since they do a better job integrating with Twitter.

Comments are closed.