Freewaregenius’ clickmaps analysis

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I recently used created clickmaps of my new Freewaregenius theme in order to shed light on what people were doing on my site. The results were very interesting to me and, I would imagine, they would be interesting to a lot of readers, especially those who have their own sites or blogs. I therefore created this post to share these clickmaps as well as some of the insights that came out of them.

Disclaimer: the tool used to create these clickmaps is not free, and therefore shall not be named. The original version of this posting did mention it but I have decided to remove it.

I will present two out of three clickmap options here: heamaps and confetti maps (which appear as little dots). I have decided not to post site overlay screenshots  (little bars next to links that represent the amount of clicking activity).

The confetti clickmaps are my favorite, as they can be really insightful, as are the heatmaps, but I don’t care much for site overlays (which are also supported in Google Analytics, btw, although generally speaking I would say the Google Analytics site overlays are crap).

Confetti-TopHeatmap-Top

The test:

  • I looked at the Freewaregenius home page only
  • Monitored 5001 visits which generated 1366 clicks on Jun 8th and 9th, 2009.
  • Important note: the current version of the tool used is not able to record clicks on some flash and Javascript elements on the page. Thus it did not record clicks on the “Featured Article” widget on top of the page, or the carousel next to it. It is also unable to record clicks on Google ads, on flash videos, or the “random posts” section in the bottom.

The clickmaps: entire-site JPEGS are too long for me to display in this blog posting without making the clickmaps very difficult to read. Therefore I am showing results for (a) top of the page, (b) middle of the page, and (c) bottom of the page seperately.

Top of page images: see above

Bottom of the page:

Confetti-BOTTOMHeatmap-BOTTOM

Middle of page:

Middle2

The findings: I’ll split these into three sections A/B/C

(A) Issues that I’d already suspected that the clickmaps confirmed:

  1. The searchbox on the top right is used heavily
  2. The numbered-page navigation near the bottom is used heavily
  3. The thumbnails (screenshots) in the first few postings are clicked heavily
  4. Thumbnails in general are clicked on heavily as the primary source of information, even in cases were the posts themselves are not clicked into.
  5. Posts that have a more general audience, such as games or email clients, get  alot more clicks than specialized posts (such as WinCdEMu, which didn’t get clicked on one time during the test period).

(B) Insights that are new or that I wasn’t paying attention to:

  1. Users click and interact with the tabs in the header under the logo much more than I thought they did. I am glad to see some clicks on the Sitemap; I didn’t think anybody went there.
  2. Users click on the “Freeware Top 20” tab like crazy.
  3. Posts near the top of the page and posts near the bottom are clicked on heavily. Posts in the middle are somewhat neglected or skipped over.
  4. The tabbed javascript widget in the sidebar (recent/most commended/recent comments), gets some good use, which is interesting to know.
  5. Browse by category: only 3 or 4 buttons in the black “browse by category” section are clicked on to any significant extent; Freewaregenius Picks, Games, and (possibly) Media players.
  6. “Click to read more”: the red link at the bottom of each posting is not clicked at all. Users prefer to click on the post title instead.
  7. Tag cloud: is very seldom clicked, although this may be due to its placement towards the end of the sidebar.
  8. Blogroll: the sites in my “favorite freeware sites” section are clicked on heavily. I am giving these guys some serious traffic.
  9. Lists in the footer: of the three lists in the footer (“Recent posts”, “Most commented”, and “Popular this month”), only the latter gets any clicks.

(C) My future plan of action:

  1. Making better use of the tabs in the header: I may add a second row of tabs and re-test to see how users react to that.
  2. Reducing the number of posts per page: given that the posts in the middle are generally overlooked, while the ones on top and bottom get clicked, I will reduce my current 13 posts per page to something that might reduce or eliminate the middle altogether.
  3. Freeware Top 20: I’ve decided to stop procrastinating and update the “Freeware Top 20” already (hopefully by next week). I always knew this was a popular page that needed to be updated, but seeing all the clicks in the confetti map put it in better persepctive relative to everything else on the page.
  4. Category navigation: the fact that categories are so seldom clicked on support an idea that I’d been wanting to implement for a long time, which is to reduce the categorization scheme to 8 or so basic categories with no subcategories.
  5. Blogroll/links: I will be updating my link exchange policy pretty soon (unless your site is highly trafficked or has a high Google rank, I will not accept link exchanges. However I will give a link in exchange for contributing content to this site, but I haven’t figured out the details yet).
  6. Tag cloud: seems to be completely useless. Am considering either removing the tag cloud and not bothering with tags, or creating a limited set of tags that may reduce the tag clutter. Do tags have any SEO value? If you know please share in the comments.
  7. Lists in the footer: I will consider removing the “Recent posts”, and “Most commented” lists and replace them with something that may be more interesting to the readers, such as an “about this blog” section with my picture in it, and/or a poll or something of the sorts.