Clicktracking VS Eyetracking

It’s a while since I’ve noticed a Web 2.0 application called Crazy Egg which will show you (for free!) were the users clicked on your page using eye tracking analysis derived graphics such as heatmaps and some brand new visualizations for the overlays (colophon: my employer sells eyetracking services).

Let’s take a deep breath and try to understand whether or not this amount of data could be useful “to improve the effectiveness of your web site”.

I’d say that if you’re a part-time blogger or run a small ezine this kind of data could be of some utility to you, but if you’re a serious web application developer/designer or want to test the usability of your company /client site interface well, this kind or data are more or less garbage.

I strongly disagree with what is being said by Nick in the Weareseencreative post on the subject : you should really care what your users are looking at, otherwise you won’t be able to understand (and thus fix) why they aren’t clicking on a particular link or button (BTW Nick, the Tobii eyetracking suite we’re use tracks also the users’ clicks).

Moreover the users’ interactions with a site/interfaces cannot and shouldn’t be summarized to just the clicks, there a lot more: the images, the texts and the page designs which actively participate in designing the user experience.
The click is just the final step of a longer decision path thus showing where the user clicked definitely doesn’t explain WHY she clicked: I think that the most significative quote I can place here is that what really impressed me when I first approached eyetracking technology is that the mouse pointer is completely STOPPED during the whole decisional process; out of sight, I’d say).
And I think that is really important to designers and developers to understand WHAT the user looked at before clicking and WHY they looked at or interacted in a given way (and this is simply impossible with a mousetracking machine).

I don’t want to be misunderstood: my opinion is that Crazy Egg could really help to improve the overall usability of small and simple sites showing their creators what is clicked in a graphical way (a more complexe alternative could be a deeper stats/logs analysis, and my friend Lou could say more on this) but once compared to Eyetracking technology, its benefits simply disappear.

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