Trying Out Hotspots Analytics

Hotspots Analytics is a free WordPress plugin that provides data about website usage that used to be costly to obtain.

It offers heatmaps and custom event tracking. Your website and your browser have to be HTML5 compliant to use the heatmap features.

The makers of the plugin warn that it shouldn’t be used “where performance is critical” and I’d agree. While I was testing it, this is what I saw much of the time:

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I left it to collect data quietly on its own for a couple of weeks and saw no problems, but you can probably figure that your site will not perform as well for all your visitors.

What kind of data can you collect?

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Hotspots captures events like mouse clicks and Ajax actions, as well as form submissions. These actions are sorted by screen size, so you can see how different devices affect interactions with your website.

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Hotspots provides nice visual reports over time, and all the reports are visible in your admin area — you don’t have to go to Google Analytics or to the plugin’s website to see the data or the reports. In this case, we’re seeing that one of our posts garnered more clicks early in its life span than it did a few months later, but we’re also seeing that pageviews were actually fairly steady. I would have expected it to be the other way around — and a surprise is always a chance for deeper understanding.

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You can configure Hotspots to catch specific kinds of events, or specific events associated with a specific URL. This makes it easy to catch a particular action, such as a form submit during a campaign.

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You can also see the actions at a particular page, which can be a big help in testing the performance of a specific page or post.

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In addition to the traditional heatmap, there is also a “confetti heatmap” option, as seen above.

Hotspots is a good choice for testing a landing page, checking to see what actions users are taking (without requiring much tech skill), and comparing the effectiveness of multiple pages that link to the same sales page or download.

I don’t think they’ve kidding about the possible effects on performance, so I’d be inclined to use this as a testing tool rather than as ongoing analytics. It’s nice to have a free tool for that.


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