Microsoft Clarity | A New Website Heatmaps And Sessions Tool

In this article, we’ll introduce you to Microsoft Clarity as a new tool without any traffic sampling for free heatmaps and session recordings of your website. Simply, because building a compelling and user-friendly website is hard. And although A/B testing, guesswork, and intuition can steer you in the right direction, it’s still difficult to understand what moves your metrics.

With data and session replay software from Clarity, you’ll see how people are using your website — where they get stuck, and what they love. Note that; at its core, session replay is a technology that allows you to watch an end user’s session as they experienced it, similar to how you watch a video. You can pause, rewind, and fast-forward the session just like a YouTube video.

Specifically, in order to watch how a user interacts with a website or mobile app. Most companies today use session replay technology to monitor and improve the User Experience (UX) on customer-facing and employee-facing experiences, including on a website, mobile web, mobile app, or kiosk applications. Below, you’ll see a sample replay of a user’s experience.

With that in mind, the free analytics tool by Microsoft provides all website usage statistics, session recordings, and heatmaps for webmasters. Whilst compared to Google Analytics (and other web analytics platforms), it’s a little basic. But, the best thing about this tool is that it’s robust, it’s easy to use, and it has some interesting features. Let’s now learn more about it in detail.

What Is Microsoft Clarity?

Microsoft Clarity is Microsoft’s free behavioral analysis tool. It enables webmasters and website owners to visualize their user behavior at scale. Whereby, they can make data-driven decisions on changes needed to optimize conversion, engagement, and retention. Traditionally, user research and A/B Testing experimentation are used to update user experience.

While these are proven techniques, they each have limitations. For instance, users in research studies may not fully represent your target audience. Then again, A/B experimentation doesn’t necessarily explain why your metrics changed. As such, Microsoft Clarity fills in these gaps by letting you replay your users’ sessions to see what’s working smoothly and what isn’t.

In a nutshell, Microsoft Clarity tracks and collects mouse events through the installed tracking code of the project. As such, the tracking code chooses the best screenshot to ensure that the top elements are included. The top elements are ranked in order of the clicks on a page. Element ranking is absolute in the aggregate of all page views for a given set of filters.

Additionally, detailed heat maps show you where users clicked and scrolled and how they moved around the site. With Clarity, you can discover which parts of a page drive the most engagement. Not to mention, you too can sign up for free to start now! Overall, it’s clear to note that Microsoft Clarity offers many unique features that help you understand user behavior.

Consider the following key features:
  • Simple and easy customization makes it best for businesses
  • Clarity won’t get in the way of your overall website performance
  • Data is analyzed and ready to view in near real-time, so you don’t have to wait
  • There are absolutely no limits on the number of sites per account
  • Clarity processes more than 1 petabyte of data from over 100 million users per month
  • Also, there are no traffic limits on these websites with scale support for even the largest websites
  • Deep AI and Machine Learning algorithm-powered insights help you analyze user behavior efficiently
  • No sampling (that is, tracking only a portion of your site’s traffic)!

In reality, there are many reasons why Clarity is a must-have tool. Microsoft processes a massive amount of anonymous data around user behavior — to gain insights and improve Machine Learning (ML) models that power many of its products and services. Clarity is one of the ways Microsoft gathers this important data — and why they’ve made it available for free.

Simply put, Clarity By Microsoft is a cutting-edge behavioral analysis tool that helps you understand user interaction with your website. This means, that by using Clarity’s robust analysis tools, you can enhance your website for your clients and your business. And, since Clarity is a free service forever, you’ll never run into traffic limits or be forced to upgrade to a paid version.

Understanding How Microsoft Clarity Tool Really Works

Building a compelling and user-friendly website is hard. Although A/B testing, guesswork, and intuition can steer you in the right direction, it’s still difficult to understand what moves your metrics. Luckily, it’s clear to note that; with data and session replay from Clarity, you’ll see how people use your site, where they get stuck, and what they love.

Notably, Clarity is so GDPR Compliant as a data controller (for more information, see the Microsoft Privacy Statement to gather more resourceful information). Whereby, it processes data in compliance with the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). Be that as it may, you can refer to the Terms of Use to know the Privacy Policy it uses to safeguard your data in detail.

By default, Clarity suppresses the client’s entire content. The website admin controls the content sent to Clarity, and website owners should use their dashboard settings to block confidential content. As a result, the data is retained for the webmaster’s consumption for up to 30 days from the time of recording. But, it doesn’t currently respond to browser DNT signals.

Forthwith, as soon as you Sign Up, Clarity captures all the user interactions on your website. Like how the page has rendered and what interactions your user had on your website — such as mouse movements, clicks, scrolls, etc. The code to capture this information is open source and available on GitHub for free. You can choose to mask your users’ data (Try Demo).

You can use it in some or all of these cases:
  • Understand confusing elements of your webpage
  • Identify user behavior and add required content to your page
  • Test what content works best and where to place it on your page
  • Enable your clients or management in making data-driven decisions on what works and what doesn’t
  • Test and publish new ideas on your webpage
  • Study user clicks and scrolling behavior

On the other hand, you can use Clarity on multiple subdomains under the same website too. All you’ll need to do is add your project’s script to each subdomain and page you want to be instrumented. And, of course, it requires some modern browser APIs but should never throw exceptions on older browsers.

It tracks and collects mouse events through the installed tracking code of the project. Choosing the best screenshot ensures that the top elements are included. The top elements are ranked in order of clicks on a page. Element ranking is absolute in the aggregate of all page views for a given set of filters.

Its Key Website Reporting Features That You Should Know

What we know so far is that it’s designed with performance as one of the topmost priorities. Hence, there is no perceivable impact on your site’s end-user experience. Clarity will work on a majority of websites with little code. Not to mention, onboarding to Clarity is ultimately free and easy. But, Financial, Government, and Medical Websites are discouraged from use.

A few scenarios where it can be best used include:
  • Enable your clients or management in making data-driven decisions on what works and what doesn’t.
  • Test what content works best and where to place it on your page.
  • Understand confusing elements of your webpage.
  • Identify user behavior and add required content to your page.
  • Test and publish new ideas on your webpage.
  • Study user clicks and scrutinize the requirements.

And now, although any website architecture is supported, it won’t be able to render inside ‘iframe’ or ‘canvas’ elements. Another sidekick is that it supports all browsers that execute JavaScript — including all modern browsers. To run it on your website, you’ll need access to your website’s <head> section. Then, thereafter, finish the Setup Process to get started with:

1. Dashboards & Metrics

As you might expect from an analytics tool, Clarity provides an extensive overview in the form of a dashboard. This contains all of the usual kinds of metrics you’d expect; session counts, total users, page view details, and similar. Surprisingly, the dashboard lacks some of the metrics you might expect in a tool like this. There’s no ‘bounce rate’, and no ‘conversation rate.’

And also, none of the kinds of tables you might be used to from tools like Google Analytics or other analytics tools. You also can’t compare performance across multiple date ranges or segments. Beyond the usual metrics, Clarity does try to provide some clever insight. Specifically, it tries to identify when users encounter friction.

Special reports like ‘rage clicks’ and ‘excessive scrolling’ show users who might have been confused or annoyed. Digging into these can be a great way to find out where your website is letting your users down. Fixing those issues might be a great way to improve engagement, reduce bounce rates, or increase conversions.

2. Clickmaps & Heatmaps

Most analytics tools do a good job of understanding which pages users navigate to and from. But it’s often much harder to understand how they behave whilst they’re on a specific page. Clarity’s heatmaps tools record where users click and allow you to explore and filter this. This kind of view can help you to understand what your users want, and, where to improve.

You’ll also be able to know more about your website design and layout, and where it might be confusing your users. Clickmaps are split into desktoptablet, and mobile versions. That lets you explore behavior by device category. The functionality here is a little basic, but a future update promises more options. Of note, we’re expecting the addition of scroll maps.

In other words, these maps will help you visualize the content people see as they scroll down the page, rather than where they click. That’s a different type of data, which can be very useful in helping understand how users navigate.

3. Sessions Recording

One of the great attractions of Clarity is that all sessions are recorded. Clarity logs the mouse movements, scrolling, and clicks of every visitor to the site. These can be viewed and replayed at any time in the future. Each of the dashboard panels provides shortcuts to these kinds of video recordings. You can drill down to see recordings from popular pages.

And glean the data of frustrated users, or from specific browsers. Adding a project can be done in three simple steps (the simple steps of getting started). Whereas, you can add an unlimited number of projects for each domain or website. If you are an Admin of the project, you can modify the project settings, like changing its name and website category.

For more information, see the Project Management user guide. Always remember, you’ll not be able to recover any data associated with the project after you delete it. You can delete a project only if you are an Admin of the project. Deleting a project will also remove it completely from all members — you can follow these steps to delete a project (you can’t undo it).

4. Filtering & Custom Tags

To get useful insight, you can use filters to see data with specific criteria. For example, you might want to see session recordings where the user filled out a form, or, see heatmaps from pages where users seem frustrated. Combining multiple filters can be a great way to dig down into user behavior, and to find problems to solve.

In particular, filtering becomes really powerful when you start using custom tags. With a little code, you can send extra information to Clarity. That information can be about the page the user is on, the user themselves, the weather, or anything at all. Once you’re firing those tags, you can filter your reports to see metrics, session recordings, and heat maps.

Especially, for sessions and pages where they fired. Some great use cases for custom tags include tracking ‘conversion events’ on your website, like when users buy thingsregister accounts, or fill out forms. Some less obvious, but also useful filters might include tracking whether the user is logged in, or, what type of page they’re looking at.

With that tracking in place, you can filter your dashboards and reports to see how specific users behaved. Unfortunately, there’s no way to compare filtered data (to all data, or to other filtered data). That means that you won’t be able to, for example, compare the ‘conversion rate’ across different custom tags.

5. An Easy Platform Installation

Getting your tracking up and running requires that you sign up to Clarity and create a ‘project’. Once that’s done, you need to get the tracking code onto your website. Unfortunately, at the time of writing, there’s no Microsoft Clarity WordPress Plugin.

That means that getting set up requires you to copy-paste the tracking script into your site template. Or rather, use a third-party system like Google Tag Manager to manage it. Either way, the core Clarity script is very simple – just one block of code to paste into the page, and you’re done.

There’s even a walkthrough of the steps (for each approach) in their getting started documentation which has more helpful details. For now, Clarity is just a very new product. And, therefore, there’s certainly some work to be done first. Before it’s ready for extensive or commercial usage.

It Is Not Replacing Google Analytics Property In Any Way!

It’s clear that Microsoft Clarity isn’t a comprehensive, all-in-one analytics platform. That’s not a bad thing, though. From my perspective, it even seems like an intentional design decision. That it’s not trying to be everything. Rather, it’s trying to be a session recording tool, heat mapping tool, and ‘user behavior overview’ tool. And that focus helps it do a good job.

Because of those limitations, you should probably think twice before throwing away all of your other tracking tools. Whilst there are some interesting metrics and reports, it’s clear that it isn’t fully featured – to act as your primary analytics tool. That’s especially true if you have a complex site with multiple goals, or an active marketing campaign, and lots of moving parts.

But you can run both tools side-by-side. They even integrate together, with just a few clicks. Once enabled, Clarity passes information back to Google Analytics. That lets you see which Clarity recordings are associated with any of your Google Analytics sessions. That way, you get ‘the best of both’ platforms.

Summing Up; 

As can be seen, Microsoft Clarity is a very new but great web analytics tool by Microsoft. Allowing webmasters and website owners to record information about users who visit their website, and how they behave. While summarising all that information in the form of dashboards. It allows you to explore and highlight interesting site segments and user behaviors.

In addition, it also provides you with all the basic information on site user sessions, interactions, and engagement too. While breaking users down by device typecountry, and other dimensions. And for all of these views, you can explore heatmaps and session recordings. These records might help you to better understand your users and their problems.

You might be able to use that insight to improve your overall website performance, provide a better User Experience (UX) to your target audience, and even rank higher in search engine results. As well as know your weak points to help you optimize your content to attract more organic traffic, convert more potential customers into active buyers, make more sales, etc.

Other More Related Resource Reference Topics: 

  1. Why Website Heatmaps Are Important In UX Content Design
  2. How To Track Website Visitors | The Topmost Best User Tools
  3. Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) | 10 Key Metrics To Track
  4. Using GTmetrix For Website Performance Testing & Monitoring
  5. Website Page Experience Is Now The New SERP Ranking Factor
  6. How Scroll Heatmaps Help Optimize Website For More Conversions
  7. PageSpeed Insights (PSI) Tool For Better Web Experience Evaluation
  8. Using Speed Index (SI) To Optimize & Improve Web Performance
  9. How To Increase Organic Website Traffic From Google For Free!
  10. How Google Lighthouse Calculates Website Performance Score

That’s it! Everything that you needed to know about Microsoft Clarity and how it can help glean into your website performance so as to utilize that data to your advantage. That being said, we hope you’ll go straight ahead and try this new tool yourself too. So, if you’re a new user, you’ll start by Signing Up where you can refer to Setup to know how to manually install the script.

Or even start installing the Clarity tracking code right away. Later on, feel free to share some of your additional thoughts, opinions, suggestions, recommendations, or even contribution questions for our FAQs & Answers in our comments section. But, if you’ll also need more support, you can always Contact Us and let us know how we can help you. Thanks for your time!

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