MapSurface | February 22, 2006
Mapsurface is the personal project of friend and local developer, Glenn Jones. Inspired in part by Jeremy’s DOM Scripting book, Glenn decided to rediscover DOM scripting and created his excellent Ajax link tracker. If you’ve not seen the link tracker before, it’s a cool little script that records and displays which links your users are clicking on. This is a fantastically useful tool as it allows you to see which parts of your page are getting more attention and which parts are not working. As such it could be used in both a marketing and a usability context.
Many people would have stopped there, but working evenings and weekends Glenn advanced the technique to produce Mapsurface. Mapsurface is essentially a stats widget which displays the traffic, referrers and user link behaviour on your site. Most stats packages show this information, so what’s so special? Well, while most stats packages show you this information on a separate admin page in aggregate, Mapsurface makes this data readily available on the actual page. I’ve been beta testing Mapsurface on my site now for a few weeks, so hit alt x and see for yourself.
Rather than weigh each page down with code that will only be used by a few people, the files that make up the widget are downloaded on demand, when the user presses the required key combination. This is a truly fantastic feature and one I’m sure we’ll see a lot more of. If you’d like to know how this all works, Glenn also explains the map surface architecture at his site.
Clicking the map link at the top of the dashboard brings up the now familiar link tracking map. As you can see from the following image, 133 people clicked on the link to my book in a recent post, while 229 checked out the book flickr set. You don’t have to be Jakob Nielsen to see how useful this type of data could be for your site usability.
Clicking on the more link brings up a second window showing a 7 day and 30 day activity graph, a full referrers list and the exit points for the page.
Now I don’t know about you, but I find it much more useful viewing page statistics on the actual page in question, rather than trying to decipher the divorced and aggregated data most stats packages supply. For instance, prior to installing MapSurface I’d probably look at my stats 3-4 times a year. Because it’s now so easy I check them at least a couple of times a week, more if I’m posting a lot of stuff.
Mapsurface is still in beta, but you can sign up for a test drive over at www.mapsurface.com. I’m not sure what Glenns plans are for this widget, so don’t know if it’s going to become a commercial project or not. However I know that I’d happily pay $2 per month for such a cool and useful tool. What do you think?
Posted at February 22, 2006 10:10 AM