Ernst-Jan Pfauth is the former Editor in Chief of Internet at NRC Handelsblad, as well as an acclaimed technology author and columnist. He a Ernst-Jan Pfauth is the former Editor in Chief of Internet at NRC Handelsblad, as well as an acclaimed technology author and columnist. He also served as The Next Web’s blog’s first blogger and Editor in Chief, back in 2008. At De Correspondent, Ernst-Jan serves as publisher, fostering the expansion of the platform.
As you can tell by the widget in our sidebar, we ‘use, approve and recommend’ analytics service Clicky. And not just because they have an affiliate program. The service offers insightful statistics, especially because visitors have ‘names’ instead of IP addresses. Moreover, we not only want our number of visitors to look good, also the way they are presented must be pretty slick. Clicky fulfills that need with a cool-looking Web 2.0 design. We’re not alone in this, as co-founder and lead programmer Sean Hammons told me that the service is monitoring traffic of 200,000 web sites. I wanted to know the story behind this upcoming analytics tool, so I’ve asked Hammons a couple of questions.
Hammons started Clicky as an internal project at his last job: “We wanted to analyze how each individual visitor was using our site, not only per session but also any user’s entire history with a simple click. There are some products that track individual visitors, but in my opinion they’re all ugly or crappy. Plus, we wanted to integrate it with our user’s account information, not just IP addresses, and nothing did this that we could find.”
So instead of just accepting the fact that the perfect service didn’t exist, Hammons started working on it himself. “I wrote up the initial version in a few hours and called it Clicky without even really thinking about it. We were tracking what people were clicking on, so the name it seemed obvious but also funny in a kind of not-really way. It immediately helped us a great deal with figuring out how our users were interacting with our site, and over the next few months I continued to improve it, until it became obvious that we should be making it into a commercial product.”
That was October 2006. Hammons launched the public beta six weeks later at clicky.roxr.net. He admits that the service was ‘fairly limited’ at first. “But as we got feedback I quickly filled in some obvious features that weren’t there, and over the last 15 months I have worked on it more than 50 hours a week to make it into what it is today. Over 25,000 sites have registered at GetClicky and through the partnerships and licensing deals we’ve made, we’re monitoring traffic to a total of more than 200,000 web sites.”
When I asked Hammons how he experienced the quick growth of the last years, I suggested it may had been a roller coaster ride. Yet as Clicky ‘never had any lows’, Hammons doesn’t agree with the metaphor. “It’s all been a blast. We’re very profitable, have zero debt, and own 100% of our business. What’s not to love?”
Maybe the blogpost by Mashable’s Pete Cashmore in June 2007 titled ‘Bye, Bye Clicky’. According to Cashmore, Mashable had ‘outgrown’ Clicky. By that time, the company tracked 7,000 active websites, but Mashable was accounting for more than 10% of all incoming traffic. Clicky was ‘in excess of their limits many times’.
Hammons: “At that time we only had one server. Since then we have increased our capacity considerably and have four database servers rocking out behind the scenes. Mashable started using the service again about 2 months ago I believe.”
That being said, what are the plans for the future? “There’s a few key features that Clicky still really needs, like localization, goal tracking and campaign tracking. These are all coming fairly soon. We’re dedicated to making the best analytics products on the planet and will continue to improve it for a long time to come. We work out of our homes but are considering opening an office and hiring a third employee. We’re also considering a few other side projects we might work on, to get a bit of variety going on in our lives. I love working on Clicky but after 15 months non-stop I’d like to take a small break and work on something else too.”
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