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GUIDE: GETTING USABLE STATISTICS IN SHAREPOINT ONLINE WITH CLARITY

Author: Jonathan Stuckey


Useful analytics and statistics in SharePoint Online

In our article in 2022, we talked about page author support for understanding the reach and impact of the content, and that all good content management solutions provide strong analytic tools to help understand the users experience and usability of their content. Nearly all available platforms offer some statistics and most support Google SEO or paid Analytics plug-in options being directly built-in, or readily available on 'click-to-go' install - but not SharePoint.


During 2020 - 2023 Microsoft was busy extending its investment in Clarity. A user-experience analytics toolset which, unlike Microsoft's normal half-baked released tools and plugins, is actually very good. After more than 18-months of using it on our website, our Intranet, and working with customers on updating Microsoft 365 intranets, I think we need to let people know all about it.


Introducing Microsoft Clarity

Microsoft Clarity is a user behaviour analytics tool launched October 2020. It’s designed to help website managers improve their website experiences by better understanding site visitor behaviour.


Basically, it's a combination of online-service and a plug-in, for which the reference is cut-n-paste into the <head> section of your site. Based on JavaScript, it supports about 95% of common web platforms... oh and there is a direct plugin for SharePoint Online on Microsoft 365!


The registered plugin monitors and collects analytics, stats and session-based information from user interactions.


What does Clarity provide?

Microsoft Clarity helps you understand user interactions with your website. Like all good modern tools, it incorporates AI and Machine Learning algorithms to provide insights and help you analyse user behaviours to figure out what's working (or not) on you site and with your content.


Core Functionality:

It provides:

  • Insights: helping spotlight user behaviour and uncover trends, which can be used to improve your website or intranet.

Screenshot of a Clarity Project dashboard
Clarity SharePoint Online analytics project dashboard
  • Heatmaps: generated automatically for all your pages, showing where people click, what they ignore, and how far they scroll.

Identification of behaviour or issue from page heatmap
Clarity site page heatmap
  • Session Recordings: that record how users interact with your site and services, providing usable insights into behaviour.

Identification of UI issues with recording
Clarity user session recording

Key value proposition

Beyond the obvious on an internet facing website, there is...


  1. Integration with SharePoint: Clarity directly integrates with SharePoint Online via registered app

  2. Actionable data: review user behaviour with tracking capabilities across your SharePoint site pages, providing insights into how users interact with elements on the page.

  3. Its Free. Forever. Yep, you heard right. Check it out for yourself.


Now I do have some questions, such as: why not build it in, or make it obviously selectable by default from the store (if want to avoid anti-competitive stance) - but more importantly why don't Microsoft talk about it more openly and in the right forums? ...but that's just me.


Out of the box vs. plug-in for Clarity.

SharePoint's simplicity is often its own downfall, and that is the case with out-of-the-box functionality. Unlike the pitiful experience the page author or site-owner has built-in to SharePoint, the Intranet manager can easily see are useful stats like: visitors numbers, sessions, duration, views, likes / comments, duration, click-metrics, duration, session recordings...


The primary drawbacks to the out-of-the-box SharePoint Online page statistics are they only provide site-specific data over a limited period - based on where you are. There is no ability to drill into the data presented, you only get half-a-dozen indicators - no traceability, no click-through reports, no link-tracking etc.


Basically, almost anything is better if you want informative, usable data to help you improve your content and services for your users.


Pre-requisite configuration by site administrator

Your admin (or equivalent) has to register and get a Clarity login, but this can be linked to your Microsoft authentication for SSO. The admin then creates a project and copies the ID, then they can add the Clarity plugin to the environment from the SharePoint App Store using the ID.


There are a range of things you can do to scope its range of access a visibility - but really, it just works. Sit back and get summaries, pointers and trend data as it monitors users on your site pages.


How does it compare to Web Analytics?

Well Clarity is not providing web analytics / SEO (search engine optimisation), it is user behavioural tracking - it just happens to include a lot of relevant data and makes it accessible.


You can integrate with Google SEO (or other tools) for more extensive toolset, but most organisations in NZ would not need to go down that path for their intranet.


There are some nice articles out there providing detail breakdown of the differences, but put in its simplest form:


  • Analytics provides insights to traffic patterns on your site(s)

  • Clarity is providing actionable insights to the user-interactions with your pages.


And on the plus side - you can connect services like Google Analytics to Clarity for an integrated wholistic view of your site and content. Win-win!


Assessment

If you are using SharePoint Online for your intranet and want to know how your users are working across your environment, you should try Clarity.


Clarity is a low-overhead, low-risk deployment and it is easy to back-out if you decide against it. It is easy to deploy and starts providing insights virtually straight away.


Want to know what we know? Give us a call!

If you want the best experience for your users, you need to understand how your environment is used. You need to know some of the tricks-of-the-trade and all the stuff Microsoft doesn't bother to tell you.


If you want to know about getting more out of SharePoint as a publishing solution on your intranet, drop us a line: hi@timewespoke.com


About the author: Jonathan Stuckey


About this article: This article has been composed with support of GenerativeAI tools. The analysis and opinions are the result of the authors experience.

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