by Nick Anis
On December 6, 1999, Israeli startup
company launched a new customer service, communications, and user tracking
resource for websites that bares it corporate name, HumanClick.
The company has signed up over 10,000 users since
they began the service in May 1999 (service was actually launched Dec/99).
Human Click's target market is personal
home pages, and home sites for small to medium sized businesses.
For businesses HumanClick offers an easy
way to improve contact with visitors to
the website and help them use the site in real time.
As the emphasis in Ecommerce continues to grow its becoming more and
more critical for brand-less sites to convince visitors that they can shop
safely within the site, get what they want, have it shipped when and the way
they want. The software and
service also improves ability of these sites to make better recommendations
when promoting within their sites affiliated products.
For the personal sites HumanClick
introduces a means for interacting with visitors without the need for any
messaging software or user downloads. By
adding HumanClick to your personal home page, you chat real time with anyone
visiting your website.
But don't worry about being overly
pestered by users. You can set
the status the user sees for you as available, back in 5 minutes, or not
available - leave a message. All the while, you can monitor their usage of
site including the URL that referred them, what pages they visit and how
long they say at each page, and so on.
It's a great way to understand site behavior and better
design your website to better suit the needs of your users.
While the user is in your site,
HumanClick can show you any historical usage information you might have for
that user. (HumanClick's
for individual users, only group demographics and group usage statistics.)
A future release is planned which will give you access to historical
usage statistics whether or not the user is inside your site.
The present version allows you to have
as many "operators" as you like, and an operator can talk to
multiple users simultaneously. However,
with a 56K connection (actually the problem is more the capacity of the
operator and not his line's bandwidth connection), HumanClick recommends
operators chat with 1 to 6 users at a time to avoid slowing the system down
or getting confused with so many simultaneous conversations.
Unfortunately, in the present release
the users cannot talk to other users, only to the operator, and there is no
way for the users to see what there other users are saying.
This group discussion capability is sometimes useful, and it is often
used in online support forums. Of
course, those support forums are merely using "chat."
HumanClick, on the other hand, is much, much
more than a mere chat service. HumanClick
has real time and historical usage tracking, and it allows the operator to
be beside the user when they communicate with each other.
In some ways, it is even better than talking to them on the
For both business and personal sites,
HumanClick offers a unique way to know in real time what is going on within
their site (this level of functionality has previously only been available
with some very highend, expensive, and complex analysis tools).
The challenge for the company's three
34-year-old founders, Eitan Ron, Tal Goldberg, and Eyal Halahami, who have
known each other since they attended junior high school 20 years ago (see
sidebar about HumanCick's founders), was to develop a scalable server
platform, to be able service an ever growing number of users.
Another goal set by the management team
was for HumanClick to be a solution that any website operator could easily
install and use, even someone without knowledge of ftp or modifying HTML
pages. For this reason
HumanClick's R&D team developed an auto embed feature which
automatically makes any modifications needed by using a website owner's name
and password on GeoCity, AOL, or any other host) and home page file - and
automatically goes through all their sites pages and inserts the HumanClick
Since HumanClick uses an icon that
overhead for the hosting site's server.
The overhead on the visitors' machine are minimal (in terms of CPU
and memory requirements). The
loading time for the chat window vary depending upon the speed of the user's
Internet connection, but typically takes a few seconds (the same take a 2-5K
GIF file would take) with a 56K modem and a 300 Mhz or better Pentium based
HumanClick uses "cookies" -
small datafiles written by some websites to your hard drive when you visit
them. A cookie file can contain
information such as user ID for that the website uses to track the pages
you've visited. The ONLY personal information a cookie can contain is
information you supply yourself. Therefore, there is no need to be all that
concerned about cookies. Many
websites use them. Your browser
has a setting for cookies and you will need to set it to "enabled"
to use HumanClick. Actually,
you need cookies enabled to use just Ecommerce sites,
Encarta, Elibrary, websites requiring login, and so on.
The HumanClick operator software
launches automatically when you boot your PC.
The status for the operator (available, back in 5 minutes, not
available leave a message) can be set on the fly as desired.
When a user enters the site a realistic doorbell tone is heard on the
operator's PC. There is also an
auto alert when a user requests to chat with an operator whose status is
The software gives you a choice of eight
icon designs sets for your website including in a variety of colors schemes.
The static icons are about 1K, the animated gif ones are a few K
HumanClick's plans for future
enhancements include: adding voice and multimedia capabilities to our
textual chats, adding off-line traffic analysis, and adding customization
features, like enabling site owners to customize their chat windows with
their logos, pictures, etc. Additional
site management features may also be added which should appeal to larger
sites where there are many concurrent operators.
HumanClick is maintaining a close
interaction with their users and Eitan Ron says future enhancements will be
primarily based upon the feedback.
The concept of operator chat dates back
to the computer old bulletin board in the mid 80's (where bbs users could
talk to the "sysop"), but until now, no one has come up with a low
overhead easy to use web-based implementation.
It took the combined skills of three
Halahami served in the same elite technology unit of the IDF (Israeli
defense forces, which has been the hot house for other
successful start ups such as CheckPoint and others). All three founders hold degrees in computer science and a
vast experience in leading R&D teams of Israeli high tech companies such
as Commverse, Jacada and Technomatix.
Eitan Ron holds a computer engineering
degree from the Israeli Technion, and after a few years of working in
R&D at Scitex, he went to the US, got an MBA from the University of
California Irvine, and worked for a while for AST Research.
Since returning to Israel he has held marketing and business
development positions with several Israeli high tech companies.
To learn more about HumanClick, try it
out, or download the software and install it on one of your websites, point
your browser to: http://www.humanclick.com.
Nick Anis is a food, wine, and travel
and technology writer with 24 books in print. Nicks
beats include snow and water sports, and vacation destinations. Nick can be reached by
email at: email@example.com.