Hot, Hotter, Heat Map

You may have noticed the new Heat Map geovisualization feature that we have launched on motigo webstats. Here I’ll try to tell a little about what the heat map is and what it does.

Before the heat map, we already had two other geovisualization features on motigo webstats:

  • The oldest feature is the Continent of Origin map, which colors each continent according to the total amount of traffic from each continent
  • The more recent Visitor map uses Google Maps to pinpoint your most recent visitors’ locations

Between these we have wanted for some time to do a heat map which gives both

  1. a more detailed view of where your visitors come from than the Continent of Origin
  2. a higher level of overview than the pinpoint-exact Visitor Map

We also wanted our heat map to update live in real-time. This is something of a rarity in the world of heat maps, in fact it may be rather unique. So here it is: our real-time updating heat map :-)

Heat maps are a way to visualize geographic data such as housing prices, pollution levels, population density, and temperature. On a heat map, areas which appear in a hot color have a high value, e.g. expensive houses, much pollution, dense population, or warm weather.

For webstats, a hot color means “many visitors” from that area. The heat map renders each page view as a “hot spot” placed at the visitor’s location on the map.

When it starts up, it uses the first 15 seconds to render the most recent page views: up to 300 recent hits – fewer (down to 30) if your counter is not that busy or if we have recently run a cleanup procedure (cleanup happens once per day for most counters, more often for very busy counters).

Then it just waits for new hits for the counter and renders those as they arrive. There is a slight delay (up to 30 seconds) from the hit happens until it appears as a “hot spot” location on the heat map. If that location is already “hot”, the hit will not stand out, but the hot spot will expand slightly.

As more hits are rendered, older “hot spots” will gradually “cool off” and fade out if no further hits originate from there.

The time until hot spots fade out is determined dynamically by the number of hits which arrive, so it is not possible to say exactly how long a hit will be visible as a hot spot.

Future Attractions

We hope you’ll enjoy the new Heat Map feature. If you do, we have many ideas for additional features that we would like to add to the heat map. You are also welcome to leave a reply with your own ideas or comments.

The heat map requires our most recent version of the counter code. If you fetched your counter code since 2008 May 8th you should have the heat map already. Otherwise, you can log in and go to your “My Counters” page for instructions on how to update.

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2 Responses to “Hot, Hotter, Heat Map”

  1. Greg says:

    A like the new motigo… very nice, perfect to my webs