Olark.com - finally website chat plugin that delivers

_Edit:Olark has confirmed that the limits on the free plans are soft caps

  • you can go over the 20 chat limit, no charges or cancellation of service
  • thanks Olark!_

Over the years I’ve added various web based chat pluggins to my websits - so users of my various products etc.. can chat to me while they are browsing the site

I’ve tried Meebo Me flash based IM, Plupper and now Olark

Meebo Me

The Meebo me plugin works great - the best part is that now other tabs,windows, web elements popup - the user can just start typeing right on the page without clicking anothing else.

The problem with meebo is that its flash based :( and you need to be logged into meebo.com IM to chat to the website visitors. There are plugins to make meebo me work in the pidgin.im IM client but they are pretty unstable

Also given that google just purchased meebo this product will be phased out soon

Plupper.com

A free javascript/xmpp based web chat plugin that almost does the job.

The best features of plupper is that its javascript and xmpp - meaning no flash on your site and you can use a normal IM client like pidgin to connect. Also it calims to work with your gmail

It would be great except plupper.com is unstable and offline frequently, the plugin status display is inconsistent - somethings your online it says offline etc..

The gmail integration would be great but you need to provide them with your email username and password. Which is way to insecure.

Plupper should be great but just isnt

Olark - The Good

Their tag line is ‘Olark live chat, Talk to your customers’. Unlike most other of its competitors it delivers on their promises and doesnt box you in to using their chat client. Olark integrates perfectly with gmail chat - so if your usign gmail you dont have to change a thing - it just works. You dont need to give them your password and you don’t need to use an IM client - works great in the normal gmail.

Olark doesn’t require flash to work - its a simple javascript pluggin that appears at the bottom of your page. See the bottom right of this page to see ti in action. It’s extremly customisable - even though the default setup works just how you want it to

If you need to talk to the vistiors of your site, don’t want to use flash, and use gmail - Olark is perfect!

Olark - The Bad

Pretty much everythign about Olark is great, the only problem is there free plans are to restrictive. Currently they are set to 20 per month, this should be at least 50 - given the high amount of people who use it when your offline as a simple email contact form

Also If your a cloudflare.com user olark doesnt seeem to work with their rocket script setup

Conclusion

Olark is the best web chat plugin available for you site. For low volume its free and great, just wish they would raise their usage on free plans.

  • you can exceed them and there are no charges or cancellation of service

Justin Kelly

Justin Kelly

Web Developer, Business Analytics, Data Engineer specialising in PHP, ReactJS, Tableau, AWS RedShift and Matillion ETL

Based in Melbourne, Australia

Feel free to contact me justin@kelly.org.au or _justin_kelly

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