What is the best web site chat provider to use?


I want to add a chat capability to my web site. Wondering recommendations from folks. Looking for something relatively inexpensive and relatively easy to implement but want it to be functional.

It will be used for prospects on our site, not for customers at this point. We're trying to convert site visitors into a free trial program and I want to see if this will really make an impact in boosting conversions. Only one of our competitors has anything close and theirs is just for customers and can only be used when you pay an extra fee.

There's a bit of a debate internally about whether we should do this or not. If we get buried with inquires I figure the worst case we'll work our butts off to respond and learn a lot about additional information we should put on the site to address why people have to ask us questions before signing up. And if it's totally overwhelming we can remove it. Best case we'll be learning a lot about questions and mindset to help us provide better information on the site and we'll convert more site visitors.

Also, any positive or negative experiences with chat? I used it a few years ago and it worked well. Easy to setup, easy to assign different people to taking the inquiries, easy to flip into email mode. (Checking out the vendor we used then but would like to know if there are better solutions now.)

Appreciate any feedback.

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asked Nov 25 '09 at 00:59
4,214 points
Top digital marketing agency for SEO, content marketing, and PR: Demand Roll

3 Answers


We've gone through two selection rounds for our main web site ([www.GibraltarSoftware.com]). We initially picked an all-web solution and discovered that was a real productivity killer because you had to have the window up and visible to make sure you didn't miss something, and it didn't have presence detection to know when you stepped away and forgot to tell it.

We recently went through another selection round and picked Provide Support. The key things we were looking for:

  1. Had to have a native client: For Windows in our case. The client had to be able to sit in the system tray and not distract us yet sound an alarm when a customer wanted to chat.
  2. Presence Detection: It had to realize when we were not available because our desktop was locked or we'd walked away for a while and present us as offline.
  3. Good Page Performance: Since each page would have script hitting the vendor's site to trigger the live chat integration that had to not slow down our user-perceived page time (we discovered significant variance with this in our testing)
  4. SSL Support: This isn't always obvious or there; the scripts had to handle SSL transitions correctly and not cause browser warnings.

We've been using Provide Support for several months now and it's worked very well.

Is it Worth It? We had live chat online for some time initially and the results were not encouraging. However, as we've been in the market longer things have changed. I can ascribe about 20% of our total sales to prospects that started with a live chat.

  • I'd hazard that half of those would not be our customers if we didn't have the chat, based on the transcripts.
  • I am confident that our customer's perception of us as providing outstanding and personable service would not be nearly as solid without it.

The cost is very minor, and well worth it. Just be sure you pick something that isn't going to interfere with your normal work.

answered Jan 10 '10 at 05:19
Kendall Miller
968 points


There are many choices out there.

A friend of mine from college has developed a very nifty application in this space that you may want to check out during your search. Zopim

answered Nov 25 '09 at 01:13
Usman Sheikh
1,728 points
  • I haven't used Zopim but I like that it's free, that for a small site "free" would be enough, and that the next one up is cheaper than anything else I've seen. – Jason 14 years ago


Here are some free suggestions:

1/ Userplane. To test it out, try the chat room I set up for public use: www.startupnexus.co.cc In fact, everyone here is welcome to test it out and use it to share thoughts/stories. If you're brave enough, you can talk over webcam-mic :) I used this solution to start the Masters of the Bow weekly broadcast about violin history and lectures with our resident violin historian.

Userplane.com includes video and audio chat. You can embed it into your website.
For plain old public chat purposes, it's workable, but there are a lot of buttons involved for those who want to use video chat. Also, there's a mandatory ad banner at the bottom of the console (the random ads displayed at the bottom may be a dealbreaker for you so tread carefully).

2/ Meebo. Meebo.com is also free and I've seen it used in facebook apps. A friend of mine hosted the app on facebook and I have tried the interface, which is simpler and may be a better choice. No ads either, I believe.

Let me know if you need any pointers to set one of these fellas up.

Btw, I'm an eBay seller too and your product looks exciting. Keep me posted!

answered Nov 27 '09 at 14:51
Henry The Hengineer
4,316 points
  • Way late on this but thanks for the suggestions - to you and all. Did you check out Page Mage any further? – Chris 14 years ago

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