When it comes to website analytics, heatmaps are an excellent tool for providing you with the best information about user behavior on your website. It gives you a graphical and color-coded representation of the content your users are consuming on the site. Therefore, you can see which parts of the page users are clicking on, how far they scroll down the site and even check data from eye-tracking applications.

Once the heat mapping tool has been installed, it starts tracking the activity of users on your website. In most cases, unique users are tracked so that you do not risk polluting the collected data.

When creating a heatmap, the site page is divided into several interactive sections and elements. These are grouped into bigger parent elements. Each individual is tracked in regards to the different types of interactivity, be it a mouse hover, click or scroll. These activities are tracked and reported in real-time, making heatmaps a powerful tool for your website.

Through this form of data visualization, where a cold-to-warm color scheme is used to visualize the user experience, you can draw several conclusions during the various testing phases of your website and make distinctive changes that greatly improve the user interface. Hence, website heatmaps are often referred to as visual storytellers.

Heatmaps move beyond charts and bars and represent crucial information for optimization in an easy to digest manner.


What is a heat-mapping tool?

A heat-mapping tool is a script that allows you to create different types of heatmaps for your sites. Some popular heat-mapping tools are:

  • Hotjar – Provides heatmaps, analytics, session replays, funnels, surveys and a lot more.
  • ClickTale – Empowers you to optimize sites, both on desktop and mobile platforms, and maximize revenue.
  • Crazy Egg – Covers all your heatmap needs with click maps, scroll maps and identifies profitable portions of your website.
  • Inspectlet – Provides heatmaps, session playback recordings, analytics and much more.
  • Seevolution – Provides heatmap, scroll map, screen recording, and website analytics services.

Choosing the right tools for the job will translate into the best user experience optimizations on your website.

When should you use website heatmaps?

Website heatmaps offer a clear picture of how users interact with your website and which parts of the page are the most interactive.

For most website and business owners, it’s important to optimize sites to reap concrete benefits and ensure that users are getting what they want. So, through website heatmaps, and all the data gathered, you will be able to make optimization decisions and ensure call-to-action clicks.

How to use a heat map?

Select the right type of heatmap tool to fit for your website type and use-case, select the pages you want to generate heatmap data on, and then install and configure the specific heat-mapping tool.

Once the data is generated, you can start using the heatmap to optimize your site.


What are the different types of website heatmps?

There are a few types of website heatmaps that you can take note from in order to make effective changes to your site:

1.   Heatmap

The objective of a good website is ensuring that the most important content is visible to the end-user. Moreover, it should answer any questions your customers may have regarding your product. Therefore, with the heatmap, you can visually represent the customer expectations and tailor your site to meet user needs.

2.   Clickmap

Clickmaps are simple, they visualize which parts of your site are being clicked by users. More importantly, it allows you to identify the parts of your site users interact with the most and the least. In addition to the elements on your site, it allows you to identify navigation issues on your website. There are several things on your site you would want to track through clickmaps.

3.   Scrollmap

Scrollmaps visualize the scrolling behavior of your site visitors. With this, you will get an accurate representation of how far down your content users are willing to scroll before falling off. Therefore, you will be able to place critical elements of your site in the places the user is most likely to scroll through. If your user is losing interest before reaching a core part of your web page, it’s time to redesign both the content and the design, so that important content is not ignored.

4.   Mouse Tracking Heatmap

A mouse tracking heatmap, often called a Hover Map, shows places on your web page where the user hovered the cursor over the most. These heatmaps reveal several pieces of useful information. First, you will be able to identify if users are hovering over the critical elements of your site, including advertisements, CTAs and important navigation links. In addition to this, by analyzing where the user spends time, you will be able to identify parts of your page users might find confusing, or difficult to read.

5.   Eye-Tracking Heatmap

Mouse tracking and eye tracking heatmaps are quite similar, however, the latter provides you with information about how interesting and attention-grabbing elements on your page are. With test users, you can employ an eye-tracking heatmap and visualize which parts of your site are most looked at, primarily images, which content is skimmed through and read through, and important, whether CTA elements are overshadowed by other distractions. With the power of an eye-tracking heatmap, you can design a site that grabs the user’s attention only to the vital parts of your site.


When should you use a particular type of heatmap?

We’ve just discussed that there are several types of heatmaps in your arsenal. So, when should you use a particular one?

  • When trying to identify the ideal length of content on your site, you should use a scrollmap. With this, you will be able to design your content around the attention span of your user.
  • To identify which sections of your site users hover over for more information or read through, use a mouse tracking heatmap.
  • To anticipate hyperlinking opportunities such as images and icons, use a clickmap.
  • To identify friction in the user experience, use a clickmap.
  • To identify whether a critical business element is getting attention, use a clickmap and mouse tracking heatmap.
  • To identify if non-essential content is taking attention away from your CTAs, use a mouse tracking heatmap and clickmap.

Detailed Use Cases of a Heatmap

Heatmaps can be used on different pages on your website for different purposes. Moreover, they are most effective in this way as each type of heatmap provides different insights into the matter. Here are some of the main use cases:

Product Page

A heat map of your product page can reveal more than you can expect from simply website analytics. 

For instance, the organization of the products on the page can help users find the products they need and want faster. If Product A is listed a little way down the page, but a heat map reveals that people are clicking more on Product A, you will be able to customize the visibility of Product A so that it appears near the top of the page, making it much easier to find and therefore push users to learn more about it and as a result buy it more. 

Here, you have a lower chance of someone missing that particular product in case they did not scroll down far enough or find it on the page at all. 

Through this simple scenario, we can see the power of a heat map on a product page wherein the visibility of a popular product is determined.

Checkout Page

Once a user has completed selecting the products, it’s time to head to the checkout page.

However, if important product information is not visible on this page, the user might navigate back and forth trying to check things. At worst, you are looking at a customer who will drop-off at the point of sale right before making a purchase. 

With a clever heatmap implemented in this portion of your website, you will be able to identify which aspects of the page are important to your users. From there, make design changes to optimize the layout of the page to make it more appealing and readable to the user. 

Through this, you will be able to retain the user, offer a better checkout experience, and possibly, offer more items to purchase.

Website Navigation

Google Analytics allows you to track hits on various parts of your website. However, this is solely based on the link but not where the user has navigated from. 

For example, if you navigate to a certain page on your website, and the link leading to that page is both near the bottom of the page and tucked away in the navigation bar, a heatmap will reveal which link users are clicking on more to navigate to that particular page. 

From here, you can decide to either make the most used link more visible to the user, so that they may find it more quickly than the less-used one. Or, remove the other one completely to reduce visual clutter. However, this comes at a cost of fewer navigation choices, for users who will be interacting with the page differently.

Intent and Action

Often you will have cards to text combined with visual elements to display certain information on your site, be it about products or features. 

In many cases, the visual elements are there just for show and the actual hyperlinked text is to navigate to a page with more information. However, a heatmap of user interaction for that page may reveal that many users are clicking on the visual elements as well to navigate to a page for more info. 

Here, you will be able to make a guided decision to make the pictures and icons clickable as well so that it navigates to the same page.

Page Length and Content Engagement

If you run a blog site with a lot of content per post, you might want to see whether users are reading the full article before clicking off or just skimming through it all. This is where scrolling heatmaps come into play. 

These visualize the areas of your page the users spend the most time on. That is, through the use of a scrollable heatmap, you will be able to judge which parts of your content are disinteresting to your users and which parts are the most engaging. 

Furthermore, through this, you will even be able to adjust the length of your content to match your user’s attention span, or have cleverly placed snippets of content in the most visible and prominent areas of your web page.

Homepage

The most important page of your website will be the one most benefited by a heatmap. 

With a heatmap, you will be able to identify the most intractable parts of your website and focus your user experience improvements there. 

Moreover, identifying cold areas can help you understand which parts are not appealing to your users and redesign accordingly. 

Ensuring that the homepage of your website represents your brand, provides enough information to encourage the user to dig deeper into your site and allows quick navigation to the portions they are interested in is essential in delivering a good user experience.


How to use Clickmaps Effectively?

A clickmap is one of the best ways to improve the user experience of your website. There are several elements on your website which allows you to understand the interactivity of your website.

  • Navigation: One of the most important parts of your website is the ease of navigation. With easy navigation, you will be able to get users around your website in a smooth manner, help them get the most amount of information and finally, convert their interactions into purchases and improve your revenue. The navigation of your website should match user expectations, otherwise, it will make for a bad experience, putting off users from your site. For instance, if clicking on a product link navigates the user to the main product description page, you will be defying expectations. With a clickmap, you can identify if the user clicks on the product link and if the expected result is retrieved.
  • Images: With clickmaps, you can track clicks on the images on your website. This way, you can track the images hosted on your site, and check which ones the users are clicking versus the ones users don’t care much about. Moreover, this allows you to organize the images in a manner that aligns with visitor expectations. For example, for a commercial webstore, visitors often click pictures of the product to navigate around. If the images are not hyperlinked, the clicks will not navigate to the product specific page and hinder the user experience. Not only will this make navigating the site more difficult, but it also introduces a lot of friction in the user experience. Through the use of clickmaps, you can track this behavior and make subsequent changes in the codebase to facilitate hyperlinked images for smoother navigation and better user experience.
  • Links: Ensuring that all links on your site are functional and meet user expectations requires an ample amount of data. However, with a clickmap, you can aggregate all the data and visualize it simply to quickly draw conclusions and optimize your site.
  • Call-To-Action: The visibility of CTAs on your website are essential in converting user clicks to revenue. Therefore, through a clickmap, you should be able to understand which CTAs on your site are being clicked on, and others which are ignored. From here, you can make design choices to increase their visibility and ensure that they are on the most popular places on your web page.

What are the benefits of using heatmaps?

Heatmaps allow you to quantify several metrics about your website and make positive optimization decisions. In essence, with heatmaps, you can:

  • Measure website performance and optimize content distribution and length.
  • Simplify numeric data to a visual form, and perform transformative analysis which translates to an optimized website.
  • Identify the primary failure points in your website’s design and experience.
  • Meet user expectations, rather than redesigning without concrete data.
  • Convert user actions to revenue.

Site Analytics vs Heatmap Analytics

It’s a known fact that if you want a successful website, your site will have to generate a lot of healthy traffic. This is where familiar tools like Google Analytics come in. They provide visiting metrics of your sites but, they lack details about which parts of a page the users are interacting with and consuming. This is very important as it goes a long way in understanding how users perceive your content, and more importantly, how you can improve the website by making important features, offers and content more visible to the end-user.

Easier Interpretation

Heatmaps are color-coded visuals displayed right on top of your website and show all the areas your users are most proactive. This form of representation is much easier to interpret, especially for site owners without extensive knowledge of how site metrics work. Through a highly visual heatmap, you can quickly conclude which parts of your site need more work, which parts need to be completely redesigned due to a lack of visibility and which parts are not as accessible to users.


Heatmap Usage on your Website – Limitations and Requirements

Data is one of your main hindrances. To have a good representation of the average user on your webpage, and get the right amount of information visualized in a heatmap, you will need a lot of user data. Drawing conclusions from heat maps generated from minimal user data will lead to incorrect conclusions and false impressions.

One of the most important aspects of heatmaps is the fact that it visualizes what happens on your website. Often, this is misinterpreted. The key discriminator from other forms of analytics is the fact that through a heatmap, you will not be able to immediately conclude that a particular part of the webpage just isn’t right for your user. Here, heatmaps cannot tell you why a certain user behaves the way he or she does on your website, but only tell what behavior was shown.

The Limitations of Heatmap Usage for Forms

A heat map tracks a mouse. If your user uses their keyboard to navigate the page, be it through tabbing or scrolling, your heat map will not be accurate for that particular usage instance. This problem is more apparent when it comes to forms. If you have a form on your website, for example, a simple survey, a heat map will be able to tell you which parts of the form the user has interacted with and which parts were most interacted with based on the user’s mouse clicks. However, if the form has been navigated with the keyboard rather than the mouse, you will notice that, after the first portion of the form, the rest of the areas in the heat map will be shown as cold areas. This is simply because the heat map is made incorrectly due to keyboard navigation, giving you an incorrect metric for further analysis.

Here, it is better to use dedicated form analytics tools that will be able to tell you exactly how users interact with forms on your website.


Concluding Remarks

Heatmaps are not the silver bullet to your engagement analytics. However, they offer numerous advantages to your analysts and allow you to draw different conclusions. As long as you do not conclude small amounts of data. In addition to this, you should ensure that your changes are valid through repeated experimentation and validation. One example of this A/B integration with heatmaps. Through A/B tests and heatmap interaction on your website, you will be able to conclusively ascertain which parts of your website need more work. 

With the right efforts, heatmaps can be a powerful tool for your website, and help you organize your content, products and much more effectively. Using a combination of different heat maps will help you understand your customer demographic and deliver well-optimized content as well as services.