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Heatmaps: What They Are and Why You Should Use Them

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Heatmaps: What They Are, How They Work & Why You Should Use Them
12 Nov

Heatmaps: What They Are and Why You Should Use Them
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(Last Updated On: November 12, 2019)

Do you know exactly which parts of your website are favored by your visitors? 

Wouldn’t it be great to know why your visitors click one call to action button on your website and not another? Or to know how much of your blog articles they read? That’s the power of heatmaps! 

In this article, we’ll explain what a heatmap is, how they work, and why you should use them. We’ll also give you some tools you can use to create heatmaps and start making great website designs and eCommerce decisions.

Let’s get started with the definition of a heatmap.

What Is a Heatmap? 

A heatmap is a graphical representation of a website analytics dataset. It uses colors to depict important bits of information, so it’s easy for online marketers to assess their website visitors’ on-screen behavior. For example, dark colors on a heatmap may represent the areas of your website that users engaged with the most.

It’s much easier to look at a heatmap than at a spreadsheet that’s loaded with complex data sets. Heatmaps make website analysis interesting, fun, visually appealing, and efficient.

If you haven’t seen what a website heatmap looks like, here’s an example of one: 

Keep reading to learn how to use heath maps
Image credit: Conversion XL

Here, the darker orange color represents the parts of the webpage that get the most user attention, while the light blue and yellow colors represent the parts that don’t. Can you imagine using an analytics report full of raw data, like screen coordinates, to get the same information?

Some popular heatmap tools include the following:

  • Hotjar, which is excellent for monitoring online user behavior, learning about the psychology of your prospects, and seeking customer feedback.
  • Crazyegg, which is used by over 300,000 websites. It integrates A/B testing and heatmaps to help you improve website performance.
  • LuckyOrange, which uses webpage session recordings to create heatmaps that help you learn why website visitors leave your site before taking the action you intended for them to take.

You can think of a heatmap as more of a visual storytelling tool that reveals what your website visitors do on your site. This is why heatmaps differ from other analytics tools like Google Analytics, which aren’t capable of recording on-screen behavior and can only record on-screen actions.

For instance, in the following heatmap that monitors visitor clicks, the story being told is about where website visitors clicked the most. It seems like the search bar and the email subscription tabs are the most popular. 

Heat maps can be very useful to optimize your site
Image credit: The Daily Egg

But website clicks aren’t the only thing heatmaps can help you monitor.

As we’ll discuss in the next section, you can track things like the amount of time a visitor spent on each section of a webpage, the parts of a page where the user hovered their mouse cursor the most and how far down a webpage a user scrolls.

Types of Heatmaps

In most cases, website owners analyze heatmaps to answer the following questions:

  • Are people seeing the important content on my website? 
  • Are people clicking on the calls to action that I want them to click? 
  • How do people behave towards the non-clickable parts of my webpages? 
  • Are people focused on relevant sections of my webpages or are they easily distracted? 
  • How well are users engaging with my site on different devices?

To uncover these insights, website owners can use different types of heatmaps, including the following:

  • Click Heatmaps. This type of heatmap can help analyze which parts of the webpage get the most clicks and which parts get the least clicks.
  • Scroll Heatmaps. These use a dark-to-light color transition to show how far down a page a viewer scrolls. The darker section shows where users spent the most time, and the lighter color shows the content that got mostly ignored.

If you look at this scroll heatmap of the Careers page on the Hotjar website, it’s clear that the majority of users only scroll to the Current Openings section of the page. The map shows that users don’t view the bottom of the page, as demonstrated by the dark blue color that appears far down the page, where employer reviews are located.

Learn how to read heath maps
Optimize your website with heath maps
Image credit: Hotjar
  • Traffic Segmentation Heatmaps. They present website traffic data by categorizing it into customer segments based on demographic information like age, location, etc. 
  • Move Heatmaps. These monitor mouse cursor movements on a webpage, uncovering how focused or distracted a user is while they’re on that page.
  • Mobile & Desktop Heatmaps. They’re snapshots for both your mobile website and your desktop website so you know how your users interact with both versions. 

You should use heatmaps to analyze your website traffic on the pages that impact your business performance the most. This could be the home page, the contact page, your blog page, where you ask users to subscribe, or any poor-performing product pages where you want to monitor what’s holding users back from making a purchase.

You should use heatmaps to analyze your website traffic on the pages that impact your business performance

Why You Should Use Heatmaps

Heatmaps help website owners make critical business, design, and technology decisions fast.

For instance, if you discover that no one is scrolling past a certain point on a webpage, you know you need to change something about the ignored section to make it more engaging. Or you might discover that one of your call to action buttons is never used; in response, you can make changes to that button so it will stand out and attract more clicks.

Another great way to utilize heatmaps is in A/B testing, in which you test and compare two versions of a webpage. Then, when you analyze the heatmap results, you’ll know which webpage version will get you more conversions.

Heatmaps are an excellent way to uncover what’s not working on your webpage so you can then strategically redesign it to improve the performance of your site. They’re a lot more visual than analytics tools like Google Analytics, and, therefore, they make it easier for website owners to uncover valuable insights.

When used with screen recording tools and customer feedback surveys, heatmaps are great for helping you learn about your visitors’ behavior on your site. You kill two birds with one stone by tracking your customer behavior and also collecting feedback from your customers in real-time! No other analytics tool allows you to do that. 

We recommend using heatmaps as both a diagnostics tool to figure out what’s wrong with your website’s performance and also as a monitoring tool to regularly audit user behavior in order to boost conversions and make your website user-friendly.

Understand how to use heatmaps for your website
Image credit: Invision App

Wrapping It Up

Heatmaps are a valuable tool for any professional with a role to play in improving website performance.

You could be a product manager leading a sales team, a business owner, an online marketer, a blogger, or anyone who owns a website. 

The information that heatmaps provide is so intuitive and has so many uses—they are a great weapon to have in your arsenal of analytics tools. Make the most of heatmaps and the information they can reveal. They’ll help you give your prospects an awesome website experience that keeps them coming back!

María Bustillos

María is an enthusiast of cinema, literature and digital communication. As Content Coordinator at HostPapa, she focuses on the publication of content for the blog and social networks, organizing the translations, as well as writing and editing articles for the KB.

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