Everything Website Designers Need To Know About HeatMaps

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Sometime back, you may have wished that you knew which areas on your website users commonly visited – possibly via a crystal ball that shows unseen things. The desire to have such knowledge is almost always persistent because no matter whatever you do, you end up throwing darts in the dark because your work may be based on assumptions. 

For instance, you may think of adding a bright red call-to-action (CTA) on the left side of your brand’s webpage. Your intentions, in this case, are pretty clear: conversion. You hope that the color red catches the reader’s attention and they click it. What happens subsequently? The site visitor may or may not click the CTA because it is not known for sure that the CTA caught his attention. 

So, how do you stop working on assumptions and get reports straight from a crystal ball that shows user activity? You use heatmaps. These are visualization tools that show you user activity in the form of colors, much like how bar charts use height and width to showcase their findings. Let’s start from the basics: 

What Are HeatMaps? 

A heatmap is a visual representation of the areas on your website that get user attention. Optimizely defines heatmaps as a graphical representation of data that uses a system of color-coding to represent different values. Heatmaps are used in various forms of analytics but are most commonly used to show user behavior and clicks on specific web pages or webpage templates. 

Such visual maps can also be used to learn the areas on a webpage that users have clicked. Moreover, these tell how far a user has scrolled down a page. Analytics tools such as Site Catalyst or Google Analytics assist in giving metrics, which reveals the pages that users visit. However, these lack the details. In contrast, heatmaps tell you where your visitor has lingered, clicked, and more on a webpage. Hence, heatmaps provide a comprehensive overview of the user behavior and visitor conversions on a site

What Do HeatMaps Help You With? 

Put simply, heatmaps help you understand the site visitors’ behavior. These give insights into consumer interactions on the webpage. You can, then, analyze and consider the results to redesign a web page’s layout and so on. As a result, you can deliver a website design that funnels visitors through to desired conversions. 

Since heatmaps use color to represent the aggregate data, they are easy to understand and use for improvement of web pages. Heatmaps are mainly of two categories namely eye-tracking heatmaps and mouse-tracking heatmaps. 

Each of these types of heatmaps is self-explanatory. Eye-tracking heatmaps analyze the users’ eye movements to learn which areas on the site they have viewed. It uses data from a sample group of people to conclude the findings, producing almost 100% accurate results. 

On the other hand, mouse-tracking heatmaps keep tabs on the users’ mouse movement to learn about his activity on the webpage. These heatmaps are generated from actual visitors, and their accuracy stands around 85-90%

Since mouse-tracking heatmaps gather data from real people, they earn more points than eye- tracking heatmaps. Plus, the former is more price effective than the latter, therefore, getting increased preference from users. 

There are multiple popular heatmap software programs out there such as Crazy Egg, FullStory, Hotjar and Tableau. Compare their prices and features to determine which option is right for your business analytics needs. 

Why Do You Need HeatMaps For Your Website? 

As mentioned, designing a website without knowing a user’s side of the story is akin to playing in the dark. User research can assist though. It takes your website designing efforts up by several notches by helping you understand generalized user behavior. 

Therefore, we can say that user research-based web designing is like working in a semi-dark playground. The next step, however, is using heatmaps. This gives an almost accurate representation of what the users are doing on a website. 

Thus, you end up designing a website in a bright field where you have a comprehensive understanding of where the user is clicking and which areas he is viewing on a webpage. It is important to note here that heatmaps require a large amount of data before they can be analyzed accurately. 

This is why these are handy when you are ‘redesigning’ a brand’s website. By the time you get to redesigning a brand’s website, there’s enough data accumulated to make a proper analysis. Subsequently, you will have an enhanced understanding of the users’ activity, which means that you can increase the ROI on the web design. 

HeatMap Studies

Research proves the usefulness of using heatmaps. One such study from the Neilson Norman Group reveals that the site visitor’s viewing time of a page decreases as he goes below the fold. 

According to the study, visitors spend 80% of their time concentrating on the content above the fold. Therefore, the closer your design places your content from the header, the most visitor attention it will get. 

The lesson learned from this study is simple. A brand’s most important information should be at the top of the page. There’s another lesson that this study teaches us. The study reveals that users viewing time significantly increases as he reaches the bottom of the webpage. Therefore, inserting a CTA at that point will drive up the conversion rate. 

Similarly, mounting evidence confirms that the left side of a webpage gets substantial user experience. Heatmaps assist Web Design Services in understanding which areas of the left side on a webpage show greatest user impressions. 

Therefore, as a designer, you can add the value proposition on the left side of the webpage. The same is captured in the following study too, which indicates that the left side received 59% of the viewing time. This is almost two times as much as the attention on a website’s left hand in contrast with the right side. 

HeatMaps Are Heating Up 

To sum it up, heatmaps are valuable web analytics tools that significantly improve your web design. These give you insights into consumer interactions. Consequently, you can redesign brand websites in an optimized fashion that can increase customer engagement. 

Moreover, you can employ heatmaps to learn if visitors can locate search options easily, whether the navigation bar is working, whether visitors are reading the content, and how much of it among other things. Heatmaps provide your web design the analytics edge that it needs. 

AUTHOR BIO: Erica Silva is a blogger who loves to discover and explore the world around her. She writes on everything from marketing to technology, science and brain health. She enjoys sharing her discoveries and experiences with readers and believes her blogs can make the world a better place. Find her on Twitter: @ericadsilva1


I hope you enjoyed this blog post about everything your company needs to know about HeatMaps for its web design and analytics.

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