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What Are Heatmaps & How To Improve User Experience?

Updated: Feb 22, 2023

Running your website requires you to monitor and analyze its performance constantly. You need to know how users and your users interact with your website. What were they looking for, how much did they scroll, and how long were they on your website, are three of the basic things you always need to know.

So, how can you do that.. This can be achieved with the use of heat maps. It can help you gather all that information to ensure your website is as user-friendly as possible.

In this article, we will understand what heat maps are and how you can improve user experience by using them.

What are heatmaps?

Heatmaps are like data visualization tools that use colors to represent data. They tell you which parts of the web page got the most attention from users. They use a warm-to-cool color spectrum to display the parts that received the most attention.

This helps you determine which part of your website is working and which part is not. With the help of heatmaps, you can also evaluate the performance of your products and increase customer retention and engagement, which would improve your customers’ experience when they use your website.

Now that you have an idea on what a heat map is, let’s talk about how to read one.

How to read a heatmap?

Before we go any further, one thing to know is that the more intense the color is on the heatmap, the higher the value it is denoting.

It is pretty straightforward to differentiate between high and low values on a heatmap due to the intensifying of colors.

Let’s use an example to understand it better.

This is a type of heatmap of the annual average tornado watches per year (20y Avg. 1993-2012). Yellow color denotes the highest value on the entire map, and the value decreases as the color lightens to blue. However, the white areas denote no numerical value.

You can similarly use a heatmap for your website as well. Usually, the red color areas represent the parts of the website that get the most attention, and as the color lightens, those areas receive less or no attention.

However, a question arises every time there is a conversation about heatmaps: will heatmaps reduce the speed of a website? Heatmaps are designed to have a negligible impact on the performance of your website. This is because all heatmaps execute a simple JavaScript and work on all modern browsers.

Benefits of using heatmaps

There are numerous benefits of using heatmaps, and we have listed down a few of them for you.

Heatmaps provide a visual presentation of numerical values

A picture is always easier to understand than a series of numerical figures. A heatmap paints a picture that is easy to understand and helps you analyze and measure your performance with just a glance.

Even though there are no numbers present on it, heatmaps are still as detailed as a whole MS Excel sheet full of numerical data. So, what would you prefer, a monotonous sheet of data or a visual presentation that uses colors? We think the choice would be pretty straightforward.

One more aspect in which heatmaps are better than a traditional spreadsheet is that a spreadsheet can only help you to spot the links and areas of your website with a low click rate but cannot tell you why it is so. However, when you view that same data in the form of a heatmap, you can quickly know if the reason behind the low click rate is that the link is hidden, or is not appropriately highlighted, or if there is any other reason.

Heatmaps provide an overview of key performance parameters

One of the most important benefits of using heatmaps is that they instantly draw your attention to all your website’s significant issues. There are many heatmaps, such as scroll heatmaps, click heatmaps, attention heatmaps, movement heatmaps, and geo heatmaps. We will go into detail about the differences between them later on in the article.

So, when these different heatmaps work together, they make the problem-solving task straightforward. The scroll heatmaps can easily spot the areas that don’t get much attention (cold spots), and geo heatmaps highlight the geographical locations where the conversion rate is high. All the other heatmaps have their own benefits. To sum it up, heatmaps tell you where the problem lies exactly and helps you focus all your attention on it .

Helps you create a user-friendly website

Creating and maintaining a website that everyone loves is no walk in the park. But, to help you achieve that goal, heatmaps can be of great help. Any good web designer would agree when we say that designing a user-friendly website is a continuous learning process.

You need to analyze and monitor your users’ reactions when they visit your website and adapt accordingly. Now, that may seem like a tedious task, but heatmaps are going to make that a relatively easier process.

In just a glance, you can see what parts of your website get the most attention and what gets the least. You can also easily find out what parts of your website users like by judging how much time they spend on any particular aspect of your website.

Heatmaps help you make smart decisions and improve customer experience

Heatmaps help you make intelligent decisions related to the design and structure of your website. This in turn can boost engagement and conversations, which can then lead to an increase in sales. Heatmaps are designed to help you improve your website’s overall look and feel and ensure that you focus on the parts that do not get much attention from customers, i.e., cold parts. This will, in return, increase customer experience.

A customer who is happy and satisfied with a website is more likely to make a purchase and visit again.

We talked about different types of heatmaps earlier. So, let’s talk about the difference in-depth.

Types of heatmaps

Scroll maps

A scroll map is a heatmap that visually shows how your users scroll down on a web page, irrespective of the device they use (such as desktop, mobile phone or tablet). Like any other heatmap, they use colors to denote the most and least visited parts of your webpage. The most visited parts are called hot areas, and the least visited ones are called cold areas.

Along with colors, they also provide percentage values of how many users scroll further down your webpage. It also calculates an average fold score which helps you determine which parts of your website users viewed before they started scrolling.

Click maps

A click map is a type of heatmap that displays the areas of your website your users clicked on using the cursor on a laptop or desktop and also areas where users tapped on the screen while using a mobile phone or tablet.

This will help you analyze user engagement across all your web pages, like clicks on links, images, buttons, text, etc. This will help you optimize your website and CTAs (Call to action) to increase your conversion rate.

Eye tracking

Eye tracking is a heatmap that displays the areas on your website that users find the most interesting. To use eye tracking, you need a particular type of device or have access to the user’s webcam. The only drawback to this is you would not be able to have a large sample size as many users would not consent to give access to their webcam to your website.

However, the few people that will give access can help you gain insightful knowledge of what parts of your websites are the most appealing to them and what parts are not.

Mouse tracking

Also known as hover maps, mouse tracking is a great way to gather valuable information about the taste and preferences of users. It is considered by some researchers to be the best alternative to eye tracking as you can easily see the parts on which your users hover their mouse cursors on. However, many researchers say this might not be the best alternative to eye tracking.

Confetti reports

Unlike click maps, confetti reports display each and every click your users make on your website. These reports are used to analyze whether people that visit your website are getting frustrated by interacting with the non-interactive elements of your page or even help you determine a set of users that are interested in specific elements of your page.

List of free heatmap softwares and generators

Now that you understand what heatmaps are and how you can use them to improve customer experience, it’s time to know the best free heatmap softwares and generators.

  1. Hotjar

  2. Microsoft clarity

  3. Smartlook

  4. Crazyegg

  5. Freshmarketer

  6. Fullstory

  7. Lucky Orange

  8. Mouseflow

  9. Zoho PageSense

  10. Matomo

  11. NotifyVisitors

  12. Plerdy

  13. Inspectlet

Here is everything you need to know about heatmaps. They are easy to create and very helpful in ensuring that your customers have the most optimal experience when using your website. Choose the best heatmap software or generator from the list above and get started!


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