Why Website Heatmaps Are Important In UX Content Design

Website Heatmaps will show you if it’s capturing attention or getting ignored. And if you are wondering if users are really engaging with your latest update, you can easily determine if your changes work. Stop guessing where users click! Don’t let hunches determine how to improve your product. Get reliable data from real users to prioritize what you build.

You’ll also be able to spot issues you couldn’t predict. Find the issues that QA misses, whether it’s buttons that can’t be clicked or content that won’t load. According to BuiltWith, over 100 million websites employ some form of analytics or user-tracking software. Thus, the need for digital transformation and online experience investments.

More so, across many industries. And, it’s clearer than ever that understanding how customers navigate and interact with your website or app is no longer optional. But, an imperative to every web business’s success too. It’s also no surprise that of all websites using visitor tracking and web traffic analysis tools, over half have installed Google Analytics.

After all, it’s a free tool that offers a basic understanding of how people find your digital business and which pages receive the most visits. But even Google is starting to acknowledge that metrics like page visits, and even time spent on a website, are not reliable indicators of a positive user experience. Only tracking page visits and referral traffic fails to give you the complete picture of how customers interact with your digital business.

Related Topic: How Scroll Heatmaps Help Optimize Site Depth Conversions

As a result, Google will soon roll out a new Page Experience Signal, which will measure a combination of site performance and experience metrics, and push sites with more user-friendly digital experiences to the top of search results. Given that Google doesn’t intend to outline different metrics weighted in this assessment, it’s critical that you have additional, at-a-glance insights into how users are experiencing your website or application.

While Google is refining the criteria they use to rank pages, the ways we interact with websites, products, and applications continue to expand beyond simply clicking and typing. Now, visitors swipe, scroll, highlight, and pinch their way through digital experiences, creating additional data points to monitor and measure.

This means your teams have an ever-growing amount of data to analyze. Uncovering which digital experience improvements will move the needle can prove a challenge for even the most sophisticated digital experience teams–which is why you need a way to break through the noise and extract valuable insight.

What Are Website Heatmaps?

Website Heatmaps are one of the quickest ways to visualize and analyze large datasets. Find out what heatmaps are, how they’re created, and how you can use them to make data-driven decisions. They are powerful tools to understand what your users do on your website—where they click, how far they scroll, what they engage with, and more.

Generally, Website Heatmaps are a method of representing data graphically where values are depicted by color, making it easy to visualize complex data and understand it at a glance. Heatmaps can be created by hand, though modern heatmaps are generally created using specialized heatmapping software. Every website is different.

Heatmaps allow you to:
  • Track user behavior
  • Evaluate user interests in your website
  • Understand what’s ignored on your website
  • Test call-to-actions
  • Find out what causes friction
  • Catch page abandonment in action
  • Optimize conversion rate and UX design

In reality, it’s good to find the heatmap tools that best suit your business needs. On that note, click maps and scroll maps are the most popular types of heatmaps, but there are many other types. A variety of color schemes can be used when creating heatmaps, including grayscale and rainbow. Rainbow-schemed maps are often preferred.

Although, since humans can perceive more shades of color than they can of gray (though there are drawbacks). Generally speaking, warmer colors—reds and oranges—represent “more used” or “more popular” sections, while cooler colors—blues and purples—represent less frequently used sections of your map.

A few heatmap examples:

  • Streaming services like Netflix use heatmaps to optimize their viewing experience,
    • They identify target audiences’ interests, understand which recommendations users look at and which they ignore
  • The stock market uses heatmaps to identify trends in the market at a glance.
    • It uses a cold to hot color scheme to analyze stock options.
  • Sports teams use heatmaps to plot players’ performance, identify patterns for improvement, and study rival strategies.

But, it’s important to realize, each site heatmap works differently, though. For example, click maps typically use different shades of one color: the darker the color the more that area is clicked.

Why Should You Use Website Heatmaps? 

First of all, website heatmaps visually (visualize user behavior) represent where users click, move, and scroll on your site. Secondly, they allow you to discover what attracts attention—see what elements users are drawn towards, and the parts they completely miss. By so doing, you’ll also learn what users ignore—exactly where users stop scrolling and leave.

As shown in this video, Hotjar has more than 7.5 million heatmaps created for some of the world’s largest sites.

Benefits Rundown:
  • Visualize user behavior
  • Discover what attracts attention
  • Learn what gets ignored
  • Analyze behavior pre- & post-launch
  • Compare desktop, tablet, and mobile

Thirdly, they allow you to analyze users’ behavior in regards to pre- & post-launch—see where users move, click, and scroll before and after you release a change. Not forgetting, you can also easily use them to compare users’ experience on desktop, tablet, and mobile—learn how behavior changes depending on the device your user is on.

In nutshell, website heatmaps help you track visitor behavior visually so you can make some improvements to your site around your goals. They highlight which site areas people are engaging with, which areas are working, which aren’t, and which areas your users are avoiding. These insights help you make data-driven changes—not just guessing.

Website heatmaps can help you determine if:
  • There is important content on a page that visitors aren’t getting to
  • Users are having trouble finding or seeing certain CTAs
  • Users are experiencing issues based on device type or browser
  • Non-clickable elements are creating distractions that harm conversion

At many organizations, website heatmaps are part of larger conversion rate optimization (CRO) efforts, since they’re mainly used to improve conversion rates. The key benefit is that they simplify complex numerical data sets into easily understood visuals. Additionally, they are powerful tools for use cases and applications across many industries.

How Website Heatmaps Work

Perse, Heatmaps are visual representations of user reactions on various pages on your website, providing visual context for easy analysis. They help you gather visitor behavior insights, which you can then use to customize your website to better meet visitors’ expectations—increasing conversions, reducing bounce rates, or boosting sales, among other goals.

Heatmaps are an easy way to contextualize aggregate user trends for any given web page. Oftentimes, they are used to reveal clicks and taps on a web page, where each page element on the page is color-coded according to how popular it is. The most-clicked or tapped elements might be bright red, while the less-clicked fade toward cooler colors.

How Does Website Heatmaps Work?

When used on websites, heatmaps help identify user behavior that helps you optimize your site. For example, heatmaps let you easily see high-level user behavior: if nobody is tapping one of your most important page elements, then that suggests you might want a new design to increase engagement.

Further, different types of heatmaps can help you understand different elements of your website. For example, a click map reveals the most-clicked elements on your website, while a scroll map depicts how far users scroll down on a given page. There are also error click maps, dead click maps, and more.

The Main Types of Website Heatmaps

How a heatmap is created depends on the type. There are multiple types, but they can generally be bucketed into two categories: interaction and attention heatmaps.

  • Interaction Website Heatmaps measure different types of engagements and use tracking codes to record interactions between a user and a website, like clicks, scrolls, mouse movements, and more.
  • Attention Website Heatmaps are more complex and monitor how users look at your website content by monitoring or predicting their eye movements.

There are many different types of heatmaps that offer different insights. It’s usually best practice to combine multiple types of heatmaps to get the truest picture of user behavior. And now, let’s look at the key types of heatmaps.

They include:
  1. Click Maps
  2. Scroll Maps
  3. Mouse-Tracking Clickmaps
  4. Eye Tracking Heatmaps
  5. Error Click Heatmaps
  6. Dead Click Heatmaps
  7. Rage Click Heatmaps
  8. AI-Generated Heatmaps

But, before we learn more about each type of heatmap as listed above, it’s good to answer this question. Who can benefit from using heatmaps? Well, because of the variety of data that you can glean and analyze, heat mapping software can benefit many different teams in any organization. Below is an overview of how different departments can gain from website heatmaps.

User Experience (UX) Designers

Technically, a majority of User Experience (UX) Designers are often responsible for testing on their site or app. And, as such, heatmaps can supplement their testing methods. For example, UX designers can use them for usability testing to understand whether their content inspires users to take action, identify patterns of behavior, and determine whether your CTAs are well-placed.

Heatmaps can also be used to strengthen the insights from A/B experiments and can be applied both to your control and the variable you’re testing. If your variable doesn’t perform as well as you expected, you’ll know why. With one of these tools in your back pocket, even “failed” tests can provide valuable learnings.

Digital Online Marketers

As for Digital Online Marketers, they all know that the competition for customers’ attention is greater than ever. And, the best way to convert more leads is by considering a Traffic Acquisition Cost (TAC) that is ever-increasing. Unsurprisingly, it’s critical to get as much value from your site traffic as possible.

Using heatmaps, marketers can understand which parts of a page or an advertisement people’s eyes gravitate toward, and which parts tend to be ignored. This knowledge allows you to place the most important element—like a special offer or a Call To Action (CTA) button—on the most-seen part of a page.

Data Content Analysts

For Data Content Analysts, they can provide the critical yet often-missing data that turn analysis into actionable insights and business outcomes. Using heatmaps let you combine qualitative and quantitative data in ways that add depth and context to analyses. Where other methods may only allow you to count clicks on a button, heat mapping tools can greatly help.

Especially, in order for you to understand what happened before, after, and in between those clicks—critical information for understanding your user’s behavior. What’s more, heatmaps are highly visual by nature, allowing digital analysts to see and understand complex data sets at a glance before digging in deeper.

The Best Heatmapping Software To Dive Into

As you can see, website heatmaps are a critical tool in your digital experience toolbox. Alongside scroll maps, error click, dead click, and Rage Click™️ maps, a good Heatmapping Software lets you analyze user funnels. Or even conversion rates, watch session replays, and more. Equally important, they must also have a Digital Experience Intelligence Platform.

More so, in order for you to combine quantitative and qualitative data for 360º understanding of your website—letting you perfect your digital experience. Website heatmaps provide insights into user behavior, making them a valuable tool for businesses. Specifically, a heatmap uses color-coding to visually represent how users browse your website.

With that in mind, heatmaps are some of the most important data marketers can analyze to make their websites more effective. And knowing the kinds of heatmaps at your disposal can help you understand where user behavior patterns are emerging. And how you can make changes to meet their needs. Below are the details of key heatmaps you can measure and utilize.

#1: Click Maps 

Click maps are one of the most popular types of heatmaps and show you where users clicked on your page. Whilst, offering insights into how people use your website or a page of your website. With click maps, you can see which elements on your site are most or least clicked, which can reveal where there are navigational issues.

Additionally, click maps can also help you improve website ROI by placing and monitoring effective CTA buttons; helping you identify and remove areas that are causing user friction and increasing bounce rates; showing which areas of your site are most popular, and monitoring conversion rates for new and returning visitors.

There are a few things to watch out for when using click maps, though. Improper analysis can occur from accidental multiple login usage, or frustrated clicks that can skew data analysis. As well as miscellaneous issues caused by browser/device incompatibilities, among other shortcomings.

An Example of a Site Clickmaps in the FullStory Platform

Like with any heatmap, visitor click maps need to be paired with other data—data points from product analytics tools, Google Analytics, UX surveys, or elsewhere—to get a full picture of why users are behaving in a way.

#2: Scroll Maps

In the same way that click maps represent where users click, scroll maps are a visual representation of visitors’ scrolling behavior on a web page. Scroll maps tell you how many visitors scrolled through a page to the bottom, how many visitors scrolled through a page but stopped short of the bottom, etc. As well as how many visitors abandoned a page.

Or rather, what percentage of users scrolled to certain depths on a web page. For example, 34% of visitors scrolled 50% of the way down a page, 13% of visitors scrolled all the way to the bottom, etc. Understanding how far the average visitor scrolls before navigating away can help you determine the ideal length of web pages. It can also help you decide where to put content on a page.

If, for example, you find that only 25% of visitors scroll below the fold (below where your screen cuts off the rest of the page) on a page, you know that you need to put the most important content at the very top of the page. Scroll maps can also help you understand if your web page has a false floor (or false bottom). More so, where visitors believe they’ve reached the bottom of a page but actually have not.

When using scroll maps, always look at metrics for both desktop, tablet, and mobile devices. All in all, using and analyzing scroll maps can show if important content is being ignored. And even help you understand how a page should be redesigned to maximize its impact.

#3: Mouse-Tracking Clickmaps

Rather than tracking mouse clicks, mouse-tracking maps track general mouse movement. They help spot frustrated users by showing where people are hovering, hesitating, or thrashing their cursor on a web page.

Research shows an association between where users are looking and where their mouse cursor is, which is what makes mouse-tracking heat maps informative. Mouse-tracking also helps you identify hover patterns that show areas of visitor friction or frustration. As well as a way to optimize complex web pages with dynamic elements, etc.

They can also help you estimate the relevance of search results by the volume of clicks. Though there’s a relationship between where users look and their cursor location, the two are not identical. And, can sometimes lead to faulty insights.

#4: Eye Tracking Heatmaps

Eye-tracking heatmaps use a sensor technology that tracks the movements of users’ eyes when they are using a web page. This type of technology can monitor eye movement, blinking, and pupil dilation. To analyze where on a page a user’s attention is focused. This type of data gives you insights into how well a web page’s design is working to help you create a more user-friendly layout.

Eye-tracking heat maps can reveal information about a visitor’s gaze pattern. After which, this enables you to put a web page’s most important elements in the most-looked at locations on the page. Typically, eye-tracking maps provide extremely accurate data. Particularly, by showing exactly what users are looking at on your web page.

They can be validated through comparison with mouse-tracking data. However, eye-tracking tools are expensive, usually resulting in data based on a small user sample. Additionally, some users are aware and wary of eye-tracking, and use camera covers to avoid being surveyed.

#5: Error Click Heatmaps

On one side, error click heatmaps occur when a user clicks on an element of a web page that triggers some sort of error. Like a client-side JavaScript error or a console error. Even though the user may or may not realize they’ve triggered an error. Thus, you can use error clicks to specifically investigate console errors or uncaught exceptions.

Then, you can use your Digital Experience Intelligence tool to view all sessions that contain the same error and determine how to resolve the issue. Encountering errors or site glitches can be highly frustrating for your users. Error-click maps let you quickly uncover and fix bugs—drastically enhancing user experience.

#6: Dead Click Heatmaps

On the other side, site users mistake un-clickable elements on a website or app as a button. And then tap it expecting something to happen—resulting in a dead click. Dead Click Heatmaps reveal which non-functioning elements on your site or app are being mistaken for buttons. So that you can figure out how to reduce user confusion and frustration.

They can also help understand behavioral trends over time to identify new opportunities, and proactively weed out user confusion to optimize conversions.

#7: Rage Click Heatmaps

Rage Clicks are used to identify areas of friction or frustration by showing areas where users rapidly click (or tap) an element on your site. Remarkably, Rage Clicks might occur when users mistake a static element for a button and expect something to happen, or when a button isn’t functioning properly and triggers an error.

Rage click maps show all the areas that users click in frustration. (After all, wouldn’t you want to know if the most highly Rage-Clicked element on your website is the “confirm purchase” button?). Sometimes, it’s difficult to predict where users will become frustrated. This is why using your Digital Experience Intelligence solution to monitor rage clicks can be so helpful. With Rage Click maps, you can reproduce and fix unexpected bugs to identify and correct CTA confusion.

As well as to increase conversions and increase ROI by reducing product friction. Or even watch out for false positives in your Rage Click analysis. Bearing in mind, this can occur if a user is rapidly clicking through a multi-page app, for instance. It’s always best practice to pair your Rage Click analysis with watching session replays.

#8: AI-Generated Heatmaps

As for AI-generated heatmaps, this type of heatmap uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to generate visual representations of user attention data created by software algorithms. So rather than showing what users actually are paying attention to on your website, companies like EyeQuant and Attention Insight specialize in AI-generated heatmaps.

More so, in order to show what users are likely to pay attention to on your website. Realistically, AI-generated heatmaps predict future user behavior. By imitating the first three to five seconds of users’ attention on a website. More so, to identify which elements are looked at most and least.

By predicting where users will look when they first navigate to a website, AI-generated heatmaps can help you understand where to place critical elements. And, you can easily improve future pages and sites. Additionally, they have up to 95% accuracy and are more affordable than eye-tracking technology.

However, AI-generated maps typically aren’t effective on websites with low traffic or engagement. The reason is, there are fewer actions to predict and learn from.

Summary Notes:

In general, a website heatmap is a true representation of all visitor actions—whether that be engagement, frustration, or friction—heatmaps showcase it all. Personally, I’ve come to a conclusion that; heatmaps are incredibly resourceful for any website looking for insights on users.

With a FullStory DXI Solution, for instance, you can access your colorful new heatmaps. Or even Click Maps—with Page Insights from within any session replay. Get a high-level view of how your user is engaging with just about anything.

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