heat maps

Want to know what the user is precisely clicking on based on the interaction information you’ve received from the analytics tools? While analytic tools provide an overall view of how the user navigated through the website, the precise choices made are hard to tell. To overcome this limitation of unveiling the precise interaction with the website, heat maps are the best choice. True to its name, heat maps are hot maps which depict regions of high interaction by condensing those to hot zones. Similar to the visual in most sci-fi movies where alien life perceive animate from inanimate objects as color concentrations, a heat map denotes regions of high activity with red color and cold regions with blue.

Heatmap are technically defined as a mode of two-dimensional data representation wherein the values are depicted as color codes to simplify the understanding of the date presented within. Heat maps use a spectrum of colors which is limited to blue, orange, red and yellow. Areas which are represented in blue are those with minimum time spent or clicked least. Red depicts the regions which are clicked the most or where the cursor lingered the longest. A combination of colors reveals the differential time spent by one user on the website at a particular point.


Information provided by a heat map

Information received from the heat map is best understood when it is supplemented with the data provided by Google Analytics. Data provided by heat maps is not quantitative like Google Analytics but qualitative to record the user interaction within the site. A heat map provides information such as the landing page areas with the highest clicks, the sections where most time is spent and parts of the page which draw maximum attention. Heat maps answer these important questions:

1. Is there confusion in navigation?
When the heat map shows red in the region which doesn’t contain a link, it means that there is confusion in navigation. You might want to reconsider the placement of the element which may appear as a link or make it a link, after all.

2. Are the visitors getting distracted? When the flow through the website is erratic and not as intended, there could be a problem with the navigation. Navigation ideally must flow from one item to next in order to maintain high conversion rates.

3. What is your visitor most interested in? Visual cues are provided with the region which is dense in red or orange. These are regions with high conversation rates with the users.

4. Is the web design working? When the heat map is not concentrated red on the regions where it is expected, you know that the design is not working as it should. Alternately, if the form for lead capture is cold, you have a problem.

5. Are the images serving their intended purpose? Heat maps are the best assessment tools for the effectiveness of images. When certain images are looked at more, the same can be used for print media marketing.

6. Is it ready for conversion? If the links which read ‘sign up here’ or ‘want to learn more’ are cold, you know that the page is lacking the allure required for conversion.



Should you use a heat map, yes! But, which and when

You should without a doubt, use heat maps. If you’re still unconvinced, here is what heat maps can do for you:

1. Direct measurement of the actions taken: Ever wondered what actually interests the users? You have a talented campaigning team but even the best idea which germinates from a meeting is truly assessed only thorough user reaction. If the webpage has a set of highlights but the same is not being identified by the user, then the behavior is not as expected. The situation is vexing when the site is not working when you do not know where the mistake lies. Heat maps make troubleshooting easier: if the selected region is cold, the lack of interest generated is self-explanatory.

2. Measure customer engagement: If you are a writer whose work is published online, how you ever wondered at what point the user loses interest? A heat map will answer the same. A heat map paints a picture of the user’s scroll information. Make appropriate changes when you see that only a small percentage of the users make it to the end.

3. Gauge customer attention: Want to know which headlines grabs the eye and which is skipped? Use a heat map. Identify the taglines which are concentrated with red and improve on the places which are blue. Other questions like the visibility of the form, distracting elements and attractive images are identified.

Once you’ve understood the importance of heat maps and what they mean for the website, the type to use is the next consideration. Heat maps can be click maps and scroll maps.


Click maps

As the name suggests, click maps record the regions which receive maximum clicks. These could be images, links, text or hypertext, among the other elements. You can assess whether the changes introduced on the website are positive or negative based on the number of clicks it receives. Additionally, the click percentage in comparison to the rest of the page is provided.


Scroll maps

These maps record the scrolling behavior of the user. The information provides the number of visitors who scrolled through the page and reached the end or quit mid-way. Highlights of the scroll map records active scroll section and the color coding identify the dull regions. Colors range from red, blue and yellow, with red being the most attractive and blue the least. Scroll maps help identify the most appropriate length of the web page. Ideally, the most important sections are the regions where the visitor spends maximum time.


Mouse movement heat maps

These heat maps are the closest relative to eye tracking test. Data gathered from the pattern of mouse movement is represented graphically to provide an overview of the web page interaction. Additional information provided is the number of visitors and page area commands.

A heat map is a tool with multifaceted benefits, but that doesn’t imply that it should be used all the time. There is a specific time when heat pay usage is the most beneficial and these are when:

1. Redesigning a website: When new features are added, the best assessment of the user behavior towards the change is offered by a heat map.

2. Content marketing: Is the site visitor taking time to read through the content or is it being skipped? The answer is given by heat maps.

3. A/B testing: A/B provides the conversion roadblocks which can either make or break a company. Through heat maps, instantaneous results on the differences in interactions between different versions of the same webpage are instantly understood.

In conclusion, heat maps are intelligent but simple means of understanding visitor behavior to provide invaluable real-time information on the site’s effectiveness.


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