Whether your goal is reducing cart abandonment on an e-commerce website, getting users to respond to a CTA, or simply seeing if site visitors like your website content, including heatmapping as part of your website optimization strategy is a simple yet powerful way to analyze user behavior and make data-driven decisions with your web design. Here’s what you need to know about using a heat map on your website.
- What Is a Heat Map?
- What Are the Different Types of Heat Maps?
- Why Should You Use a Website Heat Map?
- What Are the Best Heat Map Tools?
What Is a Heat Map?
A website heat map is a data visualization tool that translates user behavior into a graphical representation similar to thermal imaging—the “hottest” areas of your website being those receiving the highest engagement and the “coolest” receiving the lowest. Put another way, heat maps can show you which buttons on your website users are clicking, which webpages they’re visiting most often, and what parts of those pages they spend the most time looking at, among other things.
What Are the Different Types of Heat Maps?
There are several kinds of website heat maps, but the most widely used are click maps, scroll maps, and mouse-tracking heat maps. Each shares the common function of measuring user behavior on a website, but they have a few crucial differences.
A click map is exactly what it sounds like—it’s a heat map that shows where users click most frequently on a website and its various webpages. This can give you a clear picture of how users engage with your website, as well as what prompts and CTAs they find most compelling.
Click maps can also help you identify problem areas with your website. If very few users are interacting with a certain CTA, for example, or if their clicks indicate the presence of a bug, broken link, or other site malfunction, these trends will be recorded on a website’s click map.
Scroll maps serve to record user behaviors that would indicate problems with the length and format of a webpage. If a user stops scrolling halfway down the page, for example, you can safely assume that this is the point at which they lost interest or had trouble within something on the page. This could be because the page itself is too long or because it’s too difficult to navigate.
Mouse-Tracking Heat Maps
A mouse-tracking heat map, otherwise known as a hover map, is a combination of a click map and scroll map. While the previous two kinds of heat maps hone in on a particular facet of user activity on a website, mouse-tracking heat maps measure the bigger picture of how people behave on a website.
Mouse heat maps track scrolling, clicking, and even the movement of the mouse itself. This can be valuable in showing web designers and business owners which aspects of a webpage users find most interesting outside of buttons and links alone. Users drawn to a particular image or graphic, for example, might tend to leave their mouse lingering over it.
Why Should You Use a Website Heat Map?
Not only does heatmapping provide your business with great customer insights, but it can also help you address serious issues with your web design that may be hindering your business’ performance online.
Collect Customer Data
If your business website has an e-commerce component, having customer data that shows you which of your products are clicked on or looked at most can help you make important decisions regarding inventory, sales pushes, and even overall marketing. For example, if you know that certain products tend to drive more sales during certain seasons, you might use that information to create a timely email marketing or paid search campaign.
Improve User Experience
Website analytics like Time on Page, Bounce Rate, and Session Duration may be useful in telling you how long someone was on your website, but heat maps can better explain why they stayed or why they left. If your heat maps show a quick decrease in activity from the information at the top of the page to the bottom, you might have a user experience issue. Maybe the information you’ve shared isn’t what the user was looking for, or you didn’t give them enough direction to keep them moving down the page. You can use heat map data to then make adjustments to your webpages and watch for improved movement on the page afterward.
Help Identify Navigation Issues
Navigation can make or break your website. With good navigation, a heat map should show that users are clicking the right menu items that begin their journey into the sales funnel. You can see that they’re moving from top-level information pages to areas where they can request more information or make a purchase. But with bad navigation, there may be a significant drop-off from the homepage and other top-level pages. This could be an indication that you need to change your navigation to provide better guidance for site visitors so that they know where they can go to take further action on your website.
What Are the Best Heat Map Tools?
Heat maps are an inexpensive tool, with many of them being free or having low-cost monthly subscriptions. There are a variety of heat mapping tools available online, but some of the best options are…
Crazy Egg is possibly the most popular tool for heat map generation. The various heat map options available are all divided by traffic sources, so you can see how visitors coming from platforms across the web interact differently with your site. Crazy Egg offers simple plans that don’t limit you to usage on a single website, so you can use a single Crazy Egg account for any and all of the websites you run.
By packaging multiple website analytics and conversion tools into one service, HotJar stands out as one of the most effective heatmapping tools available. On top of offering session recordings, funnels, and polls, HotJar also has an easy-to-use dashboard, making it perfect for anyone new to heatmapping.
Optimized for WordPress users, Mouseflow‘s click mapping, scroll mapping, and mouse mapping services make it simple to see how visitors are interacting with your site. The service includes form analytics, so you can see when and why visitors close out of forms while browsing your website. Mouseflow has a free version limited to one website with up to 100 recorded sessions, or a paid version that lets you have up to 1,000 recorded sessions on a single site.
A self-proclaimed “all-in-one optimization site,” Lucky Orange offers click mapping, scroll mapping, and mouse mapping for a low monthly price. In addition to these services, Lucky Orange also gives users access to features like session recording and traffic segmentation. The service also makes it possible to add polls and chat widgets to your site to promote further customer engagement.
Purportedly one of the simplest heatmapping tools, Heatmap.Me has an intuitive user interface and uses a small string of Java code to record your site visitors’ behavior without slowing the site down. Users can install this code on up to five pages for free or a higher monthly rate for use on unlimited webpages. This higher price is partially due to the fact that, unlike other heatmapping tools, Heatmap.Me offers real-time web analytics. In other words, you can see customers interacting with your website live.