Using heatmaps for website analytics

The key to good website performance is rooted in understanding your visitors’ behaviour: what are they looking for? Did they find it? What is attractive and what turns them off? What’s hot and what’s not, in a nutshell.

Here we take a look at how heatmaps can help further understanding to improve your site’s performance.

What is a heatmap?

It uses colour to show different values graphically. They can provide a very effective tool to show and analyse visitor behaviour on a website.

They visually track mouse movement, show where visitors click on a page, how far they scroll down the page and can even display eye-tracking tests.

Benefits of heatmaps

A heat map helps you to identify visitor reactions to your web pages by recording actual behaviour and showing it in a simple easy-to-read graphical format. By seeing the user’s clicks, taps and scrolls you can identify areas of a page that grab attention and see how users engage with the site.

The heat map can help you to drill deeper into your understanding of visitor behaviour and the parts of your site that do – and don’t – work well. You can track behaviour through the journey on your website including the sessions of those who stay, go on to purchase or visitors who drop out. So, they also show where attention drops off, where you lose visitors and thus identify areas of your site that aren’t working and where to make improvements, perhaps by re-ordering text, adding a call to action button or altering forms.

They can help you to A/B test and pilot different styles and versions of a page before settling on a final version and show how users interact with forms by measuring drop-off, blank submissions and errors. This helps you uncover issues, improve usability, and increase conversions among different segments of visitors.

You can use the mapping to create custom, interactive surveys to target a specific audience and obtain feedback if visitors are experiencing problems or in need of help.

A company who had invested heavily in marketing content once approached us after making no conversions all year. We showed the marketing team how to analyse their web pages to see where visitors were dropping off. Within an hour we were able to identify the problem. The order page was broken and could not be clicked.

What does a heatmap they look like?

Cold blue colours represent the least visited areas through to yellow, red and white as the most visited areas.

Their limitations

Remember that a heatmap can show you what has happened, but not why for example behaviours based on the usability of your website. The problem could be a poor colour scheme and not location.

You should also be wary of drawing conclusions based on a limited amount of data from just a few visitors – it might be worth analysing over an extended period of time.

How do I get started?

You can find good heatmapping tools online, such as CrazyEgg, Clicktale, Hotjar and Mouseflow.

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