Significance of Heatmaps in improving User experience Creation

A digital presence is inevitable in this era, but the success of a business also depends on the content effectiveness across different channels. And using heatmaps is one way you can judge the effectiveness of a piece of content.

Heatmapping is a type of user research that validates the performance of your content and architecture of your application.

Necessity for heatmaps

The extent of benefits with Google analytics or any web analytics are limited to quantitative stats: website visits, sources, bounces, average time and other trackable actions performed on a site. Heatmaps for that matter, go a step further by gauging the engagement of the user within the entire page. So the web analytics need to be coupled with heatmap visual analytics for a complete understanding.

Heatmaps provide opportunities to study user behavior and feelings toward a piece of content and have come to be widely applied in the field of user experience as a popular research methods to boost overall interaction.

Another important point to remember is that heatmaps may not be applicable for newly launched websites where there are no users. Because heatmaps track the user behavior, if there is no traffic, there is little applicability of heatmaps.

Let’s look at the importance, types and practical application of heatmapping.

What are Heatmaps?

Heatmaps are a form of graphical representation on a see-through layer that shows user activities on a specific web page or screen of a mobile app. These activities are differentiated by colors based on the intensity of activity on a specific area of a page.

It gives insights as to which part of the webpage gets more user attention in comparison to those areas that don’t. For example, call-to-actions that aren’t converting can be observed and analyzed with the help of heatmaps.

Types of heatmaps

There are 3 main types:

  1. Mouse and eye-tracking heatmaps
  2. Click heatmaps
  3. Scroll tracking maps

Mouse and eye-tracking heatmaps

This is a type of heatmap generated through a software that tracks the movement of a mouse on a webpage or finger touch on a mobile device. Research on human-computer interaction says that there is positive correlation between eyes and mouse movements during web browsing on a particular page. This is an easier research activity as it does not require any expensive hardware device for actual eye-tracking.

This category of heatmaps illustrates which part of the webpage or app screen is more engaging. Based on such analysis, businesses can draw insights and work out a strategic approach towards content redesign or architecture for a more targeted conversion.

Click heatmaps

clickstream heatmap analysis

Click heatmap for a webpage taken from 2014

Click heatmaps show exactly where users click on the page. Click activity shows which area of the page performs in attracting a users’ attention. Check the illustrative image for the click pattern on a webpage.

This is helpful to businesses for strategic placement of critical content such as placements of the main call-to-actions (CTAs) on a web page.

From the analysis, businesses can also implement A/B testing to improve the design of current CTAs using alternate images, colors, or shapes of the buttons.

Scroll tracking heatmaps

Scroll mapping heatmap

Scroll tracking heatmap for a webpage taken from 2014

This heatmap is in the form of higher to lower interactions (scrolling and staying on a particular part of the page) received from the top to bottom of a particular page. This gives insights into users scrolling behavior on a web page.

In the image above, the transition of colors is visible evidently from white to dark blue. The user interaction is showed by scroll tracking on parts of the page where the users scrolled to reach a point and how long they stayed in that section.

White color represents 100%, the longest stay of users in that part of a particular page to blue color, which shows the shortest period of users’ stay and attention (0-25%).

Similar to click heatmaps, this helps in placement of key information like ‘Contact us’ buttons, ‘Buy now’ CTAs or important promotions on the page. Businesses can take decisions on content rearrangement so as to provide the main information most users are often scrolling to find.  When you find that users are scrolling well below your current CTAs that means they are reading the page content and you should consider another call-to-action lower on the page.

How heatmaps can improve user experience

User behavior

As heatmaps gives us insights on how users interact with each web page, common patterns of the user behavior can be drawn. This way there is an opportunity to understand the type of content that users engage with and the reaction to the content released.

Reconsidering effectiveness of design elements

Heatmaps also reveal if particular design elements grab the attention of users instead of a critical content piece on the web page. Users have a tendency to first interact with elements of visual appeal.

If you have a specific user journey that you are tracking, this variety of heat map tracking can tell you if users are clicking ineffectively, reading further down on terms and conditions and may even help you understand cart abandonment.

Improve your conversions with heatmaps

Uses of Heatmaps The key to develop a great product is knowing and understanding your audience and users.

Heatmaps as a user research tool may not provide you a 360-degree insight on user behavior but when paired with quantitative metrics like Google Analytics, it can help bring more insight into the numbers because you can see more clearly what the users are doing on each page. By identifying the most and least appealing parts of your web pages, you can plan and redesign the website or mobile application’s content architecture.

This will have a considerable impact on user experience which in turn can improve your conversion rate. Remember, there is always room for improvement.

Great days ahead!


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