What are Heat Maps?

Heat maps or click maps are graphical representations showing how visitors behave when using a website. Which links do they click on? How far do they scroll? And most importantly which links or areas of your website are they not using? Heat maps most commonly use colour to represent the data they are showing with red used for the most clicked areas, blue or green for the lesser clicked areas and an absence of colour for the links not clicked at all. This visual representation can make data easier to process and use in designing strategies for the improvement of your website.

Commonly used as part of conversion rate optimism (CRO) practices, click maps are invaluable in helping to optimise the usability of a website. One of the most common problems that digital marketers face is perfecting the navigation of a site, with bad navigation being a key factor of high bounce rates.  A click map will identify the most popular navigation links which should be grouped together for ease, improving user experience.

Once the most popular links have been discovered, website owners can then optimise the pages following on from them. These pages should be clear, well-designed and easy to use as visitors can quickly become frustrated if they are confusing and do not offer the information they were looking for. If the heat map is showing data from an ecommerce website, then marketers will often include more routes to purchase on the pages following on from the navigation links.   

Heat maps will also show any links or areas of the page that are less frequently clicked. These often appear in blue or green and can indicate any usability issues your website may be facing. This information can then be used to improve these areas of the site, encouraging more visitors to click on the links. In addition, click maps can also tell you if people are frequently clicking in places where there are no links. For example, are there images that appear to be links but are not? Do users click onto empty white space that could be used for advertising or other links to improve their overall experience?

There are a number of software packages and applications that can produce detailed heat maps from your website. Google Analytics offers a basic version which allows you to look at clicks and goals and add colours for a more visual representation of the data. Email marketing packages such as Mailchimp also include a basic click map showing the percentage of recipients that clicked on embedded links in an email campaign.

For those who need more detailed heat maps companies such as Crazy Egg offer complete packages. One of the most popular click map companies, Crazy Egg is there for “When Google Analytics isn’t enough” and allows its users to track visitor clicks, pinpoint hotspots, see where users stop scrolling on a page and connect clicks with different traffic types.

Heat maps are a cost effective way, data rich way of gaining user feedback from the visitors of your website. They are an ideal platform to begin forming a conversion rate optimism plan or a strategy to improve general usability of your website.

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