Website heatmaps are an incredibly useful and often under-utilized tool when it comes to understanding your website and its traffic. While heatmapping is not a panacea for all the issues you might be having, it will improve your perception of how individuals are interacting with your content and links.
What is a Heatmap used for?
Having analytics tools hooked up to your website gives you information such as unique visits to a page, percent of visitors who exit from a certain page, whether a conversion was triggered, and so on. Heatmapping software allows you to visualize these interactions and display information in an easily digestible manner.
There is a disconnect between how a business owner and the general public view and use a website. It’s possible to take things for granted or make assumptions because of our understandings and perceptions, only to find out that visitors to your site are not interacting in the ways that were envisioned. Using the information from a heatmapping tool can give you insights into improving conversion points on a page, improve the user experience, and find new opportunities for interlinking, funnel improvements, CTAs, and more.
One of the more common things that heatmaps can show is where you are missing out on funneling a visitor to more refined information, buttons or a contact form. Using website heatmaps, we can more easily visualize points on a page where users are misinterpreting content and assuming they should be able to view, zoom, or follow a link. We can then use that information to improve the user experience through actionable options that can improve metrics like time on page, customer retention, or move traffic along towards a conversion.
Can Heatmaps help with a redesign?
Yes, absolutely. Installing and using heatmapping software is a great way to know what worked and what didn’t work as planned on your previous design. When redesigning a website and making far reaching changes to the layout, image placement, color scheme, and more; its important to understand what did and did not work previously.
While it’s easy to make assumptions or personal decisions that an icon looks better on the other side or a menu should be moved or a contact form pinned somewhere on the page, having aggregated information from heatmaps can show you how real people used and interacted. You might even find things you thought were perfect are overlooked or misunderstood by your visitors and could be improved or removed to enhance their experience.
How do I install a Heatmap?
Installing a heatmap on your website is easier than it seems. To start off with, if you have Google Analytics on your website – and you should – then you already have access to a rudimentary Click Map. Previously this was built into analytics directly and then changed into a downloadable Chrome Extension. This has since been depreciated but is still available and working. The Google Analytics In-page feature shows you an overlay with percentages on where people clicked so you get a better idea of what existing portions of your pages are driving your traffic to deeper pages.
While the Google Click Map is useful, other software can provide better visualization. If your website is built using WordPress, various plugins are available from a wide array of companies which all offer similar experiences (though they each have their strengths and weaknesses). Adding a proper heatmap to your website can be as easy as installing one of these plugins or they can be manually installed by a web developer adding code and scripts to the site.
Are there different types of Heatmaps?
Not all website heatmaps are created equal and some provide very different information than others. We mentioned the Google Click Map already but we want to highlight three commonly used types of heatmaps:
Hover Maps are probably what you think of when you hear the term “Heat Map”. These visualizations tools show where users positioned their mouse cursor during their time on the page. This can give you a general idea of how a user read and interacted that can simulate eye-tracking. Of course, the issue is that not everyone uses their cursor to follow along with text, hover over an image they are viewing, or leave it on top of the video they are watching. Hover map information can be skewed by visitors simply moving their mouse to the side and leaving it in one spot while they view or read.
Click Maps show you brighter spots where users clicked on a page. This can help communicate instances where users misunderstand content and links on a page. For instance, if a click map shows certain text on the page is being clicked but isn’t a link then improvements can be made to the user experience to either add improved interlinking to that spot or changes to text and design to make intent obvious.
Scroll Maps help you understand where and how far a visitor scrolled on your page. Did your paid traffic go all the way to the bottom of the page? Do organic visitors stop a third of the way down and miss your important Call to Action? Scroll Mapping can help you determine if your pages are too long, where to place contact forms for better conversions, or even where most of your visitors are losing interest before they exit the page.
Efferent Media Can Get You Started
If all of this sounds a bit overwhelming, we can help. At Efferent Media, we have experience working with heatmapping software and offering up informed suggestions for website redesigns. If you’d like to learn more or think your business can benefit from some website improvements, contact the experts at Efferent Media today by calling (631) 867-0900.