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Heat map – What is it?

Website creators and administrators have got used to looking at its content and structure primarily in the context of SEO and SEM. Meanwhile, it is sometimes forgotten that they are primarily intended to serve users and respond to their needs. It turns out that sometimes small changes – e.g. in the layout of the website – can translate into a much higher conversion. In recognizing the expectations of website visitors, the so-called heat maps. Find out how it works!

What is a site heatmap?

The heat map of the website is a visual representation of user behavior. It is a tool that shows which areas of the website are “hot”, and therefore more eye-catching, and which are “cold” – much less interesting from the visitor’s point of view.

The heat map can be produced in various ways and based on several types of data (more on that later). Prepared for a given website, it is in the form of a screenshot with marked spots in different colors. Deep red signifies the greatest interest, orange, yellow and green are intermediate colors, while blues and purples denote the “coldest” places that are the least popular among Internet users.

Heat maps tell you if users:
– reach the most important information,
– they can easily find links, buttons and other links on the website,
– focus their attention on unimportant elements,
– face obstacles to the free and comfortable use of the website.

The analysis of the data collected in the form of a heat map allows for a much better adaptation of the website to the expectations of users and increasing its functionality. The knowledge gained in this way can also significantly help in increasing conversions, i.e. the number of orders, inquiries or other forms of contact with the company.

How are heat maps made?

Typically, a heat map is cumulative data collected through several studies. Sometimes it is identified with the so-called eye tracking, i.e. tracking the movements of the eyeball, another time with the map of clicks. In fact, it is a combination of several types of information collected in different ways. Most often, when creating heat maps, the following are used:
– click analysis – clicktracking,
– page scrolling – scrolltracking,
– examination of elements that attract attention – attentiontracking,
– tracking cursor movements on the screen – movetracking.

They can be presented in the form of a combined report or separate analyzes. This is data that allows you to accurately understand the behavior of Internet users, and thus adapt the website to them. This affects not only the already mentioned increase in conversion, but also the friendliness of the website itself, and therefore the satisfaction of its users.

It is worth preparing separate heat maps for the desktop and mobile websites. This allows you to compare how users of different devices behave and see if your website offers a similar level of conversion in different variants.

Heat maps and eye tracking

Eye tracking is also a popular method of measuring the engagement of website visitors and testing its usability. Its results are often presented in the form of a heat map, but it is a separate analytical tool. Eye tracking allows you to track the movement of the eyeballs. The research is used in many areas, it works well, among others in the case of website usability analysis.

During the procedure, a device that analyzes the eye movement is connected to the computer. Then a focus study is performed. Its participants are asked to perform specific tasks within a given page. Thanks to this, you can check, for example, how easy it is to find the necessary information or carry out activities such as making a purchase or registering on the website. While the data provided by eye tracking can be very valuable, heatmaps should not be equated solely with this study. It may be part of the website analysis, but more often a variety of tools are used to study the previously mentioned parameters.

It should also be remembered that the eye tracking research is carried out in created conditions, on a selected group of participants. So it does not necessarily have to be representative. Meanwhile, heat maps are usually created on the basis of data obtained from real site users in natural conditions.

Heat map – who needs it?

Are you wondering if creating a heat map will pay off? Do you need this type of solution at all? This is a very useful option – provided, however, that the results obtained in this way are properly analyzed, and the conclusions drawn will translate into activities aimed at adapting the website to the expectations and needs of users. The benefits of preparing a heat map will primarily affect people who:
– despite the SEO activities carried out, they do not enjoy a satisfactory conversion;
– are worried about the high bounce rate of the page;
– they achieve good results in terms of organic inputs, but significantly worse among mobile users;
– want to adjust the website template to the user’s needs;
– they have no idea for functional changes within the site;
– want to find out if the mechanisms used are working as intended.

In short, heatmaps are for anyone who wants to improve their website and make it more effective. A user-friendly, functional website more and more often translates into real benefits. However, keep in mind that analyzing the heatmaps is only one step in improving your website. SEO, competition monitoring and other activities cannot be forgotten. Only a holistic approach to creating a website can bring clear results.

Heatmap of the site – how to use it?

A reliably prepared heat map is a great source of information for website administrators. The only question is: how to use them? There are many possibilities. Let’s check what the heat map data says and how it can be transferred to a more functional and, more importantly, more effective website design.

Content analysis
It has been known for a long time that texts on websites are scanned rather cursily, not read by visitors. The heatmap can tell you which elements grab your visitors’ attention and therefore where to put the most important information. Thanks to scrolltracking, you will also find out where on the website its users usually reach. This may suggest that you need to shorten the content or divide it. It is also worth taking care of the form of their presentation – short paragraphs and bullets containing concise information will bring a much better effect. Also, don’t forget about your headlines – they should be attractive and enticing, while still containing your most important keywords. At the very bottom of the page, you can include texts that are less important from the user’s point of view, but they will help in positioning the page.

Improving site navigation
The heat map analysis will tell you a lot about the effectiveness of the links on the page. Are buttons and links receiving sufficient attention? Do users have no problem finding the tab with the offer or the icon transferring the product to the basket? The click-through study will also help you check that the links in the text are in the right places. If their effectiveness is unsatisfactory, try to move them to places that attract more interest from website users. It’s also worth checking if those links that actually “click” lead to the most important tabs and increase your conversion rate. If the buttons aren’t performing well enough, it might be worth making them bigger, highlighted, or repositioned. Also, make sure they contain a call to action (CTA) – a slogan encouraging action (eg “Check”, “Order”, “Learn more”).

Thanks to the heat map analysis, it may also turn out that some of the navigation elements are unnecessary. If a side menu, banner, or button isn’t interesting, they may just be taking up valuable space where something else would be worthwhile.

Detection of problem spots
Broken or invalid links, especially in the “clicked” area, is a huge wasted opportunity. A user who is “framed” in this way can often get irritated and not return to the site anymore! That is why it is worth checking all links for operation and fixing them as soon as possible – especially if they are very popular among Internet users.

More effective suggestions
Many online stores have sections with other recommended or similar offers on their product pages. It is worth checking with the heatmap that this suggestion actually works. If not, it may be worth changing the form or position of the section. Seemingly it is a small thing, but it can significantly affect the time spent by the user on the website and, more importantly, the conversion.

Improving responsiveness
Responsive design is basically a “must have” of any website. It should be properly displayed on various devices and should be functional and easy to use, regardless of the size of the user’s screen. However, a website that is responsive in theory does not always offer the desired functionality in practice to mobile users. Making a heat map can be very helpful in evaluating the template and adapting it to the user’s needs. If it takes endless scrolling to get to the most important functions and information, some elements hide others, and buttons are not where they should be, the visitor will quickly lose patience and leave the page. These are unacceptable errors that can significantly affect the number of users on the website, as well as the conversion.

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