Heatmaps Guide: What Hot Spots Indicate About How Users Experience Your Site

No matter how tight your design is, users may interact with it in a different way than you intended. Heatmaps give you a visual picture of how users are experiencing your site which then gives you the information you need to optimize your site. This article will explain how to use heatmaps effectively. 

What is a heatmap?

A heatmap analyzes data on how site visitors browse a web page and then presents this data visually using color. Warmer colors indicate web page areas that get more attention (hot spots) while cooler colors indicate areas that get less attention. 

The results from a heatmap are easy to understand, which makes them a very useful decision-making tool. You can create a heatmap by using software tools such as CrazyEgg or Hotjar. The process is fairly simple: specify the page you want to track, set up the tracking parameters, and then check back for the heatmaps. 

Types of heatmaps 

There are several types of heatmaps that display information about different types of user behavior.

Hover (move) maps 

Hover maps show you where site visitors moved or hoovered their cursors on your web page. Areas with bright colors (hot spots) show that users were paying a lot of attention to the design elements there. 

Example of a hover map (Source)

Scroll maps

Scroll maps show you how far visitors scroll down a page and the percentage of visitors that scroll to the end. These maps are useful in sites that have a lot of content because they can help you optimize the length of your content. 

Example of a scroll map (Source)

Click maps 

These show you the exact elements that your visitors click on your site plus the number of clicks that each element gets. Elements that get more clicks have warmer colors than those that get few clicks. 

Example of a click map (Source)

What Hot Spots Indicate About How Users Experience Your Site

Hot spots on a heatmap tell a visual story of how visitors are experiencing your site. They can indicate distraction, confusion, or interest.  Here is how to interpret heat map data and use it to improve your site’s UX. 

Distracting elements 

Too many hot spots on elements around your main Call to Action (CTA) button indicates that your site users might be distracted from the main CTA by other UI elements. For instance, if your site has a cluttered sidebar next to the CTA button or a form, the sidebar might distract the users and prevent them from taking action.

If your heatmap indicates that your users are distracted, you can increase conversions by removing the distracting elements. Ensure that the attention ratio (ratio of actions that users can take to the actions that they should take) of your page is low. Additionally, you can make your CTA more prominent by using white space, increasing button size, and improving color contrast. 

Confusing elements 

Often, click maps show that users click on unclickable elements such as images a lot. If you see a lot of hotspots on unclickable elements, it means that your CTA buttons are not prominent enough and your users want to take action but they don’t know how to. This frustration might cause high bounce rates and poor conversion rates because users leave when they are frustrated. 

To fix this, ensure that your CTA buttons, forms, and other interactive UI elements look like the function that they are supposed to serve. As a designer, some design elements such as ghost buttons might look fairly straightforward and easy to understand but that may not be the case for your users. Alternatively, you can modify some of these confusing elements and make them clickable if you find that users click on them a lot. 

Scroll maps can also indicate confusion if a large number of users drop off your page at the same point. There might be a design element such a page break that confuses users and makes them think that that’s where the page ends. Look at the drop off point carefully and fix any confusing elements that you might find there. 

Poor page layout

A scroll map shows you how far down a user scrolls and you might find that your CTA button is placed too far down the page. If your visitors don’t see your CTA buttons then they can’t take action. You can fix this and improve conversions by moving your CTA buttons above the fold and into the hot spots where more users will see them. 

A flawed user journey

A click map can help you understand where users are getting stuck in their journey. You might find that many users in an e-commerce store are unable to check out their carts after shopping or that users get stuck on one particular step when signing up for software. This indicates that there is some friction in that step of the user journey and you should explore why this is happening.

If they are clicking on other non-CTA elements, it might indicate distraction and if they click on unclickable elements it might indicate confusion. Either way, a heat map will help you diagnose the problem and test possible solutions. 

UI elements that are working very well

Heatmap hot spots also indicate design elements that are usable and provide a good user experience. If users click on a CTA button often or scroll to the end of a page, it shows that these elements or copy are working well. 

Positive feedback is important because it helps you know what you are doing right and thus use that information to improve other pages on your site that might not be performing very well. 

Want To Improve How Users Experience Your Site?

Heatmaps are an excellent way of finding out how users experience your site. They let you know what’s working and what’s not working so that you can fix the problems and increase conversions while improving user experience. UXPin offers an all in one platform where you can design, prototype, and develop sites that convert users. 

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