How to Use Heatmaps to Improve Website UX

Heatmapping is a great way to get that information, especially if your budget isn’t large enough to enable you to conduct focus groups.
February 4, 2021
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Though you may have heard the term “user experience” (UX) a lot lately, it’s more than just a buzzword. UX is a concept that can make or break a company in the modern business environment. Why? Because the experience customers have when doing business with you — that is, the way they feel before, during, and after interactions with your brand — is more important than just about any other factor. 

Yes, that includes cost and convenience. People are willing to go out of their way or pay more for better UX. So, you need to do everything possible to enhance it. For many customers, your website is one of the first places they’ll interact with you, so it needs to enable seamless, easy, comfortable use. Discovering just how visitors are using your website can help you figure out how to improve it. 

A heatmap is a tool that reveals in visual format how visitors are clicking, moving, tapping, and scrolling on your site, all of which can tell you where their attention is going. If it’s not going to the right places, you can change your site accordingly. In this post, BairesDev reviews the different types of heatmap tools (described in the video below) and how they can help you adjust your website for the best possible UX. 


Common Heatmap Tools

Heatmap results display as an image of a web page with colors on it to represent more or less use. For example, on an eCommerce product page, the “Add to Cart” button may display with a red area because it gets used more often, while other areas of the page might show up as blue or green, to indicate less use.

To get heatmap data, you must install a code snippet on your website. Heatmap software typically includes the following types of heatmaps:

  • Click maps display the areas on each web page where visitors click the most often. 
  • Tap maps are similar to click maps but are used on mobile devices that require tapping rather than mouse clicks. 
  • Movement maps track mouse movement across a page, including which elements are hovered over the most. 
  • Scroll maps show at what point on the page users most commonly stop scrolling.  


Using Heatmap Data to Improve Website UX

When you can see how visitors are using your site, you get insights about their experience. For example, if visitors frequently click a non-clickable image, you can infer that they expect “something more” there to explore. This information can help you adjust your design to better meet their need for seamless browsing and your need for them to complete certain actions based on your business goals. 


Determine Which Designs Users Prefer

Some designs might be more pleasing to visitors and, therefore, work better to get users to perform actions you want them to take. If you have two designs or images you want to compare, you can do so using A/B testing, which involves publishing both designs and seeing which one performs better. You can then deploy the one that visitors prefer or create a third version with the aspects that performed better in the A and B versions. 


Find Out Which CTAs Work Best

Website design isn’t just about placing text and a few images on a page. It’s about adopting a strategic approach to guide visitors through your site to get to an end goal. Doing so not only helps them have a smoother experience, but it also helps you meet your business goals.

For example, an eCommerce site should be designed to help visitors place items in their cart, review them, and complete the purchase. You can assist this process with things like large “Place in Cart” and “Checkout” buttons, detailed cart lists, and coherent checkout processes. 

Heatmaps can tell you whether calls to action (CTAs) are effective. For example, you might also have a “Contact Us” button that visitors are consistently clicking more than the “Place in Cart” button. If you find that out through heatmap analysis, you can move that button, or make it less prominent, making it less of a distraction for visitors. Of course, you should also investigate why they click more on the contact button than on the “Place in Cart” one. 


See How Much of Your Content Is Being Read

By discovering how far down your pages visitors are scrolling, you can be more purposive about your text and design. If you find out through heatmap analysis that most of them only scroll a third of the way down, you can study the page to find out why. It may be that you’re not giving them a good enough reason to keep going. If that’s the case, you can improve your text to make it more compelling or consider consolidating all your information in a shorter form.

Conversely, if you find out readers typically scroll all the way to the end of one of your pages, that could be a sign that they want more information about the topic on that page. Making these slight adjustments can give your website more of what they want. 


Improve Adaptive Design

When you use adaptive web design (which adjusts to the screen it’s being viewed on), certain website elements can move or change when being viewed from a mobile device. So, it’s important to get data that shows how all device users are navigating your site. Look at desktop, tablet, and smartphone data separately to learn how you can improve your design for each one.


Streamline Navigation

One of the most important elements of a user-friendly website is clear navigation. Using heatmap data, you can find out if visitors are clicking non-clickable elements, hoping to jump to another page. If that’s the case, you can make those elements less visible or place them in a different location on the page. You can also make your actual navigation elements more prominent and easily accessible. 

Making navigation more user-friendly is one way to improve your website’s overall UX. 


The Value of User Data

Improving the usability of your website isn’t a once-and-done process. You need to continuously monitor how visitors are using your site to learn about their preferences and frustration points. Heatmapping is a great way to get that information, especially if your budget isn’t large enough to enable you to conduct focus groups. 

Excellent UX leads to visitors staying on your site longer and completing more transactions, so the better you can make it, the more successful your website will be. 


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