What heat maps can tell us about our web design

Design / 26 Jan 2017

Heat maps are a conversion optimisation tool that allows marketers and designers to track how people are using a website. A heat map will show how users are navigating on a website and which sections of each page are getting the most action. There are many other tools that allow us to understand the conversion optimisation of a website; so why do we need to use heat maps and what can they tell us that other tools won’t? 

Let’s say you have recently updated your website. Enquiries and conversions had been tracking at a steady rate prior to the update but recently, you have noticed a bit of a decline. You may decide that this is just a bad month and fluctuation in enquiries are a normal part of business. However, this continues for the next month and you begin to worry. After checking analytics you can see that the bounce rate has increased dramatically since the website had been updated. Why could this be, you wonder? The website looks great as far as you’re concerned.

Now, with tools like Crazy Egg or SumoMe, most of the guesswork is taken out of these situations.

What you think is great about your website could potentially be it's downfall and without being able to see where customers are navigating on your website, this will be difficult to discover. 

When you look at the heatmap, you may find that the main page people are clicking on doesn’t actually have a call to action link. Or you may find that people are spending more time reading or watching something on one section of the screen which distracts them from what they have come to the page for. There are many situations where heat maps can give insight into solutions that you may not have considered. 

Ok, so in that situation it could be really helpful. But when else would I really need to use a heatmap?

  • People clicking on a word or image that isn’t actually a link
  • Understanding what links are more obvious to users
  • Gaining insight into whether the navigation is easy to use
  • Users not viewing the content you’re most proud of
  • People clicking on a word or image that isn't actually a link

Having content that distracts users from what you actually want them to view can be a problem that may have been otherwise unidentified. Likewise with people clicking on a word or image and expecting it to be a link to a page. In this situation, the evidence you found would encourage you to create a link from the word or image which people were clicking on. This in itself could see an improvement in conversions. 

  • To gain insight into whether the navigation is easy to use

People tend to have very little tolerance with websites and if links or pages are not responding as they expect, often they will just leave the page entirely. Heatmap tools can be extremely helpful in determining these issues. The way you view your own website, after looking at it hundreds of times and knowing exactly how it works, can be an entirely different view to how users see it. This is why insightful tracking tools can be of such assistance.  

  • Users not viewing the content you’re most proud of

You might have customer testimonials or important details that you think are a great advantage to your website sitting on a section of a page that users are not even looking at. By seeing that users are not making it to that section of the page might encourage you to rearrange these details to a more heavily trafficked location on the website.

So ultimately, the answer is yes. You do need to be using heat maps (if you want better conversion optimisation) and they definitely can offer more insights than some other tools. You could be gaining information about your user navigation that you would have never otherwise known. 

If this is all too much, just contact us. We can take care of it all for you.

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