How do you keep your site optimized to encourage user experience? You need to continually make changes to your site design to improve it for your users. In order to do that, you need to know where they go when they visit, what they do and how they react. What parts of your site are the most clicked and which fall flat? What links to they rarely or never click? What do they last do before they leave your page? All of this can be found with a heat map.
A heatmap is, essentially, tracking the activity on your page. Web tracking heatmaps monitor your site for cursors, tracking them by individual user and by page. Some will offer a session playback so you can see what an individual user does. The primary point, however, is to see an overall picture of your site activity. Here’s how it works.
With a heatmap, you can see where your users click and what areas they avoid. You can see if your bottom-bar navigation is ever used, or if they scroll up to your top navigation. You can see which buttons they click most often and which links they use. You can also see what calls to action they react to, particularly when used in conjunction with A/B testing.
The number one benefit of using a heatmap is identifying parts of your site that are taking up space with links but are receiving no clicks. Set up a heatmap on your main page and see which of your navigation buttons are used. For those that aren’t, test! Change the wording and see if that was the problem. Change the position. Remove it entirely or replace it with a new, more useful link.
You can use heatmaps to identify the areas people click on most heavily. In general, Internet users read websites in an F-shaped pattern. They scan across the top of the page for titles and top bar navigation. On a page, the skim down the left side for subtitles, more navigation, bullet points and relevant content. When they see something that interests them, they scan across once more. Each leg of the F gets less interest, and there’s not much you can do about that. You can, however, put popular links from below the fold into a popular area above the fold. Move less interested links lower. Find the most high-traffic areas on your site and place your ads and monetized links nearby.
Heatmaps can be surprising. You might not realize how little interest certain links in your navigation are. You can also use heatmaps in conjunction with split testing to identify the benefits of alternate layouts.
To optimize your layout, make minor changes and continue testing. Even something as minor as bolding a link or changing the color of a call to action button can be highly effective.
All of this is highly dependent on your site layout, content distribution and format, of course. This is why heatmaps are so useful. They allow you to identify which of these issues you page has, and how you may be able to fix them. A heatmap alone won’t provide the answers, but it’s a powerful tool for gathering the information you need to adjust.
There are a number of different heatmap options available.
Of course, remember that you don’t have to be limited to one tool. You can use Google Analytics, Feng Gui and Crazy Egg simultaneously if you prefer, or any combination of other software you discover and prefer.