You may be most familiar with traditional heatmaps. They use color to represent specific data. One of the simplest examples of this can be seen during elections. You’ll notice when newscasters show red and blue districts (counties, states, etc.) to represent which areas are voting.
They highlight predominantly Republican areas. They use another color for those which are voting Democrat. Those that are undecided are displayed in a third color.
Heatmaps can also show actual heat. You see them every day on the news during the weather segment. The colors red, orange, and yellow zones on the map tend to represent warm temperatures.
Conversely, green or blue regions represent cooler weather. In essence, heatmaps are just another way to represent data. This is sometimes done in the framework of geographic location.
At this point, you may be confused about how heatmaps apply to your business. This is because we’re not talking about traditional heatmaps. Instead, we’re discussing virtual ones. They are used to provide you with information pertaining to your online operations.
Here’s what you need to know about heatmaps and how they can benefit your business.
What are Heatmaps?
In the online world, heatmaps is a tool that businesses can use to track what website visitors are doing. Sure, there are metrics that can report the funnels by which people reach your site. It also provides information about the amount of time spent on a page, where they navigate afterward, and so on.
A heatmap takes certain metrics and creates a visual representation of them. It’s overlaid on your page. It shows you exactly what visitors are looking at, clicking on, scrolling through, and so on. It also lets you know how long they linger.
In short, heatmaps measure viewer attention and engagement. Then, they deliver an accounting that allows you to see, at a glance, what visitors are interested in. There are several types of heatmaps the average business can use to gather consumer data.
They are mainly related to mouse movements. These include click maps, scroll maps, and hover maps (where and how the mouse moves around the screen). Heat maps display information in a way that looks a lot like infrared. You might relate the output to the heatmaps used on the weather segment.
The difference is that the heat blooms are on a web page rather than an actual geographic map. Additionally, the data they represent is how much activity, or heat, takes place in certain areas of the page.
A click map, for example, might show a lot of “heat” around buttons and links on the page. They are likely to receive more clicks than, say, a body of text. Generally speaking, you’ll need to collect data from several thousand visitors. It shows accurate and actionable patterns develop on the heatmap.
This could give you an idea of where people are clicking. Maybe it’s more on the “blog”, “about us”, or “products” buttons on your home page, for example. Perhaps, the links in blog posts are generating the most click-through.
Again, there are often other means of collecting and reviewing this data. Look at it on screen. There are bold colors as an overlay on your actual web page. This could make for a clear and immediate picture of how viewers see and interact with your content.
There may also be different ways to display data on heatmaps. A nimbus of shifting colors akin to infrared photography is the most common and recognizable format of the display.
You may also find programs or options that display data as pinpoints of color. These represent clicks. Still, others use gradients, to represent scrolling, just for example.
What are the Benefits of Heatmaps?
A picture is worth a thousand words. You can sift through mountains of metric data to understand what visitors to your site are doing. However, seeing a visual representation of how they click, scroll, and hover is bound to be faster.
For example, a scroll map provides immediate information about how much of a given web page viewers actually see. Do they scroll all the way to the bottom of the page? Maybe they simply view what’s above the fold without ever scrolling down further.
Do most visitors seem to stop scrolling down at a specific point on the page? What does this tell you? It could imply that the place where the majority of visitors stop scrolling. That’s because it contains the data that they’re most commonly seeking.
Anything after that point isn’t going to get their attention. It could help you to prioritize your content. It assists in determining the optimal placement of specific content. This could not only better serve the needs of visitors, but also for your business.
Do you want to know why people are navigating away from your page so quickly? A heat map could give you quick clues. What does mouse activity show you? Let’s say visitors scroll down and back up quickly before navigating away. That may indicate they aren’t finding the information they’re looking for.
Are they hovering over a button or link and clicking before navigating away, possibly cluing you into a broken link? Do they seem to be focusing on the upper corner of the page? They may be seeking a search bar or pull-down menu that doesn’t exist. This is something you might want to add.
Yes, it’s possible to get the same data set as a numerical report. However, see it represented in front of you on the page. You might put the pieces together more quickly. You’ll be able to make complex inferences that are harder to reach when you’re looking at a bunch of numbers.
Look through the viewer’s eyes (or the eyes of several thousand viewers). Thus, you’ll see exactly where they’re looking and what they’re looking at. That’s in addition to what catches and holds their attention.
You’ll learn what leads to positive or negative outcomes. Thusly, you’ll gain a much clearer understanding of how they’re behaving and why.
Ultimately, you’ll gain insight into what seems to be working, and why. You’ll also learn what’s turning viewers off. Then, you can make specific changes to improve the visitor experience. That, in turn, will better accomplish your goals.
Heatmaps transform complex data sets. They turn them into easy-to-read maps of the viewer experience. This can provide you with valuable clues about how to optimize your website.
If you have any comments about this topic or suggestions about future topics leave them in the comment box below.
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