What are the benefits of heatmaps?

Hot or Cold? Using Heatmaps as a UX Tool

Improving your UX sounds relatively straight forward on paper. You know what pages you want your customers to visit, the calls-to-action that you want seen and engaged with, your content types and their formats. So why aren’t people engaging the way you want them to? This tends to be where most marketing teams fall down. It’s all great to look at your expected customer journey and say it makes sense, but you won’t be factoring in genuine customer journeys into the conversation unless you dig a little deeper.

This is where some revolutionary UX tools have come into play, one of which is heatmaps. Heatmapping is a broad term for gathering qualitative data on the movement and actions taken on any given page, typically displayed as warmer colours (red/orange) for frequently clicked areas or colder (blue) for fewer interactions. This includes heatmaps for button clicks or even mouse pathways.

So, what are the benefits of heatmaps? The benefits of heatmaps include:

  1. Actual User Insights
  2. Combines With Quantitative Data
  3. Automated Data Collection
  4. Cost Effectiveness
  5. Identify Performance Issues
  6. Improve Conversion Rates

Sounds good? Read on to find out how heatmaps can help you unfreeze indecision on your conversion optimisation and general UX plan.


What’s Hot About Heatmapping?

1. Actual User Insights

“Most decisions are based on an underlying assumption. Positions articulated in a debate are based on an assumption. The problem is that, too often, in business the assumption is never made explicit, or if it is, its accuracy is never questioned.” Those are the words of author and Harvard professor, Robert Kaplan.

As mentioned in the intro, assumptions can be counter-intuitive to any product, design, marketing or conversion optimisation plan you might have. This is as it relies on an opinion which is not always backed by the customer themselves. And you know what they say about assuming right?

By employing heatmapping, organisations can view the most common buttons pressed, where user attention is drawn to on screen, and what areas are often not reached or have little user time viewing. This makes assuming a thing of the past as you can use these insights to direct resources and attention towards your customers authentic experience, rather than what you think their journey is.


2. Combines With Quantitative Data

Heatmapping is a highly qualitative measure of user experience, based less on numerical insights and more so on experience observation and subsequently interpreting their journeys. To really get the maximum benefit from your heatmaps however, we recommend pairing them with your quantitative insights to get the most accurate picture of user experiences.

Data that can be obtained from sources like Google Analytics, including most viewed pages and bounce rates, come in handy for organisations as they show products of interest (so you can target optimisation) and the pages where users land without taking further action respectively.

With heatmaps, you can review pages including those that appear most in the above examples and ask yourself a few simple UX questions that can inform your next steps:

  • Are users reaching specific content?
  • Are my call-to-action buttons in places visitors can see?
  • What content gets skipped over often?
  • What content attracts common cursor movement?


3. Automated Data Collection

Remember all that time you spent manually exporting data for everything from site analytics to new sign ups? Applying heatmapping doesn’t mean more admin to your workload. Software (like the ones we mentioned later) can automatically record heatmaps of where users are engaging with your content. This way your site can actively generate maps of user experiences while you do other tasks ahead of your team’s scheduled analysis time.

All that’s needed is scheduled time for reviewing heatmaps with your team in order to map out your future optimisation options.


4. Cost Effectiveness

Can you imagine how much it would cost to invite all of your website visitors to your offices in-person and watch them engage with your site? Even if you only have a handful of daily active users – their bus tickets alone would cost more than the price of the amazing heatmapping tools available on the market. These tools mean you can watch users interact with your website from the comfort of your screen and gain the same (if not, more ‘real’) insights than you would get in an expensive in-person user testing session. Furthermore, the majority of heatmapping companies offer free trials and if you don’t mind changing providers you could track thousands of websites for free.


5. Identify Performance Issues

As previously mentioned, sometimes you can simply be too close to your business and website to see the wood through the trees. It is amazing how viewing an anonymous stranger navigate through your site can help change the way you view your own site. 

Broken elements on Android phones? Poor formatting on the Ipad? Broken buttons? Critical performance issues can be quickly identified and fixed when you take the time to see how the website appears to the user, on their device, rather than how the website appears to you, on your device.


6. Improve Conversion Rates

All of the above benefits of using heatmaps to gain insight into your audience behaviour SHOULD help your team to make better decisions that help boost their conversion rate and ultimately boost your revenues and bottom line. It’s not all about revenue though, as by proxy improving your conversion rates will have meant that you have provided a better user experience for your visitors and helped them get through their journey without a hitch.

So, you agree that there are some benefits to using UX heatmaps – but what is the right tool given that there are so many on the market?


The Tools We Love For Heatmapping

There are some fantastic tools out there, usually packed with extra tools from screen recordings and reporting. Check out our shortlist below on sites you can use to implement heatmapping on your website, app, or experience.

  1. HotJar – Offers easy to use heatmapping for websites and web-based applications
  2. Content Square (ClickTale) – Apply zonal heatmapping and side-by-side comparison with other pages
  3. Crazy Egg – Apply additional analytics including search terms and referral source to your heatmaps
  4. Smartlook – Provides robust overviews for both web and mobile apps.


Are There Disadvantages to Using Heatmaps?

There are potential disadvantages to using heatmaps – from possible issues with site speed caused by installing heatmapping software and the time cost of manually analysing heatmaps to the ethical issues regarding users’ privacy. There is also the danger that you could misinterpret the data so it is important to absorb all of the support information that your heatmap provider has produced in their respective knowledge bases.


Ready to Unlock Your Site/App’s Potential?

To help global companies, SME’s and budding entrepreneurs get an insight of their existing website/mobile experience, we offer a FREE no obligation 1 hour UX audit, utilising tools like heatmaps to gather data which will drive your next move. Follow our link here to schedule in a call with our team of experts today.

For more comprehensive packages, check out our UX Audit page to get the low down on everything our we offer as part of our reports.