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What is a HeatMap?

Online Marketing

What is a HeatMap? image would you click hereIs Your Website Hot Or Not?
Use A Heatmap To Find Out!

Once your visitors have arrived on your site – what do they DO? First, second, third…

What do they click?

Without actually stalking your visitors and looking over their shoulder it can be hard to know whether your site structure is leading people to “naturally” arrive at a point of conversion…

Fortunately, that’s what heatmaps are for!

What Is A Heatmap?

A heatmap is a visual depiction, using color, to indicate which items were hotter, and got more clicks than items that were cooler and got minimal clicks. 

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A heatmap is a very powerful yet super-easy-to-understand tool to decide if your design, layout, and navigation is doing what it should be doing!

In a heatmap, you will see a slightly darkened copy of your website, behind colored blobs that indicate clicks…

The brighter colored spots indicate an item or location that was clicked repeatedly.

More color (lighter/brighter/redder) indicates more clicks.

The key to a heatmap is to pay attention to what did not get clicked if you wanted it clicked compared to things that got clicks that probably didn’t NEED clicked.

By first understanding your visitors experience with your site, you can then subtly control their journey through your site… and into your conversion funnel! 

Want to Create Heatmaps?

There are multiple ways to create a heatmap for your blog including services that rely on a little code snippet being added to your blog and WordPress plugins.

Heat Map software and services include are readily available for nearly any type of website.

An example of such services are Experiment.ly, CrazyEgg, Lucky Orange, and Clicky Analytics.

An example of a heatmap plugin is Click Heat Dynamo. Several of the above services also have a plugin available to make installation easy.

What Does A Heat Map Look Like?

This is an example of a recent (at time of writing) heatmap from my home page before I do some upcoming modifications.

What is a HeatMap? image heatmap home small 1

You see those blue dots on the image above? Those are places that people clicked!

So in that image…. blog, home, search box, the optin form fields, and the corner of the header graphic were all high-click items.

The lack of dots on the video should tell you a lot about what I’m seeing in terms of performance for video in web design elements at this time.

What Is Measured On A Heatmap?

Generally speaking, heat maps measure clicks. This tells you about which screen elements got clicked on by the visitor.  These may be called Click Heat Maps.

Another version would be a Scroll Heat Map which uses a similar color scheme but a gradient of color to tell you about the percentage of visitors that scrolled down your web page.  This lets you evaluate at what point 80 or 50% of the visitors stopped scrolling and thus did not see off screen elements.

A third type, is actually a cousin of heat maps, provides for Mouse Tracking. This shows you what elements the visitor moved his/her mouse too (perhaps to check hover text) even if they did not click. This is newer and not provided by most services.

What Don’t Heatmaps Do?

Heatmaps do not actually tell us about conversion. They may tell us that a button got clicks but they can not tell us the percentage of visitors that clicked it. Choosing a heatmap from a company that does Analytics can help ensure you get that data too.

They also can not give instant results!  Building a heatmap is an “experiment” and you have to set up the experiment and allow enough time to lapse for enough visitors to visit the page to generate the pretty picture you see.

For smaller sites, it may take a long while to build a heat map (yet I still recommend it because of what you learn from the data). On a busy site, a heatmap generally takes 30 days to collect enough data to be useful.

Heatmaps

As you can see, Heatmaps are a powerful but very easy to use tool for your website or WordPress blog.

Getting started can be as easy as signing up for a service and installing a code snippet or plugin to start collecting data.

Have you used a heatmap to check the performance of your visitor’s experience? 

~ Kim ~
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PS: The heatmap above was created with Experiment.ly which I’ll talk about in an upcoming post, so stay tuned!

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