How to Use Heat Maps to Improve Website Design
Everyone who uses the web knows the difference between a poorly and well-designed site. Great websites seem to flow naturally from one page or another. You get a smooth experience from the second your browser lands on the web page until you leave.
Only UX developers know that none of this is actually natural. It’s the result of careful data analysis, planning, and fine-tuning that makes all this possible. And, few tools provide better insight into users than heat maps.
Here are four different ways you can use heat maps to improve website design and drive the metrics that matter most to your business.
What is a Heat Map?
First, here’s a little refresher about heat maps. Heat maps are data visualizations that depict how users click, scroll, and move on a web page.
Heat is determined by popular and less popular parts of a page. The more popular an area is, the redder it will be. Likewise, the less popular it is, the bluer it will be.
Heat map data is available both on desktop and mobile, and you can check it in three main ways:
- Click maps illustrate where users click/tap on a page
- Move maps illustrate where the mouse moves (no clicking)
- Scroll map: illustrate where users scroll on the page
You can then take this data to refine and optimize pages to suit whatever your needs are. Here are some main uses of heat maps.
1. Find the CTAs That Work
Calls-to-action (CTAs) are arguably the most crucial part of the site. It’s where users either convert and purchase a good/service or not.
So much goes into designing CTAs — from the right wording to layout and more. You can use heat maps to see how popular your CTA buttons are.
You can then narrow down on elements that users ignore or find an area to test a new CTA. It helps you make the most of your CTAs and maximize potential opportunities.
2. Measure Scroll Distance
The average web user doesn’t scroll to the bottom of every page. That’s why what’s written above the fold is so vital. If they’re interested, they’ll read more. If not, they move somewhere else.
People visit your site from many different devices, browsers, and screen sizes. Not everybody gets the same information above the fold.
With a scroll map, you can see where the average fold is. With this information, you can rearrange where you place essential information, including CTAs. It ensures that most people see them.
3. Spot Problem Clicks
Every website has different design elements. On some sites, you click an image, and it leads you to another page or website. On others, it expands the picture to full screen. And on some, a click does absolutely nothing. Mis-clicks like these can cause UX issues.
With a heat map, you can spot incorrect clicks and fix issues. You can add relevant links or remove features to make users less likely to click them. It’s also a helpful tool for sifting out website bugs and other design errors that may harm the user experience.
4. Optimize Across All Devices
Response design is essential for SEO. Responsive web design boils down to pages that adapt to all screen sizes. It’s tricky because what may appear like a few lines on a large screen may need a lot of scrolling on a smartphone.
Heat maps can show you where mobile users have to scroll and if they miss CTAs in the process. Your goal should be a design that looks good on all screens.
Here are some final tips to take into account. They will not help you improve your websites per se, but they can help make the most of using heat maps:
- Choosing the heat map provider. There are many heat map platforms you can use, but they are not free. Use the free trial periods before choosing and sticking to one.
- Protecting data privacy when using heat maps. Use a virtual private network (VPN) when accessing the heat maps and other essential online platforms. A VPN protects your internet connections, ensuring no third-parties can see or track what you do online. As an added perk, you can use a VPN for several other SEO tweaks, including doing competitor research and a whole lot more.
- Showing heat maps to clients. Your web pages may look fantastic, but sometimes it’s challenging for clients to see how effective they are. So besides your portfolio, why not show your clients their heat maps too? Heat maps are easy for anybody to understand, and at a glance, your clients can see the improvements you’ve made to their site and why.
In the end, heat maps are incredible tools. Whether you’re in the design, editing, or launch phase, start using them to improve UX and achieve your site’s goals.