UX Research

Everything you need to know about heat maps and what they mean for you:

Heat maps are all in rage today. From weather forecasters using them to every user-centric company on the planet, everyone loves to use it. Why wouldn’t they? Heat maps are a tool of choice for many when you need to make sense of heaps of data. Instead of wading through pies, graphs, tables, and charts, you can instead use heat maps to see the trends. No interpreting charts or understanding different graphs. Yes, it is that easy.

Heat maps are one of the most widely used tools to showcase statistical data. Not just engineers and companies, researchers, marketers, sociologists, and even doctors use it. What makes it so popular is that while not everyone understands the traditional analytics but almost everyone can interpret heat maps.

What is a Heat Map?

Heat map is a visual analytics tool that relies on colors to interpret the data for you. Use it when you need to know how a web page is performing and what’s catching the attention of your users.  The heat map shows you in a simple and comprehensible way the information that’s most important for you – your user’s attention.

Bring on the color!

Heat maps use warm and cool colors to show you which part of the website attracts most of the user’s attention. Curious to know how a heat map of a webpage looks like. Here is a reference.

Everything you need to know about a page is on your screen. Right from the CTA that grabs most of the gazes of your users and the F-shaped pattern that their gaze makes. Heat maps isn’t prying on your users but instead it is a form of visual storytelling. When you have a heat map available to you, you can easily answer the most important question that is if your users are seeing the most important part of your page.


Learn how heat map works :

As shown in the above pic, heat map uses the data collected from a web page and then lays it out over the page for you to see. So, how do we collect the data? We start by taking a snapshot of the page. We add a small JavaScript to your website’s code so that a copy of the current live page loads in our servers. We then map all the elements on that page including the copy, interactive elements and visuals. We then attribute every task that a user takes on that web page.

Of course, we limit this interaction to just unique users. You wouldn’t want biased information. When  we have mapped enough user interactions, we have the analysis ready to show to you.

We record every tap on any link on the page. But this will only give you an idea of the most popular part of your website. But, what if you need more information? We can help you record the slightest thing that the users do, including if people are reading your copy. Read on to know about how we do that.

Capture the clicks:

Our heat maps can capture the effectiveness of your CTAs and see if the users are paying heed to the CTA. This translates to gaining useful insight that will bring you a valuable tool to improve the conversion of your funnel. The more clicks a CTA generates, the brighter it glows in the heat map. With just one glance of the hot spots on the heat map, you can identify the most important buttons on your website.


Are users even reading your copy?

What if you need to monitor more than just clicks? How about the description copy that you spent so much time and resource in shaping? We can help you check if the information displayed on the website is being read by your users. We do by following the flows of the cursor and creating a hover map. Interesting, right? This tells you a lot about the copy on your website. It tells you what content is being read the most. It can even tell you the center of attraction for CTAs or website copy. You can use that knowledge to offer your users the kind of content that they want instead of creating copy that you think will work the best.

If you notice a sharp color change on the heat map, it tells you that the users can’t relate to the section that follows. This section may cause massive drop-offs for your users on that page.

Bring out the confetti:

The confetti heat map is similar to the classic heat map except that it lets you see each click on the page instead of the density of clicks. This is quite insightful as it tells you if your users are getting confused and trying to click on the non-clickable areas. You can then concentrate your efforts in reducing their labor. It can also help you to reduce the bounce rate on that page. It can show you if your users are getting confused by clicking the non-clickable parts and you can work on improving them. This also lets you track different metrics like the source of traffic – if your users read your email campaign or visited from your ad campaign.

Get the percentage of clicks:

Need more insight? Check out the percentage of clicks heat ma that compliment the classic heat map. It lets you see the clicks generated on the website at percentages per element. You can see the number of clicks generated by each element including CTAs or images. To have the capability to quantify the clicks per element is very important. You need to know how much importance your users give to each of the elements on the page so that you can guide your efforts accordingly.

You can see in the thumbnail above that there are small plus signs on the page. You can then further dive deep to understand the demographics of the clicks including new vs. returning users and choice of platform. You can also check if the different non-clickable elements on the page were mistaken to be CTAs and clicked by the users.

When to use heat maps?

You should always have a heat map active on your website and you should monitor it occasionally. We have listed down a few scenarios where you can find heat maps to be especially useful.

Website redesign:

Companies spend months and even years thinking about their redesign. Redesigning a website can be an expensive and time-consuming affair. Heat mapping can help you ensure that your new website overcomes the problems of your previous one and leads to more conversions. You won’t want a website that fares worse than the website it is replacing. From color combination to highlight areas and content optimisation, heat maps help you in more ways than one to build your next website. Be sure of the changes you want to implement by having a heat map before you start the process. It will save you a lot of headache afterwards.

Understand A/B tests better:

A/B test is a controlled experiment that tells you which design among the two versions performs better. A/B testing is used extensively by the market leaders to implement their decisions. Heat maps can help you gain more insights on the A/B tests you run.

It can help you discover what your users do differently between the two landing pages, CTAs, and other elements. It gives you more insights about what works in the better-performing variant. Was it the copy? Was it the placement of the section? Or was it the color of the CTA?

Issue with A/B testing is that it can’t tell you why one version works better than the other and it is why people resort to introducing smaller changes between the variants. With heat maps, you can learn what catches your user’s attention and what they click so that you can use A/B  testing to its maximum potential.

Content Marketing:

How do you know if your users are reading the words you write for them on the website? With our scroll maps, you can see how far down do the people scroll to read the content. See which of your CTA converts the most and take that learning to improve the  CTAs across your website. How does this translate in to real life? For example, let’s say that you dig your heels and frame a masterpiece of a blog post that is over 3000 words long on something as important as account safety. The post has a CTA in the end that lets users set up 2FA on their account. This blog post gets a steady amount of traffic from all the posts, features, and mentions on social media. But the heat map shows that people only a fraction of people are scrolling down to read the entire post. Instead of being worried about the length of the post, you decide to check the confetti report. It tells you that nearly everyone who reads the post taps the CTA. This changes equations. Your blog is already segregating the unqualified leads from the qualified ones. Yes, you can get such beneficial insights immediately from heat maps.

UX and Usability Testing:

What if you wanted to test the UX and usability of your website? Have you heard of the $300 million button? When an ecommerce giant replaced ‘Register’ with ‘Continue’ button and made it optional for buyers to create their account, their revenues shot up by $300 million in that year. You may want to do a little bit of UX testing of your own on your website.

This is where heat maps will come in handy. It can tell you where your users are clicking and where they are getting stuck. It will show you the prominence of your CTA buttons and if they are drawing the attention of your users. Are your user clicking something that isn’t clickable? Change that. Are your users confused about a line of copy? Edit it. Use A/B testing coupled with heat maps to see how these small changes make a world of difference compared to your base version.

Conversion Funnel:

You can significantly improve your conversion funnel with the help of heat maps. It can help you understand the user pain points and improve the usability and UX of your website. Right from understanding why your users are dropping off to any confusing element and what catches their fancy on the website, you can use the data to your advantage.



What is the difference between heat map and eye-tracking?

Heat maps takes into consideration the movement of the user’s fingers and clicks they make. Eye-tracking is based on analyzing the gaze of the users and noticing which part of the website are they paying the most attention to. Just like heat mapping, eye-tracking also highlight the most prominent sections in warm colors. Eye tracking is a little more expensive affair because of the extra equipment cost involved.

Take your learnings with you:

Heat map teaches you a lot like the following:

  • The headlines that work for your users.
  • What sort of creative or image works the best and if users interact with it. You can add a link if many users are clicking the image.
  • What captivates your users and takes their attention away from your content
  • Are all sections of your website visible and discoverable
  • Is your navigation  working as intended?
  • Can users navigate to respective sections easily
  • How much content is being read by the users?

Use a heat map and win your users:

Pattem Digital can help you leverage the power of heat map so that you can boost your business, improve conversions, and better understand your users. We can set up your first heat map in no time if you are up for it. Just drop your comment below, ask us any questions you may have or write to us at business@pattemdigital.com.



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