So You Think You Know Heat Maps?

Talya Rachel Judovits
November 24, 2011

hot pepper So You Think You Know Heat Maps?Do you know how to translate all the extreme color of heat maps into powerful money making action during your website optimizations? These explosions of color narrate visitor usage patterns on your site to help you achieve the highest ROI with your a/b testing and webpage redesigns. BUT, you have to know what to look for.

Some Like It Hot

mousemove heatmap 2 So You Think You Know Heat Maps?When a webpage receives abundant red hot attention from visitors, simply put, visitors want and are encouraged to interact with that particular element or section of the page, whether you intended them to or not. Therefore, it is important to know if certain red areas of high engagement are actually helping or hurting your conversion process.

Fact: For many ebusinesses, red hot sections on heat maps are NOT responsible for increasing website conversion, rather increasing website abandonment.

What should you do?

1. Check to see where visitors are clicking, expecting links where there are none.

2. Decide whether popular webpage elements, specifically which links, are distracting visitors from the major call to actions on the webpage.

3. Find out if the section of the page you originally intended is where visitors are engaging. Does the red hot section include a major call to action on the page?

You may want to make certain text into links or change the appearance of the text so visitors do not expect a link. For those links you do have on the page, determine whether they push visitors down the conversion funnel or hold them back. If any webpage element causes visitors to navigate backwards and get distracted from completing conversion, it should not be a link.

The Cold Hard Truth of Heat Maps?

Icicles at Sunset by Chris Potako So You Think You Know Heat Maps?So what does it mean, when a specific area of the page is blue cold and visitors are not engaging? What conclusion(s) can you make?

1. The content is not interesting enough for visitors to interact with. (Often NOT the case)

2. The content is not visible on the page, either hidden to one side of the page or located below the fold. (VERY often the case)

3. The content/webpage elements are irrelevant or not attractive enough to encourage visitors to interact with the page.

What should you do?

Evaluate your webpage using heat maps. Decide whether webpage elements you value are valued by your visitors as well. Should they be repositioned on the page (moved above the fold or to a different side), or are they in need of a complete redesign? Once you clearly see where visitors are not reaching with their mouse, you know which webpage elements you need to improve.


Each color on heat maps does not translate the same way for each element, or each webpage. Red may mean great usability in one area of the page, while it means visitor abandonment trigger in another. So be careful when conducting your own analysis and make sure that you take into account the role of each web element on the page towards customer conversions.

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  1. Conversion Paths | Conversionator V2 N49 | Flow Visualization | Diamond Website Conversion Says:
    December 7th, 2011 at 3:29 am

    [...] Analytics & Usability blog offers an important reminder to do a thorough heatmap analysis in So You Think You Know Heatmaps? to make sure that you take into account the role of each web element on the page towards customer [...]

  2. Fabio Says:
    December 15th, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    Great post Talya.

    Although I do feel that heatmaps are useful and click density is a good thing to know, it cannot tell you what to test.

  3. Talya Rachel Judovits Says:
    December 19th, 2011 at 9:42 am

    Hi Fabio, thanks for your comment. You are absolutely right, heatmaps don’t tell you what to test, but ClickTale’s conversion funnels do. Conversion funnels find the pain points (pages to test) in your visitors conversion path and then heatmaps tell you what’s wrong and what needs to be optimized.

  4. Photos – My Photos Have Been Appearing Everywhere | Chris Potako Says:
    October 27th, 2012 at 6:09 pm

    [...] Icicles at Sunset – The Cold Hard Truth of Heat Maps? [...]

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