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The heat map, also known as a heatmap, can be defined as a tool for the graphical visualization of data. In this case, the data is presented in the form of colors, which allows the detection of the most complex and non-complex data.

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What is a heatmap?

Its origin dates back to the 19th century, a time when manual grayscale shading was used to illustrate various raster data. In this way, the term “heatmap” first appeared in the early 1990s. At that time, a fintech entrepreneur named Cormac Kinney designed a hardware for real-time graphic display of financial market information. Nowadays, many people are still trying to create this tool manually, but this time with the help of specialized software, the best known of which is Excel.

This invention is useful for owners of websites, in that it ranks items from the most famous to the least popular. This is done with the help of a variety of colors, usually ranging from red to blue. Thus, users can, determine the interest that the general public has in a given web page. This overview is an incredible decision-making tool. It effectively displays the trends, which usually compels the owner to optimize his online platform.

What can you observe on a heatmap?

In order to display the current trend of a site, the heatmap highlights a spectrum of hot and cold colors. The visitor can thus see if a page is more interesting than another. This one shows the scrolling distance of the page. If all is well, the CTA above the fold will be a bright orange. If not, you should consider putting it a little higher on the page. It can then contribute to the visual, which will certainly attract the attention of Internet users.

In short, we can consider this tool as “a form of visual storytelling”. Indeed, at a glance, it exposes the behavior and attitude of visitors to a given page. It also helps to answer an important question, that of the appropriate location to consider for its content.

Focus on how the heatmap works

The principle is quite simple. A software collects information inside a web page. These will be displayed, in turn, on this same page. Thus, after choosing a Web page, you have to select its URL. During the loading of the HTML, the data is transmitted, in parallel, to servers. This is possible thanks to a “short section of JavaScript” that is integrated into the site’s code. Each element of the page will then be translated into a map.

Each element here refers to anything that can interact with visitors. To this will be added the various tags, without forgetting the parent elements. Only then will the actual collection of activity data take place.

A signal is then emitted automatically each time a user performs an action on the said web page. It should be noted that this emission is the result of a succession of behind-the-scenes interactions. Nevertheless, this article will not dwell on these details which are not mandatory to take advantage of a heatmap.

Now, if a visitor clicks on the CTA of a web page, that click is saved. It will then be added to all the previously saved data. This gives a summary of what each individual did on the page, looking at the dashboard level.

The heatmap exposes the most clicked locations, creating a bright area that is also called “hot spots”. Even a beginner will be able to determine which areas of the site are the most visited. It is also possible to define which are those which require more engagements or even more animations.

What are the different heatmaps available?

The term “heatmap” refers to a global set of elements requested by heat mapping. In this sense, one can scroll the map, click on it and finally move it. It is essential to distinguish between these three points. Each of these elements is, indeed, essential for the analysis of the performances displayed by a website.

Scrolling heatmaps

It is possible to determine the right percentage of visitors who have scrolled up and down a web page using a scrolling heatmap. This way, areas colored in red will be more visible to Internet users.

Click heatmaps

A click heatmap provides an overview of the most clicked areas on the web page. In the case of a mobile device and not a PC, we would rather talk about touch heatmaps. These show the different places where visitors touch the screen with their fingers. These click maps use red, orange or yellow color codes to define the most touched or clicked locations.

Displacement heatmaps

These heatmaps are also relevant in that they track the movement of the mouse throughout the visit of a given page. This will show areas of cursor movement as hot spots. The displacement heatmap thus provides an indication of how people behave as they move through the interface.

Mobile and desktop heat maps

This fourth category of heatmap allows for a comparison between the performance of the same website. It can happen that a content must be placed on the desktop page. However, this content is found more in depth, inside the tabs. Checking for a possible difference in interaction may then be necessary.

The Confetti Report

This is a classic heatmap model, but quite special. This heatmap promises, indeed, a “high resolution view”. This is advantageous in that you get a preview of every click you make. On the report, this element will appear as a colored dot.

What are the advantages of using heatmaps?

For a website, the usefulness of heatmaps is obvious. First of all, it is a way to know how the interaction between a web page and its visitors is going. The site owner thus has a good basis. Indeed, these allow to find answers to the main questions that the user asks. He will be able to detect the potential reasons for the lack of conversion and act accordingly.

Heatmaps allow to know if the user of the site can see or not the core of the proposed content. If in the meantime, a bug was caused on a device or if there were distracting elements during the visit, all this can be checked. However, the role of a heatmap within a business goes further. By showing the graphs to a team, it becomes easy for each member to join the cause and propose solutions.

When should you use a heatmap?

The heatmap is a powerful tool for all website owners. Indeed, several scenarios can lead to use it.

The redesign of a website is one of them. In general, this type of operation is costly and time consuming. A heatmap will then be used to “understand the behavior of the Internet user and the way visual and graphic elements can impact him”. The goal is obviously to enable a more efficient conversion. It is also important to note that these attitudes are not similar from one platform to another.

On the other hand, there are the A/B tests which allocate a non-negligible amount of conversions. From this perspective, the information extracted from the heat map is immediate. A real distinction is therefore made between a company that is struggling to survive and one that is growing rapidly. In this sense, the conversion rate of the page appears when changing the images, the copy or simply moving the CTA button.

This, at the same time, highlights why one page shows more conversions than others. If, for example, the page that converts better has the particularity of being long, you should think about making all the other pages longer.

The use of the heatmap also affects the content marketing. For a page, the words that constitute the content are very important. Again, we will put forward the scroll heatmap to see how far the users can be interested in the content. To have more details, the click map is also to be considered.

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