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How to Use a Website Heatmap for Web Design

In this article, we’ll delve into the world of heat maps, exploring what they are, and how they are utilized.

Petrit Halitaj

SEO Manager

How to Use a Website Heatmap for Web Design

In the world of business, where connecting with potential customers is paramount, the continuous quest for more effective strategies never ceases. Among the various tools and techniques at your disposal, one, in particular, stands out – enhancing your website.


However, as a business owner or marketer deeply entrenched in your site and its offerings, detecting flaws in design and content can be a formidable challenge. Familiarity can blind you to elements that hinder potential customers from making that crucial conversion, simply because you already possess an innate understanding of your website’s navigation and content.


This is where the power of heat maps comes into play. In this article, we’ll delve into the world of heat maps, exploring what they are, how they are utilized, and the invaluable insights they can provide about your company’s web design.

What Are Heatmaps?

Heat maps are indispensable tools that shine a spotlight on the areas of your web pages that garner the most attention from your visitors. By employing heat maps, you gain the upper hand in comprehending visitor behavior, which‌ paves the way for substantial improvements to your site.


There are several approaches to deploying heat maps, with click or mouse tracking being the most prevalent. These maps reveal the precise locations where users position their cursors and subsequently click.


Another, less frequently employed variant of heat map stems from eye-tracking software. Yet, this method tends to be more costly and arguably less informative. It usually involves a control group, which means they may not necessarily represent your potential customers, potentially rendering their actions irrelevant to your products or services.

Benefits of Using a Website Heatmap

Heatmaps offer valuable insights and are particularly advantageous for the following purposes:


  • Understanding Visitor Perspective: Heatmaps provide a means to gain insights into the perspectives of your website visitors. You can strategically modify your site layout to prominently display your most critical content by discerning what captures their attention.


  • Issue Identification: They aid in pinpointing issues users may encounter while navigating your website, especially on mobile devices. This awareness allows you to address problems, ensuring a seamless and user-friendly experience for your site visitors.


  • Performance Analysis: Heatmaps are a powerful tool for assessing your website’s performance. They enable you to determine whether users are engaging with essential content or becoming distracted by other elements on the site. Armed with this data, you can eliminate distracting elements and position critical information more effectively.


  • KPI Assessment: Different types of heatmaps can be employed to assess various Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). For instance, a click map can reveal the most-clicked components on your website, while a scroll map illustrates how far users scroll down on a given page.


Individuals and Professionals Who Benefit Most from Heatmaps Include:


  • UX Designers: Heatmaps assist UX designers in gauging whether their designs prompt viewers to take action. They also facilitate usability testing and the identification of user behavior patterns.


  • UX Analysts: For in-depth website analysis, UX analysts rely on heatmaps to extract actionable insights that can ultimately enhance business outcomes.


  • Marketers: Marketers leverage heatmaps to comprehend what captures a visitor’s attention, enabling them to strategically position vital elements—such as Call to Action (CTA) buttons or special offers—in the most frequented areas of a web page. 

What Heat Maps Reveal About Web Design

Upon initial examination, heat maps may appear as nothing more than expansive, enigmatic red splotches across your web pages. However, with a discerning eye and some patience, you can extract three key revelations from them:


Discerning Visitor Intentions

The first aspect that becomes apparent on every heat map is the hotspots where your visitors usually click. These areas are usually highlighted in vibrant red hues. Ideally, they should coincide with your navigation buttons and calls to action. If they don’t, it serves as a valuable indicator of elements, diverting your visitors from taking the desired actions.


Identifying Image Effectiveness

Besides navigation, visitors hover over specific images. Conducting A/B tests in tandem with heat map analysis allows you to pinpoint the images that captivate your audience the most. If your goal is to draw attention to your written content, consider a judicious use of images that enhance the understanding of your products or services, rather than being overwhelming them with distractions.


Unmasking Confounding Elements

Last, one of the most compelling advantages of employing heat maps is the ability to uncover elements that perplex your visitors. Are they clicking on non-clickable items? Hovering excessively over unimportant areas? Dropping off at a specific juncture in your content?


By identifying these weak spots on your pages, you can embark on a journey of continuous improvement, addressing the aspects of your site that confound visitors. With each enhancement, you’ll witness a decline in bounce rates and an exponential rise in conversion rates.

How to Generate Your Own Heatmap: A Four-Step Guide

Creating a heatmap for your website involves a structured approach, broken down into four essential steps:

Establish Goals and Select Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Before diving into heatmap analysis, it’s crucial to clarify your objectives. Determine the specific reasons behind conducting this analysis. Ask yourself questions such as

  • Do you aim to evaluate overall website performance?
  • Which pages are of particular interest for analysis?
  • Are you concerned about low website conversion rates?


Pinpoint the problematic areas that require attention and choose the pages for analysis.


Consider options like

  • The homepage or primary landing pages to assess their ability to drive conversions, sign-ups, or navigation to other site sections.
  • High-performing pages to identify successful elements that can be replicated on other pages.
  • Underperforming pages to uncover issues that may hinder interaction or conversions, with the intention to rectify them.
  • Newly created web pages that lack historical performance data.
  • Specific sections within a particular page that warrant scrutiny.


Additionally, it’s essential to identify the key performance metrics you intend to monitor. These metrics can include:

  • Clicks on buttons, Calls to Action (CTAs), and other interactive elements.
  • Conversion rates.
  • Engagement rates.
  • Bounce rates.
  • Scroll activity.
  • Mouse movement patterns.
  • Most viewed elements.


The selection of KPIs is pivotal in determining the type of heatmap you should generate, which is the subsequent step in the process.

Choose the Appropriate Heatmap Type

Now that you have identified your tracking goals, it’s time to decide which type of heatmap aligns best with your objectives. There are primarily two main categories of heatmaps:



Interaction Heatmaps

Interaction heatmaps rely on tracking codes to record and quantify various user interactions with a website. These interactions may encompass clicks, scrolls, mouse movements, and more. Here are some variations of interactive heatmaps you can consider:


Scroll Map: Scroll maps provide insights into how far users scroll down a webpage, and help determine the optimal page length and strategic placement of important content. The map typically uses color coding, with red areas representing the most viewed portions, while numbers decrease as you move down the page. However, a red or orange area doesn’t necessarily indicate user engagement; it may suggest users are searching for specific content. Use this data to optimize the page by ensuring vital information is readily available at the start.


Click Map: Click maps reveal which elements on your site receive the most and least clicks, exposing potential navigational issues. By analyzing click heatmap data, you can identify areas causing user friction and potentially remove or adjust elements to improve conversion rates. Ideally, users should primarily click on buttons and CTAs, and if they interact with non-clickable elements like images or text, it may signify an issue that requires modification.


Mouse Movement Map: Mouse movement maps, also known as move or mouse tracking maps, provide insights into users’ cursor movement as they navigate your website. This data offers an understanding of what draws users’ attention while browsing your site. A spread-out heatmap may show distracting non-clickable elements on the website. This heatmap helps identify user frustration points, such as areas where users hesitate or hover their cursors. This information can guide you in identifying and addressing sources of friction on your site.


Attention Heatmaps

Attention heatmaps are more advanced and complex, focusing on what users visually perceive while scanning a website. They often incorporate eye-tracking technology to monitor factors such as eye movement, pupil dilation, and blinking to analyze which parts of the website capture users’ attention. This type of heatmap is also referred to as an eye-tracking heatmap. By collecting and analyzing data from an attention heatmap, you gain insights into the effectiveness of your website’s design and can address any issues to create a more user-friendly layout.


The choice between interaction and attention heatmaps depends on the specific insights you seek and your website’s objectives. Understanding the distinct characteristics of each heatmap type will enable you to make an informed decision for your analysis.

Choose a Heatmap Generation Tool and Configure It

Now that you’ve defined your analysis goals, identified the pages to analyze, selected relevant KPIs, and determined the type of heatmap you need, the next step is to pick a suitable heatmap generation tool and set it up. With many heatmap tools available, it’s essential to compare them to find the one that best suits your needs. Look for tools that offer multiple types of heatmaps to enable a comprehensive analysis.


Here are some of the widely used heatmap tools, along with their key features:


  • Hotjar: Provides click, tap, and scroll maps, as well as user feedback collection.


  • FullStory: Offers automatic insights, user session recordings, segmentation, and advanced search capabilities.


  • Smartlook: Provides user session recordings, automatic event tracking, and click, scroll, and mouse movement heatmaps.


  • Mouseflow: Offers click, scroll, attention, and movement heatmaps, user session recording, form analytics, and funnel tracking.


  • Lucky Orange: Provides dynamic heatmaps, real-time dashboard, daily email reports, user recordings, live chat, surveys, polls, and conversion funnel analysis.


  • Dragonfly AI: Offers real-time website analysis, live attention heatmaps, and user session recording.


  • Attention Insight: Specializes in attention heatmaps and provides the percentage of attention, along with competitor analysis.


  • Crazy Egg: Offers click, scroll, and various other heatmap types, segmentation options, and segment analysis.


The specific setup process for each tool may vary. You will typically need to add a tracking code or tag to your website’s code to enable the tool to monitor and collect data on your website visitors. 


The exact setup and configuration instructions should be available from the tool’s documentation or support resources. After implementing the tracking code, you can expect to receive heatmap results after a few days, though this timeline may vary depending on the tool you select. Be sure to consult the chosen tool’s guidelines for precise setup details and data collection timelines.

Analyze the Heatmap

After generating your heatmap, it’s essential to interpret and analyze the data it provides effectively. Start by examining the heatmap once you have accumulated a sufficient amount of website traffic, as more data allows for more accurate insights. Here’s how to go about reading and analyzing your heatmap:


  • Timing and Data Volume: It’s advisable to review the heatmap once you’ve gathered a substantial amount of traffic on your website. The accuracy of the results often improves with more data.
  • Filter the Data: Most heatmap tools offer filtering options based on various characteristics, such as location, operating system, traffic source, visitor type, device, date range, and more. Applying filters helps you get more precise insights about your target audience.
  • Focus on Key Metrics: Once you’ve filtered the heatmap data, pay attention to whether users are engaging with the elements you want them to focus on, such as Calls to Action (CTAs) and buttons. Consider asking yourself the following questions:

Is the Important Content Visible?

For scroll maps, check the position of the average fold, which represents the portion of the webpage visible without scrolling. If users are not scrolling far beyond this point, it suggests they are seeing essential information immediately upon arriving at the website.


Are Key Page Elements Clicked?

For click or mouse movement maps, analyze which elements users are clicking on. If clicks are primarily concentrated on clickable elements like links, buttons, and CTAs, it shows that the website design effectively guides visitors toward their next steps.


Are Users Clicking on Non-Clickable Components?

Pay attention to your click map; if users are clicking on non-clickable elements such as testimonials, photos, titles, or text, it may signify a lack of clarity in the website’s design. Visitors might be unsure about what is clickable and what is not.


Are Users Distracted?

Examine your mouse movement map to determine whether cursor movements are scattered across the page or concentrated on key messages. A scattered pattern suggests that users are being distracted by multiple elements on your website. In such cases, consider streamlining your website by removing clutter and distracting elements.


Effective heatmap analysis involves a combination of data interpretation and user behavior understanding. By addressing the insights gained from your heatmap, you can make informed design and content decisions to enhance the user experience and achieve your website’s objectives.

Final Thoughts

Website heatmaps are invaluable tools for enhancing web design and optimizing user experiences in the digital business landscape. These visual tracking tools provide deep insights into visitor behavior, enabling businesses and marketers to make data-driven improvements.


Heatmaps reveal user intentions, image effectiveness, and potential sources of confusion, offering actionable insights for UX designers, marketers, and analysts. By setting clear goals, selecting relevant KPIs, choosing the right heatmap type, configuring tools, and analyzing data effectively, businesses can continually enhance their websites to reduce bounce rates, increase conversions, and thrive online. Embracing heatmap insights is a roadmap to digital success and growth.

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