The Complete Guide to Using Heatmaps to Improve Your Website UX

Heatmaps can improve website UX by providing insights into user behavior and preferences, identifying areas of interest and friction, and informing design decisions.

Reshu Rathi
March 24, 2023
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Did you know that it takes just 50 milliseconds for a visitor to form an opinion about your website? This means you have a 0.05-second window to make a positive first impression! And remember, a positive first impression can make the difference between losing visitors forever or turning them into lifetime customers.

One of the best tools to improve your website UX and make a great impression is by using heat maps. They help you know what visitors do on your website and can provide you with deep insights into where your visitors click, how far they scroll, what content they spend time looking at, and what they choose to ignore. They also give you valuable information about the UI elements that are working and the ones that need to be improved. When leveraged well, heatmaps can help you turn your visitors into long-term customers.  

In this article, we’ll cover what a heatmap is, its types, what they are used for, and a few ways to improve the UX of your website using heatmaps. This can be quite handy while redesigning or optimizing your website to boost conversions. So, let’s get started.  

What is a Heatmap?

A heatmap is a visual representation of data where values are depicted by color. They make it easy to understand complex data at a glance.

Finance entrepreneur Cormac Kinney coined the term heatmap in the ’90s. He created heatmaps to help stockbrokers easily spot opportunities to buy and sell. They are now used by UX teams, digital marketers, and product managers to make decisions that help optimize flow and improve conversions.

A website heatmap visually illustrates how your users interact with your website and tells what part of your webpage your users focus on most. It does so by depicting the categories on your website in a color-coded format; bright colors like red, orange and yellow indicate the most engaged sections of the website. The lighter-colored portion in green and blue shows the low-engaged sections of the website.  

These heatmaps can help you gauge the level of attention, engagement, and interactions on your website.

To make it a little easy, here is an example:


In this heatmap, the dark orange spots show the elements that users interact more with as compared to the elements with the lighter spots.

Using this type of heatmap gives you insights into how your website design and layout impact users’ actions and can help you drive the conversion you desire.

Types of Heatmaps

There are many types of heatmaps, but we’ll cover a few major ones here in brief:

  • Click Heatmaps
  • Scroll Heatmaps
  • Eye Tracking Heatmaps
  • Mobile App Heatmaps

Let’s dive a little deeper into all of these types

Click Heatmaps

As the name implies, these heatmaps track where users click on the screen. You can use them to analyze the parts of a webpage that attract the most clicks and those that receive the least. And you can use them to determine which buttons are effective and which aren’t.  

By using click maps, you can track clicks on: CTA, Images, Links, and Navigation.


Scroll Heatmaps

These heatmaps show how far users scroll on any website page. They help optimize long pages by identifying the average fold and finding false bottoms. The average fold is the part of your page that most users see without scrolling, whereas the false bottoms are a design flaw that makes users think the page has ended before it actually has.  

You can use scroll heatmaps to identify the most visited areas of your website and use this information to place key elements, like CTAs.

scroll heatmaps

The dark color indicates where the user has spent the most time, and the dark-to-light color scheme indicates how far down the page a visitor has scrolled.

Eye Tracking Heatmaps  

These heatmaps can help UX teams gather and visualize data about the most and least attention-capturing sections and elements of a page. This data is collected by how often a visitor looks at any particular elements and on visitors’ fixation length. This data is then plotted in the form of an eye-tracking heatmap.  

Eye Tracking Heatmaps

Unlike other types of heatmaps that track users’ responses based on scrolls and clicks, this is more nuanced and helps track the subconscious responses of the users. This is particularly effective in understanding user behavior to design more intuitive experiences.

When leveraged well, an eye-tracking heatmap can help product teams to optimize their websites and increase conversions up to .  

Mobile App Heatmaps  

They are also known as touch heatmaps. They are visual representations of the numerical data of an app. The color overlay shows how each app element engages users and what areas they skip.

mobile app-Heatmaps

Apart from the above-mentioned types, there are a few others, such as Attention heatmaps, Move/Hover heatmaps, etc. As the name suggests, attention heatmaps highlight the sections of your website that get the most attention from users by considering how they navigate your website vertically and horizontally. The Move/Hover heatmap indicates a user’s mouse movement or the hover activity on your website.  

Leverage Heatmaps to Optimize Your Website Design

All these types of heatmaps offer valuable information if you know how to leverage them. They can be used to identify problem areas on a website or in an app by providing you with a lot of valuable insights on:  

  • Engagement levels: Identify the least engaging and most engaging areas of your desktop or mobile.  
  • Eye gaze: Track how their focus moves from one element to another.
  • Scroll: Heatmaps help you identify the average fold and false bottoms on your desktop or mobile.
  • Effectiveness of CTAs: Identify the least clicked and most clicked CTAs on page.
  • Navigation: How do your users navigate through your web pages? A heatmap can help pinpoint where the user is getting lost.  
  • Rage clicks/Frustration clicks: Which areas of your web or app are causing frustration for your users?

Four Ways to Optimize Your Website Using Heatmaps  

Below are four clever ways to use heatmaps to enhance your site’s design and improve conversions.


#1 Optimize Your CTA Performance with Heatmaps

We all know that getting your CTA positioned and worded correctly is crucial for both websites and apps, as it can help users move through the conversion funnel.  

American outdoor recreation products company North Face evaluated their CTA placement using heatmaps. North Face wanted to optimize the UX for its online gift guide, as the guide is a significant source of digital revenue for them. They wanted to see whether some UX changes could be done to ensure high revenue from the guide and used heatmaps for that. After the evaluation, they found that moving the CTAs above the fold increased their exposure by up to 50%!

#2 Remove Unnecessary or Distracting Elements from the Web Page

When it comes to optimizing your website or mobile app, it is important to know if there are any non-interactive areas that people often click on, if there are any clickable areas that users never click on, etc. This information can help remove distracting elements that take users’ attention away from the crucial elements.  

Just take an example of the KLM, a Dutch airline company, they used the heatmap to remove clutterfrom their web page and improve their website performance.  

how to create heat map

The company was getting a lot of complaints from its users that they could not search for their boarding passes and wanted to figure out what was going wrong.  

They used heatmaps, found that the cluttered web page was the main reason users could not find out what they were looking for, and used the insights to optimize its web page.

#3 Optimize Your Most Important Pages

You’ve probably heard before that layout plays a massive role in a website or app’s success. But did you know that 75% of users judge a company’s credibility based on visual design alone? This is especially true for e-Commerce websites, since the visual presentation of product images, CTAs, and other elements is critical to enhancing the shopping experience. And that’s why most UX designers try several layouts for their websites before zeroing in on one.  

Another aspect of design optimization is identifying the fold. Heatmaps help you identify the average fold so that you can place the most crucial elements above this fold.  

#4 Optimize Your Website for Multi-device Viewing with Heatmaps

It is no secret that users interact with your websites on multiple devices these days. Iin fact, 90% of people switch between devices to accomplish a task? And they expect a seamless browsing experience regardless of what device they use.

So, when it comes to providing a flawless user experience, you have to optimize your website for multi-device viewing. So how do you figure out how users interact with your website on different devices? Well, by using heatmaps. For example, you can use scroll heatmaps to find how far down your web page people scroll on different devices and use these insights to optimize your page design.

If you want to take your website UX to the next level and boost your conversion goals, you can use Affect UX.  


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Want to conduct lean and unbiased research? Try out Entropik's tech behavioral research platform today!
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Author Bio

Reshu Rathi
Reshu Rathi is an online marketing and conversion rate enthusiast. She specializes in content marketing, lead generation, and engagement strategy. Her byline can be found all over the web

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