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Click Heat Maps

Improve Your Site Performance by Tracking Where People Click

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What is a Click Heat Map

A click heat map is a visual image of your web page showing the places that your readers click. Most heat maps are built with red being the most often clicked area down to blue or green being the least clicked (and no color being not clicked at all). Once you’ve had a click heat map program running on your site for a decent amount of time (approximately 1000 sessions is good), you can get a good visualization of where the most popular areas of your site are for clicking and use that information to better design and organize your site.

There are many different click heat map tools to choose from. One of the best known is probably CrazyEgg, but there are also free services like AttentionWizard (which generated the heat map image on this page) and ClickHeat (which is open source).

How Can You Use Click Heat Maps

Click heat maps are used to examine the usability of your web page designs as well as helping you improve your navigation and getting better monetization of the available space.

Optimizing Usability with Click Heat Maps

The most common usability problem is bad navigation. With a click heat map, you can see the areas of your page that people are clicking on the most. And you can also see the areas that people are rarely if ever clicking on. If these areas include your navigation you need to ask yourself what’s wrong. You can use click heat maps to:

  • identify the most popular links in your navigation and make sure they are grouped together
  • identify the least popular links in your navigation and either make them clearer, move them to a second-level navigation tier, or remove them altogether

Once you know where people are clicking in your navigation, you need to look at the pages where they are ending up. Make sure that those pages are well designed, optimized, and give people what they are looking for. One of the worst usability scenarios for a site is to have a user click a link, go to a page and get frustrated because they can’t find what they want or end up on a page that doesn’t seem to be correct. So, make sure that the most popular second stop on your website is just as good as the first stop.

Do Your Customers Click Where There are No Links?

One common usability issue on websites is when you create something that isn’t a link, but looks like one. For example, images. Most people expect images to be links. So if you don’t make an image a link, they will click on it and won’t go anywhere and get frustrated. The only way you will know this is happening is with a click heat map that shows where people are clicking on your web page, whether there is a link there or not.

You might also notice that customers are clicking in blank areas of the page, such as below navigation or in areas of white space. This tells you that this space could be better used by your design. Most people click in those areas by accident, but it’s a way to see where you could add elements (such as advertising or navigation) to make the page more effective and usable for your customers.

Clean Up Conversions

If you’re doing any ecommerce, then you know that conversions is the name of the game. You need to convert your browsing readers into purchasing customers. Click heat maps help you improve conversions by seeing where people are clicking. Once you know where they are clicking you can modify those pages to include more routes to a purchase.

You can also use the click heat maps to tell you where people are leaving the conversion process. If your web page has a clear conversion process with easy-to-use calls to action (buttons and obvious links), and people are not clicking on them, then you need to look at your page more closely. You need to look at both what they are clicking on as well as identify why they are not clicking on your call to action.

A click heat map might not be the final answer in improving your website’s bottom line, but it will give you the information you need to start further tests. And that testing will help you improve your site.

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