Heatmapping software like Crazy Egg and Hotjar make it easier to find patterns in user activity that might indicate problems with your website or areas for improvement.
Heatmapping is a useful tool in any marketer’s tool belt — as it can help you identify what’s hot (and what’s not) on your website.
Specifically, heatmapping tools provide a visual representation of user engagement and activity. By analyzing user data in the aggregate, you can gain new perspectives into which aspects of your website are performing as intended and which parts may not be hitting the mark with your target audience.
In this article, I’ll discuss the different types of heatmaps you should consider during your website audit process, and what each type of heatmapping can tell you about user activity and intent. I’ll also explain how heatmapping can fit into the broader contexts of a strategic website audit.
Marketers will frequently turn to heatmapping solutions as supplementary analytics tools that can be paired with more thorough data collection options like Google Analytics to provide better insights into user activity.
While there are numerous heatmapping solutions on the market (Crazy Egg, Hotjar, Mouseflow, Lucky Orange, and VWO heatmaps are some notable options), most center on collecting data around four key areas of user activity:
Taken together, these four key areas can supplement the macro event and session data collected by programs such as Google Analytics to provide new perspectives into how users interact with different elements of your site.
Marketers usually initiate or request website audits with two goals in mind. First, to understand how users are currently using the website. Second, to identify potential areas for improvement for a future redesign or refresh initiative.
While manual reviews of the website and data from sources such as Google Analytics can be helpful in achieving these goals, having deeper access to real-world user sessions in the aggregate as a heatmap can help you spot patterns in user activity from a data-driven perspective.
While you may have a feeling that users find different elements of your website helpful, heatmapping gives you the data to back up your assumptions with facts about real-world user activity. This can help you make more powerful statements about your website that you can then use to make informed decisions about your next steps.
For example, imagine if you could go to the decision-makers in your organization with the following data:
The granularity of these hypothetical datapoints can help you start the conversation on specific, tactical ways you can improve engagement and drive user activity.
Further, the inherently visual nature of heatmapping makes it easier for non-technical team members to understand user activity without having to comb through spreadsheets, Google Analytics reports, or other more data-oriented versions of the information.
Different audiences will interact with your website in different ways. Predicting and accounting for these different use cases is essential to improving the user experience and driving engagement.
The best way of accounting for different usage patterns is to audit your site so you can gain an understanding of how users are currently interacting with your content.
While data from services such as Google Analytics can be helpful, it also only provides a single perspective of this issue of user engagement.
Leveraging other perspectives — such as a manual review from a designer or SEO specialist and a thorough heatmap analysis of your core pages — is thus essential to gaining a comprehensive understanding in your audit of how users engage with and navigate around your site.
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