It’s more often associated with weather reports, where reds, blues and yellows are used to show areas where it’s stormy. But heat mapping – where colours represent a visual representation of data – are now being used across a range of industries, from real estate (where heat maps are used to show an area’s house prices) to the risks of web fraud. And, according to one startup, it’s the ideal way to analyse your website’s hotspots – and icy areas.
“A few years ago, we noticed that many of the people – mostly marketers – in the companies we were consulting had a problem understanding the data they were getting from analysis products,” says Hiten Shah, cofounder of heat-mapping service Crazy Egg. “They simply couldn’t interpret the data and make meaningful changes to the user experience on their website.”
Instead of pages of written statistics, Crazy Egg, which describes itself as “like a pair of X-ray glasses for your website”, produces multicoloured diagrams. They show data, such as where people look on a page (hint: it’s the left), the point at which most people stop scrolling down your page, and the difference between what men and women want from content.
It can also answer questions such as, “Why aren’t more people signing up to my email newsletter?”, by showing whether users are actually noticing your email opt-in box.
According to Hiten, heat maps reveal common mistakes. “Too much copy,” he says, “Or not enough copy that is specific to the business or product.” He also cites slip-ups such as having more than a single focused call-to-action, annoying pop-ups that aren’t useful, and making website changes without understanding what the users’ problems are.
Even if your homepage recently went live, experts say heat mapping is still worth the investment. “If you just launched, your most important thing is to understand what people are doing on your website,” says Hiten. “Our heat maps can help you see what each and every visitor is doing and understand where they get stuck. You can stop guessing what’s working and start seeing it for yourself.”