How to use heat maps to improve your page performance
There are many ways to improve the performance of your website. No matter what aspects you wish to change - you should first figure out whether there are any elements that actually needs improvement. See how you can use heat maps to identify the issues and improve your page performance.
Essentially, heat maps visualise how visitors are interacting with your website and its elements. It’s possible thanks to dedicated tools, which record and quantify what people do with their mouses or trackpads, and then present the collected data in an appealing way. How can you use those insights to make improvements on your website, though?
Types of heat maps
Let’s start with the basics. It might not seem like it at first, but heat maps are actually a broader category that includes:
- Hover maps (also called move maps), which help you track any mouse-movements on the website. The idea behind it is that people tend to look where they hover over a page with their mouse cursor. This should be a good enough indication on how they read your website, yet, mouse-cursor tracking might not be as accurate as eye-tracking alone. Website visitors might easily be looking elsewhere - but it still can give you a lot of insights anyway;
- Click maps, on the other hand, show you where and how often the web users click on certain elements of your site. It’s a great way to optimise internal linking - you can see whether your links are being clicked on, or get some new ideas on where to place clickable elements;
- Scroll maps work a bit differently, as they show you how far people scroll down on a page. It’s worth to keep in mind that users might scroll for a while, but their attention span is short. That’s precisely why you should place the most important details at the top of your website since they may not make it all the way to the bottom.
Speaking of all the ways you can track the behaviour of your web visitors, it’s also worth to mention the user session replays. They don’t really fall under the “heat maps” category - but are as valuable. Basically, apart from tracking all the mouse movements, clicks and scrolls, dedicated tools record video sessions of visitors going through your site, and allow you to watch and analyse these recordings.
Unlike heat maps, this kind of data is qualitative - you can easily see any usability issues for yourself. It means, however, that drawing actual conclusions from such videos will require some more time and effort from you.
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Use heat maps to improve the performance of your site
No matter the specific type, heat maps can serve as a powerful tool for developers, marketing professionals, and customer support agents. They simply provide useful data on the performance of your site and its content - by drawing immediate attention to the issues on the website and indicating the areas that might need some improvement.
What exactly get you get out of them?
1. Heat maps allow you to learn from your users.
Being aware of how visitors use your site helps you create a better web design. In essence, heat maps can help you understand how the visitors use your site (and whether they “land” where you want them to). Instead of constantly asking your visitors for feedback or encouraging them to take surveys, you can just take a look at the session replays. It’s simple as that. Whenever you have a new landing page to test, you can combine A/B testing with heat maps and session replays to learn from your users without being intrusive.
2. Heat maps help you understand your visitors and improve their experience with your site.
Learning from your users can also help you understand them better. After all, your website should be tailored to both the business goals you want to achieve, as well as the needs of your target audience. Whether your goal is to sell a product, increase brand awareness or pitch an idea, your visitors automatically become potential customers. That’s precisely why you should understand how they react to your content and whether you there’s a need to organise it differently. If you’re listening to your audience and learn from them, you can easily offer proper user experience in the long run.
3. Heat maps let you optimise your site in terms of SEO.
Having your content well-optimised for SEO is a must, but the quality of the website is equally important. Once the visitors land on your website, they should be satisfied with the results of their search. That’s hardly surprising - Google is always trying to serve the best possible results to users, which is why you should, yet again, ensure proper user experience. This is much easier with heat maps and session replays, when you know how your site is being used, and what might be wrong with it. As a result, you can not only determine the ideal content length and its structure, but also improve internal links & navigation, or optimise image placement. All of the above factors have an impact on SEO.
4. Heat maps can improve conversion rates.
Heat maps will show you exactly where (and where not) visitors click on the site and what attracts their attention. This is especially important when optimising CTAs and their placement. Basically, you can use that information to organise your website properly - highlighting any CTAs you want, and encouraging certain actions from your visitors. This way, you can improve conversion rates more easily.
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As you can see, heat maps and user session replays can definitely complement analytical apps in your toolkit. The insights they provide are quite unique when comparing them to other tools, which is why you should definitely give them a try if you strive to improve your page performance.
Once you’re at it, you might want to see LiveSession in action - especially since there’s a free trial available. You’ll immediately learn that recording how a user interacts with your website, analyzing their behaviour and drawing conclusions from it in order to improve the performance of your site have never been easier