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Using heatmaps

Author: Justin Munro

In the constant strive to obtain as much data about the users who visit your site you may consider using a Heatmap on your website/app.

Heatmaps are graphical representations of where users are clicking on your website. Each time a user clicks anywhere on your website this click is recorded. When the Heatmap is viewed this click will appear on a semi-transparent overlay of your website represented by a colour. The colours identify how many clicks have been in a specific area of the website. The colours are usually scaled from blue through to green, then yellow and finally red. Blue being the low end of the scale where there have been a minimal amount of clicks and red being at the top end where a high concentration of clicks has occurred. As you have probably guessed the term Heatmap is due to blue representing cold as not many clicks and red as hot due to many clicks.

Heatmaps can be a very useful tool in monitoring how users are navigating your website and what they find interesting. They can show you what areas of your website are most popular and whether users are interacting with any features you have on your website.

For example on the Bluelinemedia website we recently added on a tab to the right hand side called 'Team'. When this tab is clicked on it opens up an area detailing contact and team information. We weren't sure whether anyone was actually clicking on this and therefore whether it had been a useful addition to the website. At the end of November we installed Labsmedia's ClickHeat Heatmap so we could track users behavior. We were interested to find that even though we have not been collecting data for that long we could see that users where clicking on that tab. See the image below:

You can also see from the image above other clicks that users made on the homepage of our website. The above Heatmap was only for a short period in November so it will be interesting to see the full month of Decembers stats.

There are many website analytical packages that offer Heatmaps that can be easily installed and used but the only free one we found was Labsmedia's ClickHeat. You do need to install it yourself but this just means copying files to where your website is hosted and running a script that Labsmedia supply in the ClickHeat files.