A Complete Guide to Using Heatmaps


Many professionals who analyze data today use heatmaps. These game-changers use visual research tools to study data trends. If you have never heard of heatmaps or want to know more,  you’ve come to the right place.

What are heatmaps? They’re software programs that group data together to show where things might need to be tweaked or moved, and where readers spend the most time on a website. Keep reading to find out how these analytic tools can help you!

What Are Heatmaps?

A heatmap is a data analysis software that shows user behavior on a website. It uses colors to visualize which areas get the most attention. The intensity of the color will vary to show user interaction and concentration.

The typical colors used are red, green, orange, and yellow. A website heatmap may even show the eye movement of users.

Why They Are Useful

A website heatmap could help improve the performance of a particular page on a site. They use a warm to cool color scheme and give a visual representation of storytelling. Decibel uses heatmaps to show problems and identify any opportunities. 

For people looking to discover what content should be on their page, heatmaps could answer that question. Anyone wanting to know how their website is performing could benefit from the use of heatmaps.

The data required to generate a heatmap will get used for a page that shows where users prioritize their time. That reduces the need to read large amounts of data.

What is a heatmap in business? They are direct visualization tools that show a snapshot of information. That makes them easier to use than charts and tables, which have to get interpreted.

It can show comparisons when using heatmaps side by side. That will display behavior changes based on parameters set on the website.

Types of Heatmaps

A general heatmap can show you a snapshot in colors. There are heatmap reports that dive deeper into the site to show more detail.

When viewing a heatmap, some users like to see a dot map that is sometimes called confetti. It illustrates where a user clicks, even if it is on something that is non-clickable. This shows you where a user might get frustrated and decide to leave the page or entire site.

A scroll map shows how far visitors went on your page before leaving it. That is good to know because if you have longer content on a page, readers may not see it. You might want to shorten it or move it somewhere else.

Overlay reports show clicks on a website as percentages. That will show the exact places your site gets the most clicks. You get to see the breakdown in a visual way.

A list report is useful for seeing trends in a graphical format. That is helpful because it can show if your most clicked items are not links.

Who Uses Them?

A website heatmap may seem like a new topic, but it has gotten used since the 19th century. These are now used in marketing, real estate, medicine, engineering, and other professions.

Real estate agents use them to track foreclosures. They also view credit default swaps. In 2008, when the housing market was going upside down, many people used heatmaps to compare foreclosures to see if the rates were rising, falling, or staying the same.

Heatmaps have been used in medicine to identify test optimization opportunities. It can show hotspots and reduce areas of confusion when physicians are ordering diagnostic labs.

Many companies have an online presence today. Marketing departments use heatmaps to show which parts of their company website are getting the most hits. They can use this data to improve the site or change it completely.

Energy companies rely on heatmaps to track energy consumption. Some consumers have examples of heatmaps on their electric bills to show when the most heat gets used during the year or month.

Bloggers and software engineers can use a website heatmap to show where they need to put a CTA (call to action). If readers don’t make it that far down on your site, you will need to move it to a better spot.

How to Use Heatmaps

Heatmaps show a visual picture that is easy to understand. For consumers who do not want to look into large amounts of data, these are a perfect fit.

If heatmaps get used for preliminary data, remember that all the data may not be released yet. That heatmap is for a glance, not for a full report, so use it as a snapshot.

When viewing a website heatmap, the darker color is the most concentrated area. That is where viewers spend the most time. The lighter colored areas are less populated and may need some tweaking.

When To Use a Heatmap

Heatmaps are great tools to use anytime. For anyone wanting to improve their business, a website heatmap is essential. It gives information that you would otherwise not be able to see.

When someone wants to test a move of their CTA (call to action), heatmaps will show the conversion rate. That will display if the move was a success or if it worked better where it was before.

If you want to know if readers are engaging with your site, heatmaps will show you. A simple scroll map will show if the customer is reading the whole page or stopping midway through.

For usability testing in online retail, website heatmaps will show if buyers are leaving their shopping carts. That could be a problem with the checkout button and can get fixed fast when knowing where the user stops.

What You Will Learn

What are heatmaps, and why are they so useful to your business? Heatmaps are quick, visual displays that show you what is happening with your website.

You will learn what topics and headlines draw attention and where readers go the most. It will show where to add or remove content and how you should format your website.

If you found this article informative, don’t forget to check out our other posts!