One of the most useful tools we have as a business to help make informed decisions about web design, user experience and conversion optimisation for our clients is heat mapping software. This type of software, once installed on a website helps us visually see how users interact with our sites. The reports overlay visual information on top of a screenshot of the website, which our minds find easier to understand and draw insight from than just the raw data.
As our clients are typically looking for conversion optimisation advice for their business sites, we tend to focus on click maps rather than mouse over maps. You might use a mouse hover map in many situations, but in my experience they’re better for online tools (like a Google Adwords interface, for example) rather than a business site.
That aside, let’s get into it!
Reason 1 – Make the most of your content
Heat mapping studies tell us a number of things about how people read content on your website, which can help us make informed decisions on whether to re-write or re-design your content for the greatest impact, e.g.…
- Eye-tracking studies showed users dedicate around 80% of their attention looking at content above the fold, and only about 20% scrolling down through your website. Thus signifying the importance of getting your important content in early!
- Similar tests revealed users spent twice as much time focussing on the left hand side of the page than the right… so display pivotal information, e.g. navigation and important links, on the left of your webpage.
- People generally skim-read webpages, evident in the “F” shape pattern found in eye-tracking studies. This shows that people tend to read the important first two headings, and scroll down the left hand side, skimming across the bulk. Therefore, it’s important to have informative headings and subheadings, and incorporate scan-friendly bullet point information.
Analysing where people are most engaged on your website and adjusting your content accordingly is a sure-fire way to ensure your most important information is not being missed by your website visitors.
Reason 2 – Cater appropriately to your audience
Understanding your audience is an important tasks for all marketing activities, including the design and function of your website. For example, one study on the impact age has on performance when using the internet concluded that over 55-year-olds fail twice as much as under 25-year-olds in performing website tasks…
Therefore, if your target audience includes or is focussed towards an older demographic, ensuring your website interface is non-confusing, easy to operate and easy to navigate throughout could dramatically affect your conversion rates. On the other hand, if your target audience is geared toward younger, web-savvy individuals… you may benefit from experimenting with more innovative design and navigation elements.
Analysing the average time people are spending on your website is a great way to understand your audience’s user experience… with a high bounce rate obviously suggesting confusion or poor experience.
Reason 3 – Help choose the right images
A picture says a thousand words, right? So you should dedicate 1000x more consideration on the pictures than the words on your website…? Perhaps not… nevertheless, understanding how users best relate to images on your website can be achieved through heat mapping studies to ensure your images have the impact you desire. For example:
- Heat map studies have concluded that website users naturally follow the direction of a model’s eyes on your website.
- Emotions on models faces are also proven to have a direct affect on conversion rates.
- This study showed users spent 10% more time analysing genuine photos of employees than reading information, and almost completely ignored ‘stock’ photos used to fill space or ‘jazz-up’ a website.
- Detailed or information-carrying product photographs are also seen to have a positive impact on conversion rates in the same study.
Thus, heat mapping studies can help you understand how careful consideration of image selection can directly impact user experience and conversion rates on your website.
Reason 4 – Test your ‘clickability’ & improve conversion
Click mapping technology can be used to test where users are most engaged on your website, and suggest adjustments to layout, content and emphasis in order to ensure your most important ‘calls to action’ are generating the most hits, and thus positively impacting conversion rates.
For example: TechWyse discovered through heat mapping that colourful but less-important images were taking away attention from calls-to-action, and thus redesigned their homepage as described in this interesting article. They even further experimented with using less contrasting colours for non-clickable images, and high-contrast colours for desired buttons – to great success!
Similarly, CareLogger experimented with different button colours to ultimately achieve a 34% increase in conversion from changing button colours!
Reason 5 – Assistance in choosing a web design that works
All of the before-mentioned reasons lead to developing a website design that works specifically for your audience… however there are a number of general observations discovered through heat mapping tests that are vitally important to keep in mind. For example:
‘Banner Blindness’ – referring to website users tendency to consciously or subconsciously ignore any banners that look like advertising. We are bombarded with so much advertising online these days, that we have developed a natural ability to ignore blatant advertising, or anything that may look similar…
Website Design Standards – heat mapping has provided a lot of useful data in to modern-day website users expectations of a general set of standards, and how trying to be too different with your website design can cause people to abandon your site due to unfamiliarity. Examples of such standards include: company logo in top left corner, search tab in top right corner, links changing colour once clicked, a ‘home’ button (often linked to company logo), etc…
The best way to ensure your website conforms to up-to-date web design standards, and avoid accidently sacrificing important information to banner blindness, is to employ experienced and professional digital marketing assistance.
To find out more about how your business website could benefit from heat mapping analysis and testing, contact Webfirm today!