What are Web Heatmaps?
We often get asked questions regarding website and search behavior. Some of these popular questions are “How do you know people will favor navigation items on the top or left?” and “Why do we have to be in the top few positions of paid search to get significant traffic?”.
Sometimes the most simple answer to these questions, isn’t a written answer at all, but an image. These images are called “heatmaps” and they illustrate the areas of high activity on web properties. Some heatmaps are created with retra-tracking goggles, while others are extrapolated from mouse activity. Often usability is nothing more than understanding human behavior and applying it for simplicity on the web. Below are some examples of common heatmaps.
The Google search heatmap (shown below) shows the common search behavior of consumers using Google to search for a product or information. Notice the listings on the top get the majority of the view and click activity. Credit to Eyetools for this heatmap.
This heatmap shows a common browsing and scanning path users may take when viewing a blog or news website. Author unknown.
This final heatmap from clicktale shows how navigation on the left gets a significant increase in attention, as compared to navigation and “sign in” links towards the right of the site. This shouldn’t be too surprising since we read top-down and left-right.