Using Heatmaps to Learn Your Users’ Behavior and Improve Their Experience

by UX Blog Team

How much your audience enjoys using your site can have a direct impact on your conversion rate.

In order to optimize the user experience on your site, you’re going to need to know where your visitors spend their time. Otherwise, you may find yourself doubling down on a segment of your site nobody interacts with and miss other opportunities for growth.

Not sure where to start? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about using heat maps to optimize UX.

So… What Is a Heatmap?

The term ‘heat’ may seem like an odd one to use in digital marketing, but it’s more relevant than many people may first expect. More specifically, heat refers to an area of concentration within a data visualization, or graphic representation of your site’s metrics.

For example, let’s assume that you’d like to learn more about where your audience spends their time on one of your site’s highest-ranking pages. A heat map will display areas of your page that your audience often interacts with as ‘hotter.’

Conversely, segments of your page that have little activity will be shown as ‘cooler.’

In general, there are three different metrics that heat maps measure:

  1. Mouse movement
  2. Scrolling
  3. Clicking

Through each of these user behaviors, you’ll be able to obtain a solid idea of how your audience spends their time on your site’s pages and where they tend to gravitate toward.

What Utility Do Heatmaps Provide?

With the above data, you’ll be able to answer specific questions that you may have about your website and audience. For example, you may wonder how many people actually read to the end of your blog posts, or what type of content/links they click on the most often.

Let’s dive into what else you can learn.

CTA Performance

Since the majority of calls to action are either a link or a clickable button, it’s relatively easy to find out which ones are the most effective through a heat map.

If your page has multiple CTAs, you’ll also see which types are the most popular. If the design is consistent among your CTAs, you’ll learn which tagline leads to the most clicks.

For example, you may be researching your CTA to pre-order a pair of running shoes that your company manufactures and discover ‘Get Your Pair’ outperforms ‘Pre-Order Now.’

This will help you make changes to other areas of your site and increase your performance in the future.

Design + Layout

Sometimes, an aesthetically-pleasing design may actually be a detriment. A heat map could show you that people spend much of their time looking at (or even saving) the images on your site as opposed to reading your content.

Similarly, you could also learn that certain elements are skipped over entirely (such as drop-down menus). While it’s always a good idea to optimize user experience, you don’t want to sacrifice your conversion rate in the process.

If you decide to get help from a professional regarding your site’s design, a heat map will also allow you to easily communicate problem areas and help optimize its appearance and layout in the future.

Scroll Depth

How far people scroll often has a direct correlation with the action they’re willing to take. In many cases, they may not even reach your CTA if they don’t scroll down far enough.

A heat map will clearly display how frequently users scroll on a particular page. Keep in mind, though, that anything above the fold (the segment of the page that’s visible without having to scroll at all) will show a high level of activity.

But, just because they reach this part of the page doesn’t mean that they’re reading or interacting with the content that’s readily available. So, you’ll need to research your audience’s mouse movement and clicks along with this information.

If you find that the majority of your audience stops scrolling after a certain point, be sure to place your CTA in a location people are likely to see before they navigate away from your page.


Sometimes, people may click aspects of your page thinking they’re links (or simply clickable in general). Upon discovering these elements aren’t able to be interacted with, they may avoid clicking on others that are.

From here, you’ll have the opportunity to add links to areas where people generally click. Similarly, you can manipulate certain elements to make them seem less clickable.

Underlined text, for example, often gives the impression that it’s a link to somewhere else. Simple fixes like this can help keep users focused.

Reasons Behind Your Bounce Rate

A bounce rate is a metric that describes users who visit your site and leave shortly after. If you combine your heat map data with the average time people spent on your site before leaving, you’ll be able to discern what elements led to them making this decision.

This is especially useful for pages that have a significant amount of traffic but don’t lead to as many conversions as they should.

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