When you’re running a webpage you quickly learn that even small changes can often lead to big results when it comes to conversions. It is important to learn all you can about how visitors see your page so you can optimize it to meet their needs, as well as improve the conversion rate. Heat maps are one of the most effective ways to get inside the heads of your visitors and learn about what they are doing.
Eye Tracking Heat Maps – This type tracks the eyes of people surfing your web page. This method will tell you exactly where visitors are looking, but the down side is it has to be done using ‘test subjects’ since you can’t track actual visitors to your page with this method.
Mouse Tracking Heat Maps – This is a much more common method because you can easily track this information using software installed on your page. While the results are not quite as accurate, they still provide excellent information that can be very useful.
So, what can be learned from this important tool? Well, recent studies that have compiled the data from a wide range of different websites and other sources have found some interesting things. The following is a list of what we believe to be the top 10 things any website owner can learn from information gathered using heat maps.
While this will come as no surprise, most people spend the majority of their time on any website at the top of the page, or ‘above the fold’. Even those who do scroll down to see the rest of the page don’t stay down there nearly as long as they do at the top.
Now this may surprise some people, but on pages where you’re attempting to sell something most people who buy will buy the first thing they see. Even if they go on to look at other items, they often come back to the first one. With this in mind, always place the item you’re looking to sell the most of at or near the top of your page.
All things being equal, people spend much more time looking at the left side of web pages. With this in mind make sure you place your most important information on the left hand side of your page, and always above the fold.
If you have an image of a person on your page, make sure to take note of where their eyes are looking. If the model in the image is looking to the right, most people will also look over to see what is there. You can take advantage of this by ensuring any pictures of people on your page are looking in the proper direction.
People have been trained over the years to ignore online advertisements. Even those annoying flashing and blinking ads have largely been tuned out. With this in mind, take caution not to make the content of your page appear to be an ad or it will be ignored. If you are running ads on your page, try to make them appear to be valuable content and not just advertisements.
When you’re selling something on your page make sure to show them what they are saving by buying through you. Heat maps have shown that when you display both the original price and the new discounted price people are more likely to pay attention than if only the discounted price was displayed.
Bold headlines will always draw the attention of visitors. This not only means using larger lettering and bold fonts, but also making a bold statement. People are much more likely to read the content if it has an attractive and captivating headline.
On the subject of headlines, make sure the first word of that headline will really stand out. People often stop reading headlines after the first word if it is something bland. Skip words like “The” in favor of a shorter but attention grabbing option.
If you really want your users to pay attention to something, or to retain the information they are reading then use a smaller font. This will require them to concentrate on the words they are reading and that will not only help them retain it but it will often encourage them to continue reading to the end of that section.
While you can learn a lot looking at the results of heat maps on other pages, nothing is more valuable than specific information about your visitors on your pages. Adding a heat map to your page is a simple task and can give you invaluable results.
Written by Patricia Kier. I am fascinated with internet marketing and analytics. A big chunk of my work deals with website optimization and digital marketing.