dotBiz

Last time, we had our first look at heatmaps and how they can help you understand how much of your web pages are being viewed by visitors.

If you missed it you can read it again at http://eepurl.com/2FpOP.

Heatmaps can not only show you how far down your page users are scrolling – they can show you a lot more.

Live mouse tracking shows you recordings of how actual visitors are interacting with your site. In real time, you’re shown exactly what the visitor saw on their screen, be it a desktop PC or a smartphone.

You can view how they scrolled up and down the page, how they moved their mouse around the screen, what buttons and links they clicked on and how they went about completing forms.

You may remember our previous example from last time of the form that was ‘below the fold’ on the page. This time, let’s imagine that you have an enquiry form that’s well placed on the page but is not getting used as much use as you’d thought it would.

After running some live mouse tracking and analysing the recordings you find that a lot more people than you realised actually start to fill out the form but stop part of the way through. They’re stopping at the section where you’re asking for a specific piece of information which must be completed, eg their date of birth.

Using that knowledge, you decide to make that particular form field optional to fill in - not compulsory. Immediately, you find an increase in the number of visitors completing your enquiry form – happy days.

Again, that’s a pretty simple example, but it shows you the benefits to be gained from more knowledge about visitor behaviour.

‘Click heatmaps’ help you discover patterns that are created over time by multiple users on your site.

They look similar to the rain radar images that you see on the weather forecast – areas that are clicked on the most have ‘hot’ colours, with lesser-clicked areas being shown in ‘cooler’ colours.

It can be fascinating – and eye-opening - to see just how your pages are being clicked.

You may discover that links and buttons that you thought would be most commonly used are, in fact, sidelined for other, less obvious links.

For example, you may be offering a specialist service and feel that the most important thing to do first is to explain how it works. You therefore have a large ‘How it works’ button on your homepage.

However, your click heatmaps show you that your much smaller ‘Pricing’ link gets clicked on just as much.

Obviously, people are wanting to know how much your service will cost them, so add a large ‘Pricing’ button alongside your ‘How it works’ button and make it easier for them to find that information.

Movement heatmaps show you how the mouse has been moved around your page in just the same way as click heatmaps.

Some studies have shown that there is a close tie between mouse movements and how people look around a page. The results from these should be used more as a guide than gospel.

Knowing how your website is actually being used gives you the facts you need to make informed decisions as to how it could be improved.

Andrew McEwan of The Web Workshop in Morebattle (www.thewebworkshop.net) helps businesses in the Scottish Borders and beyond with their online presence and digital marketing.