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Usability Tools

5 years ago 5 min read

3 Ways to Use Heatmap Software to Understand Your Visitors


Usability Tools

Whether you have an online bike shop or sell SaaS services, these three easy tools can help you to better understand your visitor’s behavior. Use this knowledge wisely and you may be surprised how simple mouse tracking analytics with heat map software can help you to improve your business.

People Won’t Read Your Content

Well, at least not all of it. We all know the basic truth that people scan through websites without paying much attention to the message, especially if it’s in writing. Research shows that the average attention span of an adult has decreased from twelve seconds to just eight in the last 13 years! Yes. Eight. This means no tiptoeing around to get to the point. Your visitors need to take in the message and act within just eight seconds or they move forward. How can you hold their attention for longer?

One: Make the letter F Your Favorite

Nielsen Norman Group did eye tracking research on how visitors scan content. Using heatmap software they prepared a heatmap based on visitors’ eye movements and discovered that most people share a reading pattern whose shape brings to mind the letter F.

F-shaped Pattern; source
F-shaped Pattern; source

The first two paragraphs have become the ones people most likely will read and then their attention goes bye-bye. How can you use this knowledge when preparing your message?

  • A good headline should catch people’s attention and deliver your message instantly
  • No long text paragraphs – unless you want to get your visitors to become discouraged more quickly
  • Use bullet points and lists
  • Information first – cut out long descriptions

If you don’t have the equipment to conduct eye tracking research, don’t worry. You can use heat map software online to achieve a similar effect and check Nielsen Norman Group’s theory. Tracking visitor mouse movements might be a great way of gathering customer experience metrics for your business. Easy to conduct remote user testing research like this can help you to create a heat map analysis and patterns for your visitors.

Two: Flip the View

Once you’re done with mouse tracking analytics and heat map software, you may want to view your results from a different perspective. The F-shaped pattern shows exactly where your message catches the visitor’s attention. This may be a little misleading, especially if you start to focus on creating F-shaped content.

Have you ever stopped to wonder exactly what it is that visitors see? A great tool to help you see through your user’s eyes is the reverse heat map. This tool is somewhat underestimated but when you stop to think about it, it’s actually a better indicator of what stays in your visitors’ minds after they scan your website.

Black field shows what is blank for visitors; source:
Black field shows what is blank for visitors; source:

Looking at the examples above shows exactly how much space on your website gets wasted by unread content that didn’t even attract visitor attention. Good UX design should be targeted on creating websites that are useful and not just a waste of your cyberspace. How to make better use of your website’s wasted space?

      • Use visuals to fill in space, make a point and enhance the message (see this study on how good images boost conversion)…
      • …or just simply switch your text message to a visual content
      • Use reverse heat maps to determine wasted space and fill it in with smart call to actions
      • Use contrast to tell the story and help visitors understand the message

Three: remember the 80/20 rule and wing it the smart way

Other research by Norman Nielsen Group on scrolling and attention have revealed that even if users scroll your page, they will give 80% of their attention to the content above the fold. Surprisingly, NNG have conducted similar research a couple of times spread over 15 years which shows this is a pattern that doesn’t change – no matter how advanced the UX design knowledge gets.

Using a simple heatmap software can show how this theory translates to your website. Using an attention map is a perfect way to determine which content gets the most attention. Adjust it and test which message gets out to your audience.

Content above the fold; source:
Content above the fold
And content below the fold for the same webpage; source:
And content below the fold for the same webpage;

What first comes to mind after becoming familiar with this research would be: put everything above the fold. But it’s not that simple. The space above the fold is limited. Making it too crowded will only reduce the users’ attention span and will draw them away from the message and actions you want them to do.

So above all, make Call To Actions visible at first. But… this may be a bit boring, so what’s the solution?

Surprise your visitors. Consider a parallax scrolling based design. This, of course, takes a certain level of skill and should be well thought out and planned but it can only set your business apart from many others and add value to your service.
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Usability Tools

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