What Is A HeatMap?

April 20, 2013 · 20 comments

in WordPress

What Is A HeatMap?

Button says: "Would You Click Here?"Is Your Website Hot Or Not? 
Use A Heatmap To Find Out!

Once your visitors have arrived on your site – what do they DO? First, second, third…

What do they click? 

Without actually stalking your visitors and looking over their shoulder it can be hard to know whether your site structure is leading people to “naturally” arrive at a point of conversion… 

Fortunately, that’s what heatmaps are for! 

What Is A Heatmap?

A heatmap is a visual depiction, using color, to indicate which items were hotter, and got more clicks than items that were cooler and got minimal clicks. 

A heatmap is a very powerful yet super-easy-to-understand tool to decide if your design, layout, and navigation is doing what it should be doing!

In a heatmap, you will see a slightly darkened copy of your website, behind colored blobs that indicate clicks… 

The brighter colored spots indicate an item or location that was clicked repeatedly. 

More color (lighter/brighter/redder) indicates more clicks. 

The key to a heatmap is to pay attention to what did not get clicked if you wanted it clicked compared to things that got clicks that probably didn’t NEED clicked. 

By first understanding your visitors experience with your site, you can then subtly control their journey through your site… and into your conversion funnel! 

Want to Create Heatmaps?

There are multiple ways to create a heatmap for your blog including services that rely on a little code snippet being added to your blog and WordPress plugins. 

Heat Map software and services include are readily available for nearly any type of website. 

An example of such services are Experiment.ly, CrazyEgg, Lucky Orange, and Clicky Analytics.

An example of a heatmap plugin is Click Heat Dynamo. Several of the above services also have a plugin available to make installation easy. 

What Does A Heat Map Look Like? 

This is an example of a recent (at time of writing) heatmap from my home page before I do some upcoming modifications. 

heatmap screenshot of my home page

You see those blue dots on the image above? Those are places that people clicked!

So in that image…. blog, home, search box, the optin form fields, and the corner of the header graphic were all high-click items. 

The lack of dots on the video should tell you a lot about what I’m seeing in terms of performance for video in web design elements at this time. 

What Is Measured On A Heatmap?

Generally speaking, heat maps measure clicks. This tells you about which screen elements got clicked on by the visitor.  These may be called Click Heat Maps

Another version would be a Scroll Heat Map which uses a similar color scheme but a gradient of color to tell you about the percentage of visitors that scrolled down your web page.  This lets you evaluate at what point 80 or 50% of the visitors stopped scrolling and thus did not see off screen elements. 

A third type, is actually a cousin of heat maps, provides for Mouse Tracking. This shows you what elements the visitor moved his/her mouse too (perhaps to check hover text) even if they did not click. This is newer and not provided by most services. 

What Don’t Heatmaps Do? 

Heatmaps do not actually tell us about conversion. They may tell us that a button got clicks but they can not tell us the percentage of visitors that clicked it. Choosing a heatmap from a company that does Analytics can help ensure you get that data too. 

They also can not give instant results!  Building a heatmap is an “experiment” and you have to set up the experiment and allow enough time to lapse for enough visitors to visit the page to generate the pretty picture you see. 

For smaller sites, it may take a long while to build a heat map (yet I still recommend it because of what you learn from the data). On a busy site, a heatmap generally takes 30 days to collect enough data to be useful. 


As you can see, Heatmaps are a powerful but very easy to use tool for your website or WordPress blog. 

Getting started can be as easy as signing up for a service and installing a code snippet or plugin to start collecting data. 

Have you used a heatmap to check the performance of your visitor’s experience? 

~ Kim ~
Simple Tech Tips For Marketing 

PS: The heatmap above was created with Experiment.ly which I talk more about in “Set Up A Heatmap Test For Your WordPress Site With Experiment.ly

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Jupiter Jim April 20, 2013 at 1:16 am


Great Post. I never realized that it was so simple and easy and affordable to track clicks on a WordPress website. Thanks for sharing the resource links as well.

As for your heat map, it seems like visitors are doing a lot of the right things –> signing up in your opt-in box, clicking on “blog” and “facebook” tabs in your navigation menus.

And reminding people that it will probably take at least 30 days to get some meaningful results is a good thing. Most people aren’t used to waiting that long to get useful information from a plugin or service. They are used to “real time” visitor stats (like statcounter.com ) or only waiting a day for results like with Google analytics.

Thanks for sharing!

~ Jupiter Jim
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Carolyn April 20, 2013 at 10:52 am

Hi Kim, I’m a big fan of heat maps. I use a heat map on my site with Clicky and it’s fascinating to see which parts of my posts interest readers the most.

But what also interests me is when I see hot spots that aren’t links. Are people really clicking on my article in places where there is no reason to click? Are they confused?

I didn’t know other plugins had this capability too. Everyone should jump on this to learn which part interests their readers the most.
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Chery Schmidt April 20, 2013 at 11:31 am

Hi Kim, I have never heard of this Heat Map before I do use Google Analytics but this looks like you can gain way more information. It is very interesting to me to see those blue dots where people are actually clicking. I would be curious to try this out.. I am always learning something new from you every time I stop by. Thanks for shaing Kim. Have a Wonderful Weekend. Chery :)
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Lisa April 20, 2013 at 11:33 am

Very nice Kim! I have seen similiar things like this with some of my websites dashboard but not for WordPress. It’s a great tool to learn what others are using your site for and how they are moving around it. Thanks so much for sharing this with us.
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Sarupa Shah April 21, 2013 at 1:59 pm

As I get deeper into my blog – the technical side becomes more relevant and TY for explaining this Kim as it is very useful and relevant!
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Michael Shook April 21, 2013 at 2:07 pm

In a perfect world, our visitors would read our minds and click where we want them to click. But second best is knowing where they do click and re-arranging the emphases on our pages to line up what they click on and how we arrange our sites.

I had not heard of this service before, and I am glad to find out more about it.


Brian April 21, 2013 at 6:35 pm

I’m not sure if I need a heat map Kim. If I’m wrong please tell me. The reason I say that is because my site has about a 90% bounce rate. People search Google, they find a particular page on my site, they click, they see, they leave.

Until I start seeing people go to my home page, I doubt it’d be necessary to use a heatmap plugin etc. I may be totally wrong, but will rely on your expertise.



Kim Castleberry April 21, 2013 at 7:25 pm

High bounce is super common in directory style sites and also in SEO’d sites. It sounds like you’re aware of that.

You do mostly display advertising yes?


Brian April 22, 2013 at 12:00 am

Not at all, we’re actually one of the top pizza websites/blogs in the world.

We’ve got pizza news, pizza quizzes, pizza games, pizza related top ten lists, pizza directories, pizza videos, pizza recipes, some pizzeria reviews and more.

You may like a quiz we have about where to find the best pizza in St. Louis. I’ll have to tweet you a link.

Sometimes I can’t figure out why the bounce rate is so high. If we were only a directory, I’d understand.

Thanks for the reply. And good seeing you on Twitter too.


Kim Castleberry April 22, 2013 at 1:25 am

So what is your source of income and what are your points of conversion of traffic?


Brian April 25, 2013 at 12:13 pm

No income yet, but I hope streams of income will come from pizza orders made through some special links to online ordering sites and from ads once I start selling some.

I really don’t know exactly how to go about all this. I need income quick. Also, some Amazon links will be added via product reviews, etc. I’m not a pro at monetizing anything at this moment, but hope to get that done soon.

Farrell John Conejos April 24, 2013 at 2:39 pm

Hey Kim,

It’s my first time reading about heat map and when I was deeply reading the content of your post, I was then eager to know how to utilize this heat map to also know which part of my site are being clicked more and which part should I improved to be click. I will definitely install the plug-in that you suggested as well as visit the sites that offers or highlights heat map. Thanks for this informative post kim.


richa April 25, 2013 at 6:46 am

This is a fab tool, Kim and thanks for sharing this insightful information about it. I have never heard of heat maps, until I came through your post, but they surely can help one know what is the hottest property of a site.


marquita herald April 25, 2013 at 10:26 am

Really interesting Kim. I’ve heard of heatmaps but never really understood how they work – especially helpful to see the example. I have PrettyLink Pro on my blog and out of curiosity a couple of months ago I created links through this plugin for the images in my sidebar to see what was happening. I was stunned how many people were clicking on those images – didn’t even matter whether there was a call to action! Even the couple of Adsense ad experiments I threw way down at the very bottom are getting regular clicks … what an eye opener! This exercise has really caused me to have a greater appreciation for that piece of real estate, so I’m now working on a plan to make the most of it. Thanks :-)
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Willena Flewelling April 28, 2013 at 3:24 am

This is pretty interesting. I’d never heart of heatmaps before, and it sounds like a good idea. Thanks for explaining it so simply and clearly.



Rishabh Misra April 29, 2013 at 5:26 am

Hello Kim

Great Post well i am not much know heat map but after read this Article i clear the whole concept very candid explanation about this tool. Some time visitors came your site and which place you want to they click but they gone to another direction so this part we have not know but this heat map we check it and improve our strategy.
Thank You KIM share me this post.
Thank you
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Dat Vi May 10, 2013 at 6:56 am

I never heard of heatmaps before, thank you for sharing this insightful information.


Silas O'Malley May 23, 2013 at 7:54 pm

I’ve been using WordPress for a while now and was introduced to the clicky analytic when i started but didn’t know about the heatmaps. I know that the results are instant and can be seen in the form of text and not colors though.
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Daniel July 2, 2013 at 5:36 am

Hotspots User Tracker is a free WordPress plugin which displays heat maps for mouse clicks or touch screen taps and also caters for responsive design. It\’s worth checking out: http://wordpress.org/plugins/hotspots/


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