During class lecture and through various guest speakers, the term heat mapping has come up when talking about user testing. From what I know, heat maps are used to plot the places on your page that are most often clicked. Color patterns will indicate the hot spots of a page vs. the less popular clicking areas. This is something that I find rather intriguing, which is why I chose this article. I feel like some people may not be fully aware of what heat maps are, so I wanted to take the chance to use this article to help me better explain it.
In this article, Jaan Sonberg provides 19 interesting facts about heat maps that others, as well as myself, may not have been aware of. Just to make everyone aware, there are two types of heat mapping, mouse tracking and eye tracking heat maps. As you can probably guess, mouse tracking is the easiest and most effective. Mouse tracking provides information from the actual visitors to your site, where as eye tracking is a selected group of people who may be brought into something they aren’t used to.
Some of the information I found most interesting may seem like common sense, but at the same time could be easily overlooked. One fact Sonberg talks about is keeping the important information at the top of the page. This reminds me of print materials, talking about keeping the most relevant info “above the fold”. Since users are on a webpage they are subject to scrolling, which means information lower down will easily get less views and activity.
Many studies that Sonberg interpreted gave him the results that information should be placed on the left side of the page. The left side of the page gains more visitor attention. I believe this is because the human brain is used to reading left to right. Automatically our eyes go to the left where we would begin reading, therefor making most sense to put the essential information in that area.
In the past I have learned that if you are using a picture of a human being and their eyes are one of the main focusses, it is important to direct those eyes in the direction of your information. This may seem like common sense but in critiques I have seen many people do it. It is our natural instinct to find a connection with another human, especially through sight. By making sure the eyes in the picture point to your information, you are basically pointing a blinking arrow.
The last bit of information I will discuss caught my eye because it was talked about in class. Sonberg states that it is important to combine A/B testing with click maps for increased effectiveness. A/B testing is a great option because it allows you to compare two different versions of the same page in order to find out which will be most effective. Click maps (heat maps) is one way we analyze the differences each model will present.
The rest of the information in Sonberg’s article is incredibly interesting. It is crucial to know some of these basic principles of heat mapping because it is an extremely effective way to shape your information architecture. To view the complete list of heat map facts, follow the link below!