Your home page is the most valuable real estate on your website, but also the hardest page to choose content for and layout. A good home page will drive visitors into your site, while a poor home page will drive visitors away. But how can you tell exactly how visitors are using your home page?
The traditional (and still worthwhile) method is to use web statistics reports like SmarterStats or Google Analytics. These reports can show you how many times each page is viewed, or how many unique visitors hit the page. These reports are just charts, graphs and numbers, so some people, especially those who don’t work with this data every day, find the reports confusing and difficult to interpret. But these are the same people who are often charged with making decisions where to invest money into their websites. It’s hard to make decisions when you don’t understand the data you’re evaluating.
Enter the heat map.
Heat maps offer a visual approach to identifying how visitors actually interact with your web pages. By measuring the number of times visitors click on a page element (even non-clickable elements, such as photos), a heat map shows “hot” and “cold” spots on your page. The brighter the area, the more popular it is; the darker the area, the less popular it is. As a specific area of your site gets more clicks, its color on the heat map will migrate from dark to light. For example, when reviewing this page, we saw:
Heat map showing user clicks before layout changes
- The Mopar Rebates banner received virtually no clicks, yet consumed a key piece of home page real estate
- The Online Services sidebar generated a tiny amount of click action, but far less than the New Car and Used Car links at the bottom of the page (not shown here)
- The Shop Online Now link grabbed many clicks
- The promo material surrounding the Mopar Performance Parts store used oodles of home page space, but we questioned whether it was necessary since other evidence suggested that the link to the parts store would generate significant traffic without all of the promo text
The heat map data helped us realign the home page to help support Monicatti Chrysler’s goal of driving more visitors to their vehicle inventory pages, while maintaining the volume of visitors into the Mopar Performance Parts store. The only element we removed during the redesign was the Mopar Rebates banner. The result, shown below, has increased visitor traffic to the inventory pages by nearly 30%, and traffic to the Mopar Parts Store link has increased 12%, even though we moved its location.
After changes. Areas in yellowish/red indicate more clicks than blue areas
Now go improve your website.