As a web analyst, there is a lot of data which one can analyse and to be honest, obsess about. This blog post is about a visual version of data, called heat maps. I kind of really like heat maps but before we go into more details, definitions first:

A heat map is a graphical representation of data using colors to indicate a level of activity on a website, usually using darker colors to indicate low activity, and brighter colors to indicate high activity.  Measured activities include mouse movements, mouse clicks and scrolling behaviour. 

What is cool about a heat map is that it will give the option to see "on-page" behaviour. Whilst various web analytics metrics usually measure “next-page” behaviour, e.g. how many users went from Home to Products, a heat map can show us visually what happens ON the actual page. It is like the web analyst's version of stalking.

An example of a mouse-movement (left) and click-heatmap (right). Exciting, right?

An example of a mouse-movement (left) and click-heatmap (right). Exciting, right?

Fun fact, there is an approx. 80% correlation between eye and mouse movements. Hence analysing a mouse movement map, in conjunction with your standard metrics such as Time on Site or Bounce Rate (% of users only viewing one page and then leaving) will give great clarity on content consumption and effectiveness. 

Now there is another super gem, which most of the heat mapping tools offer. Visitor recordings - yes as the name says: you can watch videos of users browsing your site. Almost in real time (anonymous data of course).

They give wonderful clarity on user journeys and have the ability to uncover usability issues as well as user needs. Very often, there is an immediate next step on a page a user is looking for, and whilst data points and heat maps give you a % representation of that, a user recording offers even more. You don’t for instance only see where users are going next, but also how hesitant or determined they are in doing so. Is there a slight delay, are they rushing…? Invaluable when you are trying to understand user behaviour to a point that you can provide the best user journey for maximised website success.

There is one downfall to the recordings though: insights are not always right on the table and watching a lot of recordings does not only take time,… it also can be a bit painful. In the end it is like watching your mom on a computer - All you want to do is tell her “just flipping click on the button!!”

But the good news is, we at CommonSense have A LOT of patience and curiosity when it comes to data. Finding the stories within data is what keeps us excited. 

If you are interested in heat mapping and digging into what is happening on your site, get in touch with


AuthorAnne Scharlow