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We may already be aware of the importance of user experience design in business success stories. It’s vital that the design is not only catchy but usable. To take things up a notch, we have heatmaps and session recordings, which help marketers get a peek into the user’s minds.

Each of them has its special features which help marketers understand where they have gone wrong or what can be developed a bit further. Since it’s all about converting the leads, we need to ensure they get the best possible experience from us. To optimize the user experience, we require the use of heatmaps and session recordings. 

Let’s dive into the details to see what the fun is all about.

Heatmap: Understanding data through colors

No, we are not talking about any successor to microwave ovens. Heatmap is an impactful method to understand what features of your website attract your visitor and what causes them to close the tab. This provides you with a full insight on which areas of your website need work and which do not.

The most interesting aspect of a heatmap is that it uses colors to highlight data. Numbers are cool, no doubt, but most of us find it tedious to scroll the innumerable amount of data. Heatmaps make it easy to catch everything in the blink of an eye.

When it comes to analyzing user research, heatmaps use colors from the range of red and blue to visualize the hot and cold segments of a website. The hot segments represent the popular elements while the cold segments stand for the unpopular ones.

So, why use heatmap now above all times?

Its usage is undoubtedly steadfast but in recent times, countless numbers of users have checked a myriad of sites making it difficult for marketers to catch up with what needs work. Heatmaps help organize the data. Other benefits include:

  1. Understanding where the users spend most of their time on the website.
  2. Revealing elements in a website that need prompt attention.
  3. Enabling to optimize content for a more dynamic outcome. That is the right content for the right audience especially when content marketing is more than crucial now.
  4. Providing the ins and outs to improve the site architecture and discard any features that are of no use.
  5. Understanding what is stopping the user’s purchase journey.
  6. Resolving issues across several devices.

Here is an example of heatmap on one of the most popular sites of this era – Netflix!

When it comes to providing the best user experience, businesses are required to run one test after another. One of the important features of Netflix’s earlier TV UI was its huge imagery yet the media service provider didn’t want to leave it at that. So, they decided to use a heatmap to see how their users interacted with it.

Netflix discovered that users had a fairly hard time moving their eyes back and forth from the right sidebar to the highlighted title on the left. What happened was after clicking a movie/series title on the left, a right sidebar appeared, which provided the complete details of that title.

As can be seen from the image above, the color red demonstrates that the users spent the most time on the left side of the site. While the color green shows otherwise and worse, it indicates the users’ discomfort.

To keep it convenient for the users, Netflix made slight yet impactful changes to its TV interface. They moved the necessary details of the title to the top left. As a result, there was a major drop in user’s shifting their eyes now and then.

Session recording: User behavior on the record

If it comes to record and replay your user’s journey on your website then session recording is the go-to tool. It allows businesses to capture and study the user’s behavior during the time they spent on their websites. Similar to heatmaps, the session recording tool helps marketers to understand what problems their users encountered and eventually, dampened their purchasing decision. It also helps in developing site usability, analyze conversion rates, and providing an amazing user experience.

Here’s an example by Plutio on how they used session recording to keep their desktop and mobile experience consistent. Their recording revealed a user wanted to close the mobile menu but instead tapped on the main logo. As a consequence, the page refreshed to the user’s dismay. Plutio immediately took the action of improving the design because the user’s unintentional action would eventually cause them to draw away.

So, what happens when heatmaps & session recordings come together?

The answer is a higher conversion rate.

Since the motives of both the tools are complementary, the way to understand the user’s psychology becomes much easier.

A case study by Hotjar on CCV Shop, an e-commerce service provider, shows how heatmap and session Recording were used to study user behavior. Since their product is Software as a Service (SaaS), their operations are fundamentally run online. This enabled them to get a closer look at what catches their user’s interests.

To begin with, the CCV shop used heatmap to assess their landing pages, where they generate leads. This gave them a full view of how far their users scrolled and how they reacted to the features of each page. Then session recording helped them analyze each user’s behavior on different browsers. At the same time, they also came across bugs that weren’t apparent earlier. After making the changes, CCV Shop was able to increase their conversion rate by 38%, from 1.3% to 1.8%, which was very near to their 2% conversion target.

Then again, it takes a whole level of enthusiasm to get into your user’s head. Well, not literally. Just close enough to understand what they take a fancy to. Gregor Doornbosch, the UX designer at CCV, says “I have a real passion for everything that goes into User Experience (UX) design. I want to know what users are thinking—the psychology behind their decisions—and why they’re clicking on some elements while ignoring others.”

As technology progresses each day, understanding the user’s behavior will get much easier. Today it’s heatmaps and session recording. Someday it will be something more advanced and far more impactful. Yet we need to continue doing user research and keep on providing a convenient experience.