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Jun 2017

Hot or not: how heatmaps can transform the way you optimise your online learning

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Shaping the future of learning

We’ve recently talked about not needing to guess what learning your learners want, but there’s also no need to guess what they do once on your learning platform either. Enter heatmaps.

Maximise your learning portal using heatmaps

Heatmaps show you what’s hot, and what is not. Simply put, they visualise engagement using colours to show the popular areas and links on a page. With heatmaps, the deeper the red the more engagement, and the cooler the colours, the less engagement. It’s a simple concept, but really powerful - especially if data analysis isn’t your favourite. To really show it in action, let’s look at how your learning portal can benefit from heatmaps and the best tools to get you started.

A heatmap of where users have clicked on a hotjar heatmap

5 ways heatmaps can improve your learner experience

  1. Identify which areas of your platform draw attention

By visualising data with colours, heatmaps show which areas of your page users spend the most time on. Combined with a scrolling map, which shows what percentage of users scrolled to each part of your page, you can quickly identify the best areas of your platform for placing your key content and messages to ensure they aren’t missed.

  1. Identify areas that are being ignored

You’ve just launched a new piece of learning, but take up is surprisingly low? It may not be the content – perhaps you’ve inadvertently put it in a cold zone on the page. Identify the hot zones of your page using the above technique and then prioritise your content in these zones to see take up increase.

  1. See how much of your content your learners are seeing

With scroll maps you can see just how much of your content is above the fold on different devices – are 50% of your staff missing the key take away in a course? Is the required action just out of sight? If so there are probably amends to the copy or layout that can make to aid the journey.

Are most of your workforce using the same standard issue laptop? Make sure your learning is designed with this in mind. Not sure which screen resolutions are most popular for your learners? Get insights from Google Analytics’ screen resolution report (under Audience > Technology > Browser & OS) and view your content in this format.

  1. Discover where your learners are clicking

Heatmaps and visit recordings are great for discovering your site doesn’t work as your users expect. Click maps show where users have clicked the most and can identify some quick wins for improving the user journey. Do you have underlined text, titles or images that aren’t linked? Users may be clicking them expecting them to emulate a typical website experience. Is your navigation sending your learners in circles? Is an obvious call to action being missed? Some heatmap tools allow you to AB test your content and see the impact of those variations. Consider testing the colour of the button or changing the messaging and test which version is more engaging.

  1. Are your learners finding the mobile experience as easy as you’d hoped?

A good heatmapping tool will allow you to see the difference between desktop, tablet and mobile users. You spent a lot of resources ensuring your learning is mobile first, but are your learners feeling the benefit of this work? Heatmaps will show if the small screen size is meaning they miss your key sections and calls to action.

Bonus: 6. Get to the root of your Google Analytics mysteries

Though not a heatmap, session recordings are often a packaged deal with most heatmapping companies. It’s a handy view of user interaction that will give you invaluable insights.

Is Google Analytics reporting a slightly higher exit rate from an unexpected page but you can’t understand why? Using session recordings you can filter by a specific URL and watch real recordings of users interacting with the page. Perhaps the captcha on your login page is frustratingly difficult to use, or maybe certain content loads incorrectly on certain browsers. It’s hard to get these insights from just numbers but this information is worth its weight in gold.

Hot tools to help you get started

If you’re feeling inspired you can get started quickly. There are a number of tools that offer heatmapping services, but the below are some of the best. They all offer slightly different reports, and most offer a free trial or freemium account so be sure to try before you commit.

  • Hotjar
    One of my favourite tools at the moment is Hotjar. Not only is it super quick to set up, especially if you have Google Tag Manager, but it also has a free account level, removing the deadline panic of a short trial. 

    It also has the benefit of offering video recordings and visitor feedback pop ups, allowing you to get unfiltered insights direct from your learners. Warning: watching recordings can be addictive and make you want to cancel your 3 o’clock.
  • Lucky Orange
    It’s worth checking them out even if it is to play around with the interactive banner on their heatmaps page. It’s also cost effective, offering similar level of functionality to Hotjar but more data allowances, starting from just $10 a month.
  • TruConversion
    TruConversion has some really interesting functionality if you want to take your heatmaps to the next level. This tool allows you to see how long it takes for users to first click, as well as filtering your heatmaps by parameters such as location, device and campaign.
  • Google Analytics
    Want to get started right now? It can be a bit buggy but if you already have Google Analytics installed on your learning platform (and if not, why not?), download the Page Analytics browser extension. With this functionality you can see how different screen resolutions see your site, as well as the percentage of clicks each link gets – but bear in mind that unlike the above tools, GA groups the clicks for all links going to the same page, rather than showing which individual link to that page was clicked on most.

To see how we can incorporate heatmaps and more evaluation tools into your learning platform get in touch.



Shaping the future of learning

Kineo helps the world’s leading businesses improve performance through learning and technology. We’re proud of our reputation for being flexible and innovative, and of our award-winning work with clients across the world.

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