Heatmap mistakes

"This is too long to read" summary:
Are heatmaps worth using? How do they fit into an optimization strategy?

This is a terrific chat between Talia Wolf of GetUplift and the founder of HotJar, Dr. David Darmanin.

They discuss some of the mistakes people often make when using heatmaps as part of their site optimization work, and how we can make better use of heatmaps and the other tools that Hotjar offers.

Below is a really quick-and-dirty version for anyone who doesn’t want to listen to 40 minutes (You should if you have the time. These are two brilliant humans.)

Heatmaps and user recordings

Don’t do this

  • Use heatmaps in isolation instead of as one point in a larger dataset.
  • Make assumptions about what you see and why it is happening and then rush off to make changes.
  • Dive into data without a particular question to be answered or some idea of what specific thing you want to investigate.

Do this

  • Have a specific question or reason for looking at the heatmap or recording before you start.
    • This could come from anywhere. A common source is trends or anomalies you have found in your analytics.
  • Look at the heatmaps or recording that show the pages relevant to what you want to know.
  • Segment maps and recordings into groups and look for trends. A great segment is converters vs non-converters.
    • What do they do differently on the page?
    • What do they do differently before and after they do or don’t take the action you want them to take?
  • Use surveys and polls to find out why users are doing what they are doing.
  • Make changes needed to fix user concerns.
  • Record after changes and measure results.


Surveys and Polls

Don’t do this

  • Avoid surveys and polls because you think no one will answer them.
  • Use questions that are leading to the answer you already suspect.
  • Word questions in a way that cast a bad light on your company or lead them to go searching for competitors.
  • Not being intentional about where and when you ask particular questions.

Do this

  • Ask questions. Some people will answer, and those answers will be much better than no answers.
  • Leave questions open-ended. You may get surprising answers that you wouldn’t get with true-false/multiple choice type questions.
  • Give examples of the kind of answers you are looking for when using a large paragraph box for your answer blank.
  • Ask questions that are relevant to what the user is doing right now or just did.


If you want to learn more, this piece is one of many about data-driven growth for Shopify stores.


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