Eye Tracking Heat Maps vs. Mouse Click Heat Maps

In business, actionable information is king.

Accordingly, eye tracking heat maps, a key technique for optimizing website usability, should be considered royalty. They’re designed to point out the hotspots customers are drawn to once they land on your site, and they offer valuable insights that go beyond already available analytical data.

Eye tracking makes it simple for your business to understand more about your customers’ behavior on a deeper level than just numerical data by offering a visual representation of the way they interact with your website.

The result is better insights from your user testing and a more precise understanding of how your market is viewing your pages.


Not All Insights Are Created Equal

Mouse click heat maps without any eye tracking have also been used to try to understand user interaction – but this method lacks the precision and depth of eye tracking, which means your business may miss out on important data.

Modern eye tracking solutions are able to track both mouse clicks and eye movement, ensuring no data is lost. But what’s the real difference between the two methods, and what additional insights can your company gain from looking at eye fixation heat maps?


Mouse Click Heat Maps Explained

A mouse click heat map makes it possible to analyze the clicking behavior of visitors as they navigate through your site and, at a glance, provides your business with the ability to identify popular links and areas of a page – whether it’s text, images, links or dead space that your leads are mistaking for areas they can interact. Visitors are usually unaware they’re being tested, which results in more “natural” user behavior.

Typically, mouse click tests operate remotely, which means an increase in the number of variables – different participants, browsers, operating systems and monitor sizes.

This helps your business to establish spots where the conversion funnel – the route a customer takes from finding your site, navigating their way through your content and ultimately converting into a sale – may become jammed. By using a mouse click heat map, you can quickly gauge what advertisements are earning users’ clicks as well as which links and call-to-action buttons are being given the cold shoulder.

That said, a click is not the only measure of attention – nor is it the only factor along the conversion path. Without being able to track a user’s eye movement, you cannot fully form a case for WHY a particular link or ad placement is failing, or which other areas are stealing away user attention.

It’s a more two-dimensional approach that leaves some serious questions left unanswered.


The Advantages of Eye Tracking Heat Maps

The main advantage of eye tracking is its accuracy. You can use the cutting-edge eye tracking technology to track eye movement across all elements of your page – not just links. When you can understand where a user’s gaze is drawn to, you can gather deeper insights into how to improve poor or distracting design areas.

With eye tracking software, you can literally track anything that can be viewed – even beyond your website or web assets. This would include:

  • Full websites
  • Home page layouts
  • Landing pages
  • Conversion funnels
  • Display banner ads
  • Email marketing designs
  • Restaurant menus
  • Print advertisements

You’re able to see not only what users looked at, but how long they lingered. This is displayed by using different color levels depending on the intensity of the gaze, with blue and uncolored areas signifying that the eye did not fixate for very long – or at all – in those areas.

Conversely, areas colored red on an eye fixation heat map show positions where the gaze is more intense, with a larger amount of fixation in this area.

A mouse click only tells you about an end action, but eye tracking can tell the story of the customer journey before that interaction took place. It’s not longer the case of link vs. link, but a more holistic understanding of how page elements interact, how visuals do (or do not) compliment the text they surround and other important decision questions.

Measure Up the Competition

Another benefit of eye tracking over mouse click tracking is that any piece of online digital media can be tracked – whether you own it or not. Eye tracking studies can be performed on competitor websites for better analysis of what’s working for them. You can analyze competitor ads and websites, pulling insights that can be used to shape or refine your own strategy.

Eye tracking heat maps can also be made of search result pages in Google, highlighting how visible your listing actually is against all of the other listings, advertisements, videos and photos that appear.


Test Before It‘s Live

Mouse click tracking requires that a site be completely built and functional before a test can be performed. To A/B test, resources must be devoted to actually build the assets you want to test. Not so with eye tracking, where prototypes and images of potential designs can be put to the test immediately, before you absorb the cost of implementing. You can gain powerful insights before signing off on a new redesign project.


Better Information That’s Easy to Acquire

Where in the past eye tracking tests were expensive and difficult to perform, modern technology has made conducting this kind of testing affordable and easy to undertake. The software and testing procedures take all the guesswork out of the analysis, so you’ll know exactly what to change.

The bottom line: mouse click heat mapping doesn’t tell the whole story – and when it comes to conversions, it pays to see the whole picture.