A clickmap is a screenshot of a website, showing which elements the users click on. It is a tool for analyzing and improving the usability of a website. Clickmaps can be used to reconstruct how actual users behave when using a website, for example which links, pictures or menu items they click on, and which web content they are particularly interested in. This data can then be used to design the information architecture and the website layout in such a way that the goals of the website can be implemented. For example, call-to-action elements can be placed more prominently in the “Above the fold” area or transaction elements such as shopping baskets or buttons can be made more visible to the user.

General information

Clickmaps are one of many ways to analyze visitor behavior and draw conclusions from this data. With heatmaps and foldmaps, clickmaps form a graphical representation of visitor behavior. While clickmaps are related to mouse clicks, heatmaps focus on website areas users are most interested in, and foldmaps focus on visible Above the fold content or scrolling behavior. The difference is often that clickmaps represent actions of actual users, whereas heat and foldmaps display actions of fictitious users based on A/B tests and experiments.

This data shows how users use a website, how they use the navigation and which individual elements appear particularly attractive. Such elements, which are relevant for the purpose of the website, can be arranged and placed differently with the help of the data obtained. Although there is a direct dependency with the goal of the website, clickmaps can generally improve the user experience and at the same time ensure that aspects such as conversion, ROI or lead generation are included in the optimization. Clickmaps show at which points in the web concept problems exist and which potentials remain unused - even during a redesign. Some plug-ins and tools also offer segmentation so that individual clicks can be assigned to user groups or click paths, for example.

How Clickmaps Works

Providers of clickmaps usually offer several maps. The basis for this is always a screenshot of the website on which the respective data is entered in colour. On the clickmap, coloured dots are used to show where the users of a website have clicked. Depending on how many dots are displayed at certain points, you can see which elements of the page are clicked on most often. At the same time, the evaluation also shows which elements do not sufficiently animate the user to take action. Often this graphical representation is also realized with a page overlay: All data is collected as a template on the website and can be viewed directly.

The data is generated using code components that are initialized when the website is accessed. If a user loads the website in the browser, the clickmap is already started in the background. More precisely: An event or onclick handler is added to the body of the HTML document. If the user clicks on a link, the event handler is called. For each website element, the event handler assigns a unique object ID and writes it to a cookie for conventional links or sends it to the Clickmap software for outgoing links, buttons and forms. Websites currently viewed are identified by means of a URL parameter in order to be able to assign the click behavior of the current page and a precisely defined object. If several object IDs refer to the same targets, a numeric ID is also used for the target page, which roughly indicates the position of the link on the website and in the document object model.

For these reasons, clickmaps often have problems with dynamically generated content and changes in the HTML source code that could occur during a redesign. Links where a unique object ID is set for the event handler are a remedy here. This also makes the results of the analyses more precise and levels the differences between different browsers. For websites whose content often changes, clickmaps should be carefully implemented.

Objective of clickmaps

The goal of Clickmaps is to recognize and analyze visitor behavior. The website can thus be examined specifically for its strengths and weaknesses. As a rule, this can be used to derive a direct optimization potential and corresponding measures. Depending on the website goal, however, clickmaps should be integrated differently so that exactly those elements can be analyzed that are essential for achieving the website goal.

Prerequisites and Legal issues

In order to measure satisfactory results with a clickmap, there must be a sufficient number of visitors. The evaluation is also possible with low visitor numbers. However, it can then take a long time before meaningful data can be obtained. In addition, only static content can be meaningfully evaluated with clickmaps. If the contents change regularly, the evaluations are not meaningful - unless appropriate settings are made or tools are used.

For each clickmap, the data should only be recorded anonymously to ensure data protection. The data collected can also be transmitted via SSL transmission so that it is encrypted. If cookies are used, users must be informed so that they do not violate the applicable telemedia laws. Ultimately, clickmaps and other tracking services should be used to inform users transparently about the collection and processing of data.

Significance for web analysis

In online marketing, clickmaps are usually used to optimize the conversion rate of websites. Some examples for use in practice:

Operators of online shops must ensure that the most important conversion elements are immediately recognisable to the reader. These include, for example, the buttons "Add to shopping cart" or "Checkout". Email marketers analyse whether the user is sufficiently aware of the possibilities for list registration. Landing pages, navigation, and the entire structure of the website can be analyzed and improved with the help of clickmaps. In affiliate marketing, it is possible to analyze how advertising links and banners must be arranged in order to reach the most clicks. In newsletter marketing, clickmaps help to analyze which areas of the newsletter the reader has clicked on.

Clickmaps are used, for example, if a page has a lot of traffic but the conversion is very low in comparison. It firstly offers clues as to what could be the reason for the bad conversion. However, the results of clickmaps should never be viewed in isolation. Only in connection with the data from other tracking services or from an eye tracking tool can meaningful measures be derived from the information obtained. The correct interpretation of the results is essential.