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Click Maps: Taking heatmap web analytics to the next level

Whoever said a picture's worth a thousand words was clearly living in a time before click maps.

Whether you want to know which parts of your website users are engaging with or which on-page elements they're ignoring or overlooking, click maps offer invaluable UX insights. 

This article explores how UX and CX teams can use click maps to identify technical issues, make data-driven decisions, and enhance customer experiences.

Key takeaways:

  • Click maps use color to show exactly where users are clicking on a page (and where they aren’t). 

  • Combining click maps with other types of heatmaps can give you a more complete UX picture.

  • Click maps can help teams identify technical issues and improve customer experiences through better-informed, data-driven decisions.

What is a click map?

A click map is a type of heatmap that depicts where users are clicking on a website or tapping on a  mobile app. Click maps use a color scale to show which page elements are engaging the most users, and just as importantly—which ones aren’t. 

Click maps 1

Image source

They can show areas where users are struggling, like clicking on a CTA or page link and not getting a response.

Instead of simply guessing how visitors interact with a web page's different elements, click maps can show you. A color-coded overlay shows what parts of the page readers are actively engaging with.

UX teams analyze these areas of high and low click activity to find and fix dead links and bugs and optimize on-page elements.

On mobile devices like a phone or tablet, click maps are called touch maps. Different names, but they show the same thing: where users tap, pinch or zoom, revealing where they interact with images, buttons, text or other page elements.

How does a click map work?

A click map uses color to show areas of high and low click activity on a website or app. Warm colors, like oranges and reds, show areas with high click activity. Areas with fewer clicks appear in cool colors, like greens and blues. No color means no clicks.

Below are some common heatmaps that can be used together with click maps:

  • Attention heatmap: These heatmaps show how much time a user is spending on a page or app screen. They show you which part of an ad, image, or website is getting the most attention from users. They analyze interaction data (including clicks and mouse movements) to display an aggregated view of user activity.

  • Scroll map: These visually represent how far users scroll down a web page or mobile screen, indicating the most and least viewed parts. A scroll map can help you determine the length of your webpage and how much content to keep “above the fold.”

  • Hover maps: Also referred to as mouse or move maps, these show where users place their mouse or cursor on a page, even if they don’t click. This can show you how much time users spend reading or scanning a page or app screen before they engage with it.

  • AI-generated heatmaps: Useful for new web pages, AI heatmaps predict how users will likely react to elements on a future page. Based on historical data from millions of real web pages, it helps UX teams make informed decisions to validate page design.

Click maps, along with other types of heatmaps, provide a visual representation of user engagement. They all provide information about how users, collectively, interact with elements of your page. They can also tell you whether users are able to do what you expect, and what you want them to do.

For example, if a charity’s “Donate” button isn’t attracting clicks (and donations), something’s gone wrong. The UX designer may need to redesign the button to make it more obvious or adjust its placement on the page.

Of course, if visitors aren’t being attracted to the site, it’s likely a marketing issue rather than a page design issue. Click maps and other heat maps can tell you a lot about activity on a page.

Click maps vs. heatmaps

Click maps contain considerable heatmap data, but they provide much more information than a heatmap alone. Click maps offer richer data analytics and insights on UX performance and actions that measure effectiveness.

You can pinpoint conversions and highlight underperforming areas for improvement, along with seeing granular data breakdowns.

Here are some limitations of heatmaps and where they fall short:

Less precision

Heatmap analytics don’t offer an exact snapshot of user activity. Dynamic heatmap mouse tracking is modeled from the traditional usability testing method of eye tracking. They typically show just colors, not data, so you won’t get a detailed data analysis.

Less accuracy

Heatmaps rely on x and y pixel coordinates. This means if the size of a web page changes and the buttons move, the colors won’t be accurately mapped to where users really clicked. This is why many heatmaps show lines of color where users are clicking as the page stretches in width. Heatmap analytics can skew the reality of the visitor experience since they may or may not be looking at page elements they hover over.

Less flexible

Modern websites are dynamic, with different content displayed based on user behavior, such as accordion menus that expand to show more detail and contract to show less. Heatmaps rely on manually configured page states to account for these changes, but a complex page can have thousands of possible layouts, making it difficult to accommodate using a few page states. This means there can be dozens of analytics that aren’t picked up and consequently limit the possibilities for website or app improvement.

Less mobile-friendly

Mobile device and app users don’t use a mouse to hover over text, so they navigate content differently. They tap, pinch and zoom to navigate around an app. Legacy heatmap software doesn’t have the functionality because there’s no way to track their interactions, so the heatmap UX cannot guarantee accuracy.

In the first quarter of 2024, Statista says U.S. smartphone users accounted for about two-thirds of online retail orders. According to Semrush, mobile visits have consistently outpaced desktop visits for the past five years. In 2023 mobile users had 313% more visits than desktop users.

Although these numbers alone don’t tell the entire story, they do indicate that it’s important for the analytics tools you use for click maps— and any other element of digital experience analytics—to support mobile devices.

What are the key metrics and data points captured by click maps?

Below are some of the important click map analytics that can be uncovered and provide advanced insights.

Computer screen demonstrating rage click maps at work

Conversion clicks

This is the kind of click that every digital business wants. A conversion click is the result of a successful CTA These types of clicks can help teams validate CTA button size, placement, color, copy and other design elements.

Rage clicks 

These occur when a user repeatedly clicks on a non-clickable page element. As the name implies, rage clicks are a strong indicator of frustration. They often cluster around “broken” page elements that should be interactive and static elements users (mistakenly) think are clickable.

Error clicks

These types of clicks are directly related to JavaScript errors. That means the intended click was to an interactive element, but it was broken, indicating that a technical fix is needed to improve the UX on the page or app.

Dead clicks

These types of clicks show when users attempt to interact with a page element but nothing happens. They can reveal when a page element is broken, taking too long or causing a poor UX.

Analyzing and interpreting click maps

Once you have a rich set of data from click maps, it’s a digital gold mine to analyze and answer questions about what’s happening behind the clicks and how your pages perform and convert (or not).

These include:

  • Are CTAs clearly visible and in the right place?

  • Are page copy blocks resonating and the right length?

  • Are the colors distracting or adding to provide clarity?

  • Are the navigation menus and links working correctly?

  • Are there page elements that distract or annoy the user?

  • Is there a typical click path and user flow?

  • What common technical errors and glitches are users mistakenly clicking?

  • How long is the page holding their attention?

  • Should an area that a user is engaging with be turned interactive?

These questions, along with unique analysis for your own business, can create a variety of actionable insights you can prioritize.

What are the benefits of using click maps?

Click maps can tell you what is and isn’t working on your pages.

One of the best things about mobile click maps and heatmaps is their accessibility for non-technical users. Having a visual makes it easier to understand and explain what’s going on, even if you don’t have a technical background. Because a click map is an overlay on the actual page of all user click or tap activity, it is easy to see the level of activity at each of the clickable elements of the page.

Glassbox interaction maps showing how user click data can be interpreted

Once analyzed, these insights can help:

Pinpoint high-engagement elements

Click maps are the quickest and easiest way to highlight the elements of a web page that attract the most user interaction. This includes pictures, buttons, or links.

With this information, design and marketing teams can understand which parts of their pages draw attention and potentially drive conversions. They can also pinpoint high numbers of clicks where you don't want them -- for example, rage clicks on links that don't work.

Identify underperforming areas

On the opposite end of the spectrum, click maps also identify the areas of a page that are underperforming. A map showing a lack of activity over certain elements can signal that the content may not resonate with users.

They may also highlight that certain links or buttons aren't obvious to users, reducing the number of potential conversions.

For example, a user’s device type can seriously impact their digital experience. That new interactive CTA might look good on a desktop, but a click map could reveal it’s getting zero clicks from mobile users. After looking into the issue further, your UX team might realize that mobile users can’t see the bottom half of the page.

Click maps alone won’t tell you the device type or other information about your users. Your analytics platform needs to be able to capture that information. If you know that, you can segment the information you see in your click maps.

To see more conversions, tweaking and redesigning a CTA button might be all you need.

With click maps, you can make data-driven, targeted design and formatting decisions to improve user experiences and boost engagement.

Uncover technical issues

A practical application of click maps is their ability to uncover potential technical problems on a webpage. If a click map shows repeatedly clicking on a non-responsive element, this may indicate broken links or other technical issues. Addressing these problems reduces friction for users and can make their overall site experience more pleasant.

Users won’t stay long on a website that’s causing them frustration. According to Forbes, after a bad experience, 88% of online users will leave a site. And they won’t return. This leads to an instant loss of revenue and may also send the customer to a competitor permanently.

Perform data-driven analysis

Click maps provide a data-driven and visual basis for making important UX decisions. It also goes beyond just the page you analyze; you can use the insights you gain to improve other web pages and apps within the ecosystem.

Click maps give you a snapshot of activity on a page, but won’t show you information about individual clicks, or steps taken on the way to conversion. Your analytics platform should help supplement data from click maps and heat maps with deeper analysis of your customer journeys.

Understand user preferences

Analyze click patterns to help you enhance conversion rates and improve the user experience overall.

What elements of the page do you want users to click on, and does the click map confirm that’s happening to the degree you expect? What elements on the page are being ignored? And which elements are

Information gained from click maps can help to keep users engaged with high-performing elements and remove what isn't working.

Keeping content engaging and providing an excellent user experience will keep people on the page longer, exploring further, and hopefully converting to become some of your best customers.

Practical applications for click maps

Click maps are your way to peek behind the curtain and see what users are seeing. So, how do you put them to use?

Attention heatmap overlay shown on a webpage

Here are a few practical applications.

A/B testing

Having solid data analysis to back up hunches, A/B testing lets you try out changes like color, placement, or other variants for an audience segment to see how they affect user behavior and if they increase clicks or conversions.

Usability testing

Using actionable insights from click maps, you can make improvements to the website or app and test with real users to see if the conversions are easier and more intuitive or not making a difference.

Conversion rate optimization (CRO)

Click maps act as a powerful CRO shortcut to learn about CTA placement, copy or other page variables that work to convert potential customers into buyers. For instance, if users are rage-clicking on a product page image, linking to its product page makes sense.

Website/UX redesigns or refreshes

Click maps can inform or even spur upcoming site and mobile app redesigns. They reveal critical data insights on the most effective ways to retool product pages, checkout processes, form funnels and other optimizations.

Content marketing

Click maps can support your content marketing decisions. For example, if visitors frequently click to a specific product page, you may want to add more blog posts, eBooks or other deliverables to the content marketing funnel to provide additional conversion opportunities.

Best practices for click map analysis

Click maps offer a range of benefits to technical, marketing and other teams with digital experience responsibilities—all with the goal of creating a better customer journey. It’s one of the most critical dimensions of customer engagement than with other heatmaps alone, delivering unmatched business insights.

Click maps are also part of the growing need for the bigger digital analytics picture: digital experience intelligence. Having a 360 degree view of the customer journey is a must for any business with an online presence. It’s no longer just about what the customer behavior is, but the why behind it.

Click map software is often integrated with session replay so you can see the exact actions users take on your website or app. And, when integrated with interaction maps, the next generation in heatmap tools, you can see a comprehensive view of all of the data.

🔥Hot tip: A digital experience intelligence (DXI) platform, like Glassbox, can show you why customers behave the way they do on your website or app.

Below are some best practices for using click maps in digital experience intelligence:

Select the right tool

There are many heatmap and click map tools on the market, but not all are created equal. Evaluate your DX requirements and select a solution that is best for your business needs.

Select a tool that can do more than just heat maps and click maps—they only give you aggregate data, and only for a single page at a time. Choose tools that let you see what individuals are experiencing, and why.

For example, replay actual sessions and groups of sessions. Find out what actually happened just before everyone who chose a certain delivery option dropped out at checkout Remember to consider your mobile users, too.

Stay focused on the bigger picture

Sometimes, click map data visualization moves to actionable insights and changes too soon. Let the data do the talking—but for a long enough time and with a large enough sample size to be statistically significant before you make any improvements.

Integrate with complementary tools

A digital experience intelligence platform can provide the foundation for click map data to be combined with session replay, voice of the customer (VoC) surveys and other powerful data analytics tools. You can uncover new correlations, confirm insights and make additional enhancements

Combine with user testing

To piece together the whole picture and conduct a more layered analysis, integrate click maps with other types of heatmaps, including scroll maps, attention maps, and other types of analysis.

User testing, either with your own research group, or a user testing firm can give a much more detailed and granular view of the user journey.

The purpose of user testing is to conduct real-life analyses using actual humans and study their behaviors in real time. Even if you’re a start-up, research has shown that 3-5 testers will find 80% of usability problems. The same source suggests that the testers be representative of the defined target audience and that they be brought in one or two at a time.

Rather than all at once, just a few testers staggered over intervals of time, can allow finding and fixing usability issues iteratively. Of course, every situation is different—if your target user base is varied, that may require more testers.

What’s next?

Finding out how your real customers behave on your website using click maps can inform you about what they’re doing and how they feel about it.

Your visitors are individuals (and perhaps other businesses) experiencing much more than you can see on just a click map. They’re a valuable but small piece of understanding the journey your visitors take—like a favorite page in an entire novel.

Using click maps or any similar technique will tell you a lot about aggregate user behaviors on a page. Of course, they can’t tell you what individuals are doing, or why. And they don’t tell you how those visitors got to the page. But, for example, you can use session replay and other analytics techniques to dig deeper. .

For a better understanding of individual and aggregate user behavior, use click maps alongside other analytics techniques to build strong insight into the entire journey your digital users are taking.


Q: What is a click map?

A: A click map is a type of heatmap that visually represents areas of activity and engagement on a website or mobile app. It shows what visitors are doing on your web pages and which areas they ignore, along with granular data on each variable. On mobile devices, click maps indicate where users tap and zoom.

Q: How do click maps work?

A: Click maps record interactions, such as activity and engagement, on a website or app and turn them into a graphical, colorful representation of the data, overlaid on the page itself. Typically, warmer colors like orange and red mean a lot of activity, whereas cooler colors show less. No color means no engagement.

Q: What’s the difference between a click map and a heatmap?

A: Though click maps contain a lot of heatmap data, they provide much more information than a heatmap alone. Click maps offer more and richer insights and granular data. Scroll, mouse and other heatmaps alone can’t pinpoint data as well and don’t offer as much UX flexibility.

Q: What are the benefits of a click map?

A: Click maps provide real-time, data-driven insights about how the UX is performing on your website or mobile app. They can help teams:

  • identify on-page elements with the most and least engagement

  • find and fix bugs, dead links, and other UX issues

  • present UX data visually for non-technical users

  • understand how different browsers and device types can impact UX

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