Mobile apps account for 90% of our phone usage today. Instagram to scroll. Amazon to shop. Uber to travel. You name it, mobile apps are what glue us to the screens we carry around with us. But with over 4.7m apps available on the App store alone, it’s a serious task to stand out.
Enter mobile app heatmaps: the best way to ensure you’re offering a top-notch mobile UX. They monitor and gather data about every users’ touch, including swiping, scrolling, zooming, or tapping. Mobile app heatmaps then represent those actions as different colors. Warmer tones show areas visitors gravitate towards and features they interact with. Colder colors show things users scroll past, ignore, or miss.
If you want to learn more about mobile app heatmaps, you’re in the right place.
How do mobile app heatmaps work?
First, mobile app heatmaps are very different from regular, website heatmaps. Website heatmaps are used to track our interactions with desktop–mouse clicks, movement, and scrolling. They rely on HTML code, which is what results in websites looking the same on desktop and mobile.
Mobile app heatmaps are more complicated. Mobile heatmaps capture every micro-interaction we have with any app on our phone, including gestures, swipes, and pinches. Different development platforms and operating systems means user interfaces and experiences are likely to change across different devices and individuals.
With mobile app heatmaps, you can gather the following data:
Gestures - mobile app heatmaps can track users’ gestures to give you a better idea on how folks are interacting with and using your app. With this data, you can pinpoint friction points and problem areas.
Active users - mobile app heatmaps give you a general idea of how many users log into your app on a daily or monthly basis.
Session interval - this is the time between two successive app sessions. This measurement helps you understand user engagement. Shorter times between sessions can equal higher engagement scores while longer gaps show lower interest levels.
Session replay - some mobile app heatmaps offer session replay, which allows you to watch exactly what a user does on your app. This helps you understand where folks drop off and why.
Conversion and churn - with mobile app heatmaps, you can see areas of higher engagement and lower engagement. With this data, you can influence your conversion and churn rates by making relevant changes or updates.
Types of mobile app heatmaps
Website heatmaps generally come in three distinct types: click maps, scroll maps, and attention maps. However, because our behavior on our mobile devices is much more intricate, there tend to be more types of mobile app heatmaps on the market. Here are some:
1. Rage tap mobile heatmaps
We’ve all been there when part of an app isn’t responding when it should be. And instead of waiting, we impatiently tap on the screen repeatedly until something happens. These are called rage taps.
Rage tap heatmaps track these rapid-fire taps through color representation. This helps you see where frustration levels have risen and people are repeatedly hitting the same spot on the screen. You can then draw conclusions about why users quit the app.
2. Unresponsive gesture mobile heatmaps
This type of mobile heatmap tracks elements of your app that folks tap on, but which have no interactive elements. This enables you to see what parts of your app are attracting attention when they shouldn’t be. You can then work on a plan to redirect attention elsewhere.
3. First touch and last touch mobile heatmaps
With first-touch heatmaps, you can see where users intuitively tap on when they first see a screen. This helps you understand what parts of your app instinctively draw attention.
Similarly, last touch mobile heatmaps show you the parts of your app that people last interact with before they quit. This gives you insight into what prompts your users to leave.
4. Specific mobile device heatmaps
Is there anything more intense than the battle between iOS and Android?
When you release an app, it’s important to understand how it will perform on different devices. Specific mobile device heatmaps enable you to see how folks interact with your app across their different devices whilst showing you the different bug fixes to focus on.
5. Landscape and portrait mobile heatmaps
How users orient their phones - whether they have their phones on landscape or portrait - will often affect how they experience your app. These types of mobile heatmaps enable you to understand how users who are in portrait mode use your app differently than users who are in landscape.
Benefits of mobile app heatmaps
We’ve covered the different types of mobile heatmaps out there and what they do for you. Now let’s cover the benefits of mobile heatmaps for businesses. Here are a just a few:
1. Increased app engagement
With the data from your mobile heatmaps, you can see which elements of your app are performing well with your users versus those areas that are sitting ignored. Improving different features to better capture attention means you’ll naturally increase users’ engagement with your app.
For example, if you’re seeing your CTA buttons like “play this video” or “sign-up for free” show up as cold on your mobile app heatmaps, it’s probably a good idea to bring the CTA’s up on your homepage or make them bigger and bolder.
2. Improve user acquisition
The better you make your user experience, the better the reviews and user engagement levels. The result? Improved user acquisition.
For example, imagine viewing heatmaps on your user login page. You see that a large portion attempt to sign-up with their email but for whatever reason, they quit before completing the process. You can also see that many people opt to sign-up with the Google button, as the process is more streamlined. With this knowledge, you move the Google button up to the top of the page to increase sign-ups and engagement with your app.
3. Boost in-app purchases and conversions
Purchases and conversion rates are the golden ticket of data metrics. They are the key contributors to revenue growth and overall business success. But driving these metrics requires strategic thinking, especially around making your app clear and easy to use while also catering to your users’ needs.
Not always so easy…
Mobile heatmaps can help you identify the challenges your users’ are facing by more accurately catering to your users' needs. For example, is your app lacking clear direction? Are you bombarding them with too many requests like signing-up too soon and it’s causing them to bolt?
By making them happier you also encourage them to use your app more.
4. Test different offers
With mobile app heatmaps, you can easily see which areas folks interact with against those they don’t. This helps you A/B test different elements of your app, such as bigger CTA buttons or different colors.
How different teams use mobile app heatmaps
Like all tools out there, different teams benefit in different ways. For mobile app heatmaps, it’s no different. Here’s a quick breakdown of how different teams in your business would use mobile app heatmaps.
Product and UX teams
Product and UX teams will use mobile app heatmaps to better understand user behavior and optimize the user experience. They’ll do this by:
Identifying popular and underutilized areas. As a starting point, product and UX teams will use mobile heatmaps to learn where is performing well versus where isn’t. This will then inform them on the strategy for app improvements.
Analyzing interaction patterns and user journeys. Mobile app heatmaps will enable product and UX teams to visualize how users interact with the app, and the patterns of behavior among larger cohorts of users.
Evaluating user engagement and conversion levels. Product and UX teams use mobile heatmaps to see how effective different elements are in driving user engagement and conversion..
Testing and validating changes with design teams. Mobile heatmaps are especially useful for A/B testing when it comes to design. Using the information from heatmaps, product teams can partner with design to come up with relevant visual changes.
Marketing teams use mobile app heatmaps to gain insights into user behavior, which can then inform their marketing strategies. For example::
Campaign performance evaluation. Marketing teams can use mobile app heatmaps to understand what particular touchpoints users interacted with the most. For example, did users click on the banners, promo pop-ups, or CTA buttons the most?
Optimizing ad placement. By analyzing heatmaps, marketers can identify areas with high user interaction and visibility, ensuring that ads are strategically placed in locations that receive significant attention.
Targeting user segments. By segmenting heatmap data based on user attributes like demographics, interests, or user journeys, marketing teams can identify patterns and tailor their messaging, offers, or ad targeting to specific user groups.
Understanding user preferences. Heatmaps can reveal user preferences and interests by highlighting which features or sections of the app receive the most engagement. Marketing teams can use this information to understand what attracts users and align their marketing efforts accordingly.
Your design team will want to use mobile app heatmaps to ensure they’re working effectively with the UX team to improve the app for users. Here’s a few ways designers will use mobile app heatmaps:
Identifying usability issues. Heatmaps help design teams uncover usability issues by highlighting areas where users struggle. This will show up as repeated attempts to interact with something on your app. By pinpointing these areas, design teams can make necessary design improvements to enhance usability and user satisfaction.
Improving information hierarchy and layout. By analyzing the areas with the highest user interactions, designers can identify which content or features draw the most attention.
Testing and validating design iterations. By comparing heatmaps before and after design changes, teams can evaluate the effectiveness of their improvements. This iterative approach ensures that design changes are aligned with user preferences and behaviors.
Optimizing calls-to-action (CTAs) and conversions. Heatmaps help design teams assess the visibility and engagement levels of key CTAs and conversion elements within your app. This data can guide the design of more persuasive CTAs, bolder colors, or different placements, which hopefully lead to increased conversion rates.
Mobile app heatmap features
There are lots of cool features of mobile app heatmaps. Here are a few:
Data overlays. On top of data visualization, mobile heatmaps often offer data overlays - an extra layer of information that offers more granular insights. This can come in handy for things like geographic heatmaps, where data points can be superimposed onto a map to provide spatial context.
Session Replay. Lots of heatmap tools use Session Replay. Session Replay will help you get a more in-depth visual on what users are doing through user recordings. With this, you make better decisions about your product or service based on re-watching what your user actually does.
User segmentation. Segmentation and filtering capabilities in heatmaps allow you to analyze user behavior based on different segments, such as user demographics, device type, location, or app version.
Conversion funnel analysis. Conversion funnel analysis helps you identify the stages where users drop off or abandon your app, allowing you to optimize those specific points for improved conversions. It also tracks user behavior through key conversion steps and identifies bottlenecks and areas of high drop-off rates.
Mobile App Heatmaps are a great tool for enhancing your app's performance and driving user engagement. Stay tuned here for updates as the field develops!