Learn how to use RealEye.io - Online Research Platform with Webcam Eye-Tracking

Beata Lewandowska
Written by Beata Lewandowska

How to analyze heatmaps

Global heatmaps are visualizations revealing the focus of the visual attention of all participants at a time (aggregated results from all tests, but you can see a heatmap for only one participant). Colors represent the intensity of the participant's attention (not values) - red (hot) areas are clearly the most visible to your audience (see also: what is a heatmap, view map, and fog map). You have to remember that heatmaps are a reliable source of information if everyone in the test looked in a similar way. If not, it may lead to inaccurate insights. It’s worth remembering while analyzing results. So, it’s a rule of thumb to look at all individual heatmaps and filter all outliers (remove them). You can do it by clicking on your study results, choosing from the list on the left a participant whose results you don’t like, and clicking Ignore button. This will remove data collected from this participant for all items forever from your results (but he still counts as a participant used in the study).

After choosing a particular participant, you can also view the participant's data chart.

You can switch the view between fixations and gazes. Both views can be customized (to improve how the heatmap looks). For more info about heatmaps' customization, go to the article: heatmap customization (point, size, shadow).

NOTE: The color of the fixation does not indicate its duration. Each fixation has the same color, and the color intensifies when they overlay.

You can also make an AOI over a heatmap - simply click and drag an area to see the interest rate of the hottest spots.

To see more info about AOI metrics, read the article: what is AOI?

Each aggregated heatmap can be filtered by:

  • data quality (see: participant quality stats) for the item,
  • tags (you can assign them to any participant on the study dashboard, this filter works as an "and" function, so if you provide two tags, only the results for participants with both of the tags will be shown),
  • view number(s) - it's important only in Website Mockup studies, as only in this type of study, one image/video can be seen more than once during the eye-tracking test,
  • (only when the "finish on keypress" option was enabled) the pressed key, to see results for only those participants who pressed a particular key (i.e., in IAT/IRT studies):

  • gender (if you used the "ask my participants about the name, gender, and age" option while creating the study or added this parameter as a variable to a participation link),
  • age (if you used the "ask my participants about the name, gender, and age" option while creating the study or added this parameter as a variable to a participation link),
  • participant kind (RealEye or own),
  • device (desktop, smartphone, tablet),
  • eye-tracker setup (Webcam, Mouse tracker, OpenGaze).

After choosing your setup, click the "Apply Filter" button to see the results.

NOTE: You can set filters while being on the heatmap dashboard and click "download" from the menu above the heatmap - all CSV files downloaded this way will have all the filters applied.

There is one more thing worth noticing. Under a heatmap, there is an orange slider with values from 0 to value set as a maximum display time for any of the participants in seconds (or an actual display time if you analyze a heatmap for a particular participant).

The beginning point of the slider is set by default at 0.5s because of something called central fixation bias. Participants tend to look at the center of the image, especially in the first few fixations after the display of the image, so to mitigate its influence, the first 0,5 seconds should be cut out. It is also good to remember that if you want to test if the item will draw people's attention, don’t put it in the middle of the tested image because of the mentioned tendency. For example, when you want to know if the item put on a shop shelf is visible to people, don’t place it in the middle of the picture, but rather somewhere on the side of it. Then, if the product is still in a hot area of the heatmap, you can be sure it’s well visible.

You can also shorten the time interval (by grabbing and moving one of the ends of the orange line) and move it across the timeline of the test to see what was a hot point in a given moment.