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How to Create Heatmaps in Excel/Google Sheets [4 Short Steps]

4 Min Read

Analysts use heatmaps to analyze the magnitude of an event using visual cues. A data visualization technique, heatmaps are utilized to derive quick interpretations of the intensity of an event and do course corrections accordingly.

One of the examples of heatmaps can be the visual representation of COVID-19 cases being registered globally. The following map shows the geographic distribution of the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases reported per 100,000 people worldwide. Darker shades of orange denote the most affected countries, and the light yellow hues indicate the opposite.

There are quite a few efficient ways to generate a heatmap, such as using readily available free heatmap generators like VWO’s AI-powered heatmap generator or integrated analytical tools. Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets is another great option to explore. Let’s dive right in!

Creating a heatmap in Excel/Google Sheets

When using Excel or Google Sheets, you can either create a heatmap by manually coloring each cell depending on its value or act smartly and enter a formula/function to do all the taxing work for you. We’d suggest you use the latter method to create a heatmap. 

Let’s consider the dataset extracted from the above represented COVID-19 globally registered cases as an example to learn how to create a heatmap using the function—apply “Conditional Formatting.”

CountryCasesDeathsConfirmed Cases
US63966430985422943
India1238041410415
UK984761286869002
Brazil28320173621484
Philippines54533493142
Canada28364101018769
Netherlands28153313414539
Germany130450356956928
Australia6458631482
France1062061716749217
Italy1651552164754581
Pakistan65051244214
Spain1776331857975497
Russia2449019821713
Singapore3699102699
Indonesia51364693459
Israel125011306910
Malaysia5072832164

Image source: European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control

Step 1: Enter data

Enter the necessary data in a new sheet. We entered the data above.

dataset for creating heatmap in excel

Step 2: Select the data

Select the dataset for which you want to generate a heatmap. In this case, it would be B2 through D19.

selecting the data in excel for creating the heatmap

Step 3: Use conditional formatting

If you are using Excel, go to “Home,” click on “Conditional Formatting,” and select “Color Scales.” The color scale offers quite a few options for you to choose from to highlight the data.   

use conditional formatting in excel to create the heatmap

In our case, we’ve used the first option where cells with high values are colored in green and ones with low values in red.

If you are using Google Sheets, you will find “Conditional Formatting” under the “Format” option in the menu bar.

Create Heatmap Excel 1

Then select “Color Scale” and choose the relevant colors for the midpoint, minpoint, and maxpoint.

Create Heatmap Excel 2

Note: Use a color scheme that best matches your data interpretation needs. 

Step 4: Select the color scale

Once you select a color scale, you’ll see a heatmap as shown below:

select the color scale through conditional formating to create the heatmap

In this color scale, Google Sheets assign a green color to the cells with the highest values and red to the ones with the lowest values. Meanwhile, the remaining values are assigned colors based on the descending value order showing a gradient of different shades falling between green and red. And there you have it: your beautiful heatmap to analyze visitor experience and get more conversions.

While this was just one of the ways to generate a heatmap using Excel or Google Sheets, you can get as creative as you want to. It also gives you the leverage to drill down and create mapping views of specific data sets as well. However, if you’re planning to create heatmaps to study the performance of your website or particular pages, we’d recommend you to use more robust and integrated tools than Excel, such as VWO heatmaps. They not only help you see how visitors engage with your website but also highlight web elements that catch their attention or distract them. 

VWO’s free AI-powered heatmap generator allows you to predict how visitors interact with your web page. It enables you to gauge bottlenecks based on user experience for you to take required optimization measures. You can literally follow your visitors’ trails on your webpages and analyze granularly how they interact with each static or dynamic element. 

To know more about how you can leverage VWO heatmaps to visualize visitor behavior and draw valuable insights, sign up for a free demo session from one of VWO’s optimization experts or opt-in for a free trial to give it a spin yourself and assess whether it meets your unique requirements.

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Astha Khandelwal
Astha Khandelwal A marketing enthusiast who holds experience in creating informative content around the culture of experimentation and conversion rate optimization. She has a knack for learning and loves to explore new and innovative avenues of the industry. In the last couple of years, she has grown as a CRO enthusiast and aims to gain mastery in the field.
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