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Summer playlist: How to use heatmaps for data analytics

Summer playlist: How to use heatmaps for data analytics

Is it just us, or is it warm in here? 

With their dense, visually appealing display of data, heatmap grids are a firm favourite among data analysts and casual viewers alike. This blog touches on the pros and cons of this chart type, how different industries utilise them, and the Vizlib enhancements that take them to the next level. 

We’ve even included some summer listening to set the mood– check out the full playlist below!

Grab a fan and a glass of water, turn up the music, and read on for everything you need to know about these sizzling data visualizations.

What is a heatmap?

Heatmaps, also known as ‘heat maps’, are data visualizations that represent the magnitude of values within a dataset through colour. Colours can be differentiated by hue or intensity.

For example, in the heat map below, darker colours represent higher values and lighter colours represent lower values. 

Heat map in warm orange colors

Basic heatmap made in Qlik


We asked Vizlib veteran and resident heatmap enthusiast Piers Batchelor for his thoughts.

Heatmaps are a great ultra-visual way to analyse data. I can easily pick 2 dimensions and observe differences in colour superfast. It is a visualization anybody can understand as long as they can process the colours/contrast presented.

Heatmap pros

Heat maps are an intuitive, dense way to visualise your data. The colours used to show different values create an immediate visual impact. This means they’re great for communicating quite complex information at a glance. 

Heatmaps excel at revealing relationships within data. By visualizing the distribution and intensity of values, they can uncover patterns, identify trends over time or across variables, highlight correlations between different data points, and showcase variations or anomalies.

Heatmaps have a certain “wow” factor, with vibrant colours making for an attractive and impactful addition to any report or dashboard. 

Heatmap cons

Comparing data with a heatmap can be difficult, or straight-up misleading. The checker shadow illusion is a great example of this, where the same shade appears lighter or darker depending on the surrounding visual environment. Two identical values on the same chart can be read very differently, depending on the colours surrounding each value. 

Heatmaps can also be difficult to read when the data being compared is not in close proximity to one another, as it’s more difficult for the human eye to accurately perceive their relative hue or shade. 

Heatmaps are great at visualizing general trends and patterns, but it can be difficult to pinpoint exact figures. That’s because the colour gradient represents a range of values, rather than a specific value. If precise numerical values are important, a different type of visualization may be more appropriate.

What is best-practice when using heatmaps?

Heatmaps can be impossible to interpret without context. Include a relevant and sufficiently detailed title, axis labels, and legend. This will help the viewer understand what the data represents and how to interpret the heatmap.

… so take off all your confusing colours. Choosing the right palette and gradient is vital. 

Colours should relate to each other in an intuitive way; for example, a red-to-green spectrum, or deep to very light blue gradient. If the colours you use don’t have a clear relationship, the message you are trying to convey with your heatmap is lost. 

How are business leaders using heatmaps across industries? 

Heatmaps are hugely versatile and powerful data visualization tools. It’s not surprising they have been so widely adopted across sectors!

  • In the Financial Services, heatmaps can be used for showing the performance of stocks, risk assessment, asset distribution, and so on. 
  • Heatmaps can be used any number of ways in Life Sciences, be it representing the expression levels of genes across comparable samples or displaying average temperatures in an intuitive format.  
  • Retail can use heatmaps as a powerful tool for driving deeper insight into consumer behaviour– footfall, purchasing behaviour over time, and so on. They could also be used to better understand other aspects of the retail landscape such as comparing product environmental impact.
  • There’s no limit to how the Public Sector can use heatmaps to drive deeper insight across every department. Density of services by region? Job satisfaction in different roles? Academic results in different schools? Heatmaps are a beautiful and useful tool to make the data clear for everybody, including those with no Business Intelligence (B.I.) background. 
  • In Manufacturing, heatmaps can enable real-time monitoring of  production bay performance, exploring global market trends, as well as other analysis that informs data-driven decision making. 
  • Heatmaps can be used in Healthcare in any number of ways; better understanding admission rates, measuring employee feedback, displaying mortality rates in a population, and so much more.  

Vizlib Heatmap: The value-added visualisation for Qlik Sense

Heatmaps are vibrant data visualisations. They are most useful when you enhance them with powerful customisation and interactive functionalities. That’s why Vizlib Heatmaps are the perfect option to Spice Up Your Life, and your dashboard. 

Interactive, powerful Vizlib Heatmap in action

Interactive, powerful Vizlib Heatmap



Do you have particular brand colours or preferred fonts? Would you like to add labels to a certain place, or change the look of the legend? One feature that sets Vizlib Heatmaps apart is the ability to deeply customise every aspect of your heatmap’s appearance.

This flexibility allows you to create charts that meet your preferences and branding requirements, ready to slot seamlessly into your powerful Vizlib-infused dashboard. Now that’s Cool (For The Summer)!


Vizlib empowers you to interact directly with your heatmaps, so it’s easy to delve into the underlying data and gain valuable insights. 

Tooltips add valuable context. You can also apply filters, adjust parameters, and dynamically change the visualization settings on the fly. As a result, it’s tailor heatmaps to your specific needs and extracting relevant information effortlessly. 

Interactive Vizlib Heatmap in action

Vizlib Heatmaps add undeniable visual flair and powerful interactivity


Vizlib Heatmaps, as with all Vizlib solutions, is perfect for everyone from tech-shy people with no B.I. background to highly skilled data analytics experts. 

With a user-friendly interface and intuitive design, Vizlib Heatmaps make it easy for individuals at all skill levels to create their visualizations. Straightforward configuration options enable quick adjustments to the heatmap settings.

Power-up your dashboards with Vizlib today

No more FOMO, or Summertime Sadness; it’s About Damn Time you got more from your heatmaps, and more value from your Qlik Sense! 

Download a free trial or book a demo today to discover how unlocking the power of Vizlib takes your Business Intelligence to the next level. 



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