Learn / Blog / Article
10 ways to use Hotjar for user-centric website development
As a busy web developer, you have feature requests and bug reports coming in from multiple directions. So how do you get to the heart of issues quickly—and prioritize which ones you should solve next?
Last updated31 Jul 2023
Hotjar’s digital experience insights help you uncover both common website problems and less obvious issues users encounter but don’t report. And with our collaborative features, you can easily share your findings with colleagues via Slack, Jira, Zapier, and more.
Keep reading for a masterclass in how to streamline and speed up your team’s site development process with Hotjar—and make the most impactful changes.
See website issues through your users’ eyes
Hotjar Recordings shows you exactly what each user saw, so you can find and fix bugs in no time at all.
Prioritizing the right changes: a never-ending challenge for web developers
As a web developer, you play a vital role in continually improving your website for customers. Building websites iteratively lets you factor in customer feedback to develop features and functionality around user needs.
However, building in iterations also means making difficult decisions about which features and bug fixes to prioritize. When you have a never-ending list of things you could be working on, how do you decide which tasks are most important?
Product experience insights help you make better development decisions
Hotjar gives you actionable insights about website or product issues, so you can:
All this adds up to having more control over your to-do list—and creating a customer-centric culture in your team.
10 ways to use Hotjar for user-led website development
Below, we’ve laid out ten ways Hotjar can help you in the approximate order you’d follow when making development decisions.
1. Find out where users encounter issues
When something goes wrong on your website or app, users won’t always tell you about it. Hotjar’s user analysis tools help you find ‘hidden’ issues in two different ways.
Ask for user feedback
With the Hotjar Feedback tool, you can ask users directly how they experienced a specific page on your site via an unobtrusive widget (there it is, that red tag on the right of your screen! 👉).
Users can quickly rate their experience on a scale of 1–5. But even better, Feedback gives users the option to write a comment or highlight the part of your page where something went wrong.
💡 Pro tip: Hotjar also lets you track the average feedback across your site, so you can easily identify which pages get the lowest scores and investigate why.
Find signs of struggle
Hotjar notices signs of user frustration on your site by tracking important behaviors, including
Rage clicks, where users repeatedly click on an element or in an area (often indicating frustration)
U-turns, where users navigate to a page and then quickly return to their previous one (suggesting they’re lost or confused)
Negative feedback scores indicating that users are having poor experiences on certain parts of your site
With Hotjar, you can use this data to view related session recordings that might reveal a user encountering bugs or issues.
💭 Did you know?
Each recording has a frustration score indicating how many of these behaviors Hotjar noticed.
Frustration scores help you quickly find recordings that are likely to show how users struggle on your website
2. See where users drop off
Ideally, you want to provide the smoothest customer journey possible on your website. But high drop-off rates often suggest that users can’t complete their goals on a specific page—potentially indicating a bug or UX issue.
Hotjar Funnels gives you a handy visualization that pinpoints exactly where users drop off. Once you’re viewing your funnel, click the play icon to view the related recordings showing where (and potentially why) drop-offs occur.
💡 Pro tip: combine Funnels with Hotjar Heatmaps to understand user behavior on pages with the highest drop-offs. View Rage Click maps to see areas of the page causing frustration and investigate further.
An example of a Rage Click heatmap on Hotjar’s pricing page
3. Set up surveys to find the reasons behind drop-offs
Sometimes, the best way to find out what’s going wrong is to ask. With Hotjar, you can launch exit intent surveys that appear as users close the page or tab. Use this survey to find out why users leave and what you could do to make them stay.
Review your survey answers to see if users report issues with your website’s display or functionality. You can organize survey responses by page, country, browser device, and much more. Plus, with our bank of ready-made survey templates, you can create your first Hotjar survey in minutes.
Have you tried Hotjar AI? 🤖
Setting up a survey is easier than ever before with Hotjar AI for Surveys.
Simply tell our AI-powered survey generator your research goal, then sit back as it creates the perfect survey for you, summarizes your findings, and gives you a list of next steps.
4. Take a closer look at what’s happening on problematic pages
In the previous steps, you identified pages where users drop off or show signs of frustration. Now, use Hotjar to learn more about what’s happening in two ways.
Use Heatmaps to get an overview of common behaviors
Heatmaps show you an aggregated view of where users click or tap (click maps), scroll (scroll maps), or move their mouse (move maps). Use them to find out if users
Repeatedly click on a non-clickable item
Move their mouse to a navigation element, like a search bar or menu
Scroll to and from forms and drop-down menus
If users frequently do these actions before exiting, there’s a good chance they’re encountering errors.
💡 Pro tip: a new type of heatmap, Engagement Zones, combines click, scroll, and move data in a single view, so you can see areas of high and low engagement on your most important pages.
An example of an Engagement Zones map in Hotjar Heatmaps, where the darker tiles indicate areas of high engagement
View Recordings to see what users saw
Recordings are video-like reconstructions that let you replay an individual user’s journey. You’ll see everything they saw in real time—including malfunctioning site elements.
Hotjar reveals what numbers don’t. Funnels helped me identify where in the customer journey people drop off. Recorded user sessions let me understand what people see when they arrive on our website—what they click and what they don’t click. Heatmaps helped me identify where they spend most of their time and assess if they should be spending time there or not.
5. Get clarity on bug reports and support tickets
While some customers are awesome enough to let you know about issues they encounter, their reports aren’t always clear. A user may write a comment like, "After I clicked the button, nothing happened!"—leaving you wondering which of your buttons they clicked.
In these scenarios, you’ll frequently need to request more information about their devices and activity. This can be a time-consuming process, especially if you’re not talking to the user directly.
Replay the user’s journey to see what they saw
With Hotjar, you can quickly find the recording of a specific user’s journey and take a closer look at what happened. For busy developers, this has multiple advantages:
You don’t need to go back and forth asking the user for more information
You can see what the user did before the issue occurred, and what the issue itself looked like on their screen
If their issue turns out to be a bug, you can share the recording with your team to help with debugging
This makes the process of investigating bug reports faster—especially ones that involve rare or hard-to-replicate use cases of your product.
💡 Pro tip: there are two ways to find the user’s recording to get more context.
If you have the individual’s user ID number, leverage User Attributes in Hotjar to bring up a list of only their recordings
Use filters to find recordings that correspond with the user’s profile and activity—for example, by filtering for date, page, device, and location
Filters in Hotjar help you home in on the recordings most crucial to your website development
Apply multiple Hotjar filters to find the recordings you need, then save your favorite filters as an audience segment.
6. Uncover issues with forms and search bars
While forms and search bars are vital for many customer journeys, it’s not always obvious when they have an issue. If your form validation isn’t working, users will have problems filling in forms correctly—but they won’t know something is missing.
With Hotjar you can:
Use heatmaps to determine if users frequently click on search bars, forms, and form elements
View recordings from users who interacted with forms and search bars to see if they encountered any issues
Hotjar censors secure data (like credit card details), so you can identify problems while being fully compliant with privacy laws.
Hotjar and Audiense: restoring lost conversions
Audiense is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) company in the MarTech space that allows potential customers to trial its product through their website.
After noticing a sudden drop-off in conversions on a key sign-up page, Audiense’s product team used the Hotjar Recordings tool to observe individual users in action.
They quickly discovered the password validator feature on their sign-up form was broken. Within hours, developers fixed the problem, bringing conversions back to life.
Audiense regularly uses Hotjar to get more insights into its users' challenges and to confirm the impact of its development team's changes.
“Hotjar helps us empathize with our users. It reminds us that there are real human beings on the other end. It also confirms that our work as a product development team has an impact, and is making our customers' lives easier.”
Juan Fernandez, Head of Product at Audiense
7. Zero in on responsiveness and browser compatibility issues
Even when testing your website on different devices, you won’t always catch every issue. Hotjar Recordings can help you spot when users experience display issues on older browsers or specific devices.
Use Funnels to identify pages with high drop-off rates (as discussed in step one ⬆️)
From the Recordings dashboard, create a filter for journeys that exited from that page
Ensure you have ‘Device’ or ‘Browser’ selected in the Select columns menu, then click the top of the column to sort your recordings by device or browser
You now have a list of recordings from users who exited from a page with a high drop-off rate. Scan through the list to look for patterns—are you seeing lots of entries for a specific device?
Click to view recordings related to any older browsers or devices you haven’t tested on previously. If the page isn't displaying properly for the user, you’ll see it in their journey’s recording.
Visit your Recordings dashboard
Click on the ‘Error’ filter
💭 Did you know?
Trends also visualizes other user behaviors over time—like when users click your call-to-action button or unsubscribe. Use Events to track the behaviors you’re interested in, then plot a graph in Trends to see how they change with each website iteration.
9. Share findings with colleagues to prioritize fixes
After identifying bugs and issues, it’s time to bring your team in to work together on fixes. Hotjar gives you several handy ways to organize and share data.
Create highlights of your recordings
When you want to show important moments you found in recordings, create short video clips called highlights to share with your team. Label clips with a ‘🐞’ icon for your colleagues to see the exact moments users encountered a bug, without having to watch complete user journeys (they’ll love you for it).
Organize Hotjar data into categories for easy reference
When reviewing Hotjar data, save highlights into themed folders using Collections. You can then view the entire dataset with a click when analyzing data.
Share links to your Hotjar data
Easily generate clickable links to specific collections, highlights, recordings, and more—perfect for sharing data in Slack channels, emails, and Jira tickets.
💭 Did you know?
Hotjar integrates with loads of tools you already use for collaboration. For instance, use our Zapier integration to send negative feedback to a Miro board. Or integrate Hotjar with Jira to create Jira issues directly from Hotjar, with links to your recordings and console errors. Easy!
Get Hotjar data sent directly to your Slack channel
Set up our Slack integration to get relevant Hotjar data sent directly to Slack the second it comes in. For instance, tell Hotjar to send any negative feedback customers submit to a dedicated Slack channel so everyone who should see it does—and fixes happen faster.
Hotjar, Slack, and Hussle: understanding customer pains
Hussle is an online marketplace for gyms and spas. As part of its efforts to continually improve its website, Hussle uses Hotjar to gather insights into why customers leave.
When customers cancel their subscriptions, Hotjar enables Hussle to present an exit intent survey asking why they left.
Hussle also reviews recordings that include rage clicks, using the Hotjar-Slack integration to forward them to a dedicated Slack channel—the aptly named #peoplehavingabadtimeonhotjar.
“Without Hotjar, it would take me at least two weeks to find the issue—and that’s assuming I find it in the first place. With Hotjar, we found the issue last Wednesday, and we’ve already got a solution ready to publish in development on Friday.”
Luke Calton, Product Lead at Hussle
10. Recruit the right usability testing participants
When you’re getting ready to launch the next iteration of your site, getting feedback from real users is vital. But finding the right usability testing participants can be time-consuming and complex—unless you’re using Hotjar!
Hotjar Engage, our user interviews product, lets you tap into our network of 200,000+ participants from a range of demographics. Engage automatically screens participants and books in testing sessions around your schedule—all you have to do is show up.
With Engage, you can easily create highlight videos from the session and leave comments for colleagues indicating where you saw bugs and issues.
Understand the value of your development decisions
To serve your end-users well, you need to prioritize fixes and improvements based on what will have the greatest impact for them. But making those decisions can be challenging—especially if you don’t understand what users are truly experiencing.
With Hotjar, you can accelerate your prioritization and debugging processes by getting fast, actionable insights into what users see and do. And because Hotjar facilitates collaboration with colleagues, you can make impactful improvements faster—and give users the fantastic experiences they deserve.
Get the data you need to improve user experiences
View user journeys, gather user feedback, track behavior trends, and run user interviews—all from a single platform.
FAQs about Hotjar for site development
Solving common problems
How to evaluate the impact and reach of website bugs
Those pesky bugs. Even with the most meticulous checks possible, one or two usually make it through to production.
It’s vital to evaluate website bugs as they come up, so you know how urgently you need to fix them. Without taking a moment to assess impact, you’ll be shooting in the dark.
You might invest your precious resources in unnecessary work, or worse—underestimate the problem and cause frustrated users to take their business elsewhere.
Solving common problems
Create an effective landing page using these free tools (video tutorial)
Your website is still one of your most important business tools, yet only 15% of websites average over 100,000 unique monthly visitors. In order to create successful websites that convert, consumers have access to an array of tools and features that promise to simplify their lives.
However, the overwhelming abundance of options can sometimes lead to more complications. Business owners often find themselves wondering, "How can I easily create a landing page that converts without design resources, IT support, or expensive optimization experts?"
Solving common problems
10 ways Hotjar helps you understand your users better
Your sales are down; the well's running dry. What do you do to encourage people to buy from you: add a new product or service or multiply an existing product's features?
Increasing choices and features may be a business's automatic response to boost interest and, later on, conversion and sales. But more is needed to justify using company resources to create a solution that may or may not resonate with customers.
To achieve real, needle-moving change, you need to dig deeper and understand users better—what motivates or frustrates them and what hinders or helps them satisfy their 'jobs to be done'.