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Hotjar vs. FullStory: which platform is right for you?
Hotjar and FullStory are two best-in-class behavior analytics platforms popular for analyzing website performance and user behavior.
Both have similar tools and features but essential differences in their function. While FullStory aims to collect as much user data as possible, Hotjar’s combination of voice-of-the-customer (VoC) tools with heatmaps and recordings enables a more qualitative, people-centric approach to behavior analysis.
Last updated10 Aug 2023
Reading time18 min
Keep reading for a comprehensive comparison of Hotjar and FullStory. We cover the following topics:
TL;DR: Hotjar vs. FullStory
There’s a lot of information to cover here, so let’s take a quick look at the highlights. Here’s what you really need to know about Hotjar vs. FullStory:
Hotjar is a standout in its field, offering a complete package of behavior analytics tools spanning heatmaps, recordings, feedback, surveys, and user interviews.
Hotjar’s in-built VoC tools bring deeper insights that heatmaps and recordings alone can’t capture. FullStory integrates with third-party VoC tools, meaning users must create separate accounts and pay additional costs.
While Hotjar is able to provide 100% session capture on paid plans, FullStory’s ‘index everything’ approach captures a vast amount of data about every single user session on your site regardless of plan.
The Hotjar platform is intuitive and easy to use, so any type of business or team can get set up without needing support from developers; FullStory has a steeper learning curve.
Hotjar specializes in building a greater understanding and empathy for your users through a range of qualitative and quantitative user insights, so you can make intelligent, impactful optimizations to your website or product.
Hotjar is a highly collaborative platform with team-focused features, making knowledge sharing and user empathy accessible company-wide, regardless of role or expertise.
Hotjar offers 12 months of data storage for free, while FullStory charges extra for any data storage for periods longer than one month.
Hotjar uses continuous data sampling, so you never run out of sessions mid-month; FullStory’s sampling allowance can run out quickly, leaving you without insights for long periods if you don’t pay an additional charge to exceed your plan limit for sessions.
The main differences between Hotjar and FullStory
For the purpose of this comparison, we’ll primarily analyze the features and tools available on Hotjar’s Business plan and FullStory’s Advanced plan.
Both platforms aim to bring you a greater understanding of your user behavior. However, they vary in both their functions and philosophies.
Hotjar’s software takes a customer-centric approach to your user behavior analysis. Combining factual, quantitative data with qualitative data that brings context to your user behavior, Hotjar delivers manageable information with actionable, people-first insights.
FullStory indexes every user interaction within your site, so it can identify and support individual users. However, this means you’re at risk of having vast amounts of data without context on what to do with it.
Before we review the main tools and features these platforms have in common, let’s dig deeper into their most significant differences:
Feedback and Surveys
Hotjar is a standout in this comparison thanks to its customer feedback capabilities. The Feedback widget and Surveys tool, available in the Hotjar Ask product, come standard with any Hotjar Observe product (Heatmaps and Recordings).
Feedback is an expandable on-page widget that lets users share their opinions about the page itself. It gathers a feedback score over time, allowing your users to
Score their experience with emojis or stars ⭐
Add a screenshot of a page element to explain and contextualize their feedback 📸
Comment to provide additional context 🗨️
Hotjar’s Surveys tool lets you place surveys on a page as pop-ups, buttons, or overlays to catch your users’ attention while they’re exploring your site or send them out via email after the fact so users can answer in their own time. You can also trigger surveys to appear only to certain users or after a user takes specific actions.
More than 40 templates and a question bank help you set up your survey and ensure you ask the right questions at the right time.
Hotjar’s free Ask Basic plan gives your site three surveys and three feedback widgets every month. Paid plans give you an unlimited number of both, so the potential for inspiring feedback is endless.
Feedback and Surveys can be accompanied by corresponding recordings of specific user sessions, so you see your users in action at the time they shared their responses.
FullStory doesn’t offer VoC tools for gathering user feedback. FullStory customers can integrate the platform with external feedback tools like Qualtrics and Survicate, but this requires separate accounts and comes at an added cost.
Hotjar Engage lets you conduct interviews and user testing on the Hotjar platform to connect with your users directly and gather insights into how they perceive your brand, product, or user experience. While other behavior analytics platforms, like Mouseflow, offer a dedicated Surveys tool, Hotjar is currently the only platform with a user interviews component.
User interviews take your qualitative data collection to another level and bring you face-to-face with your users: no need for guesswork, interpretation, or manual analysis. You can use Engage to host, record, and transcribe interviews with users. You can also invite your team or stakeholders to the show and add them to calls as observers.
Engage brings to life the behavior you see in heatmaps, recordings, and feedback. This touchpoint gives you added context for your users’ sentiments and even more insights about their experience with your site or product.
On Hotjar’s free Engage Basic plan, you can host up to 60 30-minute interviews per year and store your website visitor recordings for two weeks. Upgrading to a paid plan gives exclusive access to Hotjar’s private pool of more than 200,000 testers, plus the addition of moderators and spectators.
FullStory has no tool for conducting user interviews.
Highlights and collaboration
The Highlights feature in Hotjar lets you capture standout snippets of recordings or heatmaps, then tag relevant teammates, label the behavior, and add each highlight to a dedicated collection.
You can save your highlights with filters like
Type of behavior
Hotjar doesn’t just take a people-first approach to your end users—it’s designed to make your team’s life easier, too.
Built with collaboration and teamwork in mind, Highlights empowers you and your team to share knowledge and increase awareness of your user experience. Everyone who should be involved can be, as Highlights provides unlimited user seats on any plan, making data accessible to your entire team.
FullStory does not provide dedicated collaboration features, so teams may find its information-sharing capabilities limited. Its notes library tool for session replays shows all notes chronologically, but this doesn’t allow grouping by theme.
FullStory’s OmniSearch is an AI-powered search function with a broad spectrum of filters that lets users sort through their data and home in on highly targeted learnings. Because FullStory indexes so much information from all sessions on a website, OmniSearch is essential for efficiently filtering and searching this data to get to the crux of a visitor’s behavior.
FullStory customers can filter by parameters such as
Events, e.g. rage clicks
Time of visit
Users can create their preferred combination of filters, input their scoped query into OmniSearch, and access specific user analytics scenarios for deeper analysis. They can then save these filter combinations as segments to reuse again.
Hotjar does not have a specific search function on its platform. However, it offers full session capture and more advanced filtering options on higher plans, so you can easily track and analyze large amounts of data.
Mobile app user analysis
FullStory for Mobile Apps analyzes user behavior on mobile apps and is available for Android and iOS users.
The tool recreates sessions based on page mockups to reconstruct the user experience. It suppresses all sensitive information and does not record or screenshot the end user’s screen.
FullStory customers can analyze where users clicked, what pages they viewed, and how they interacted with an app without interrupting the user experience or revealing private data.
Hotjar gives you insights into how users behave on digital products like websites and web apps, but not specifically for mobile apps.
FullStory customers can access funnels with every plan, including their free trial package.
Users can create funnels for specific segments using URLs, event data, or a combination of both. FullStory also allows users to design funnels to track particular customer journeys, such as an end user’s final conversion or a new visitor’s sign-up and onboarding process.
FullStory's funnels can be paired with its Journeys and Session Replays to visualize common paths and gain inspiration for multi-step funnels.
FullStory also allows users to compare date ranges, properties, and segments of users. Users can compare up to three different date ranges or segments.
Hotjar does have a Funnels tool, but it’s currently only available on the Observe Scale plan, which we discuss more later on.
FullStory’s development tools are available on all plans, including their free Business plan trial. They offer both a console view and a network view of errors, so you can dive deeper into error reports on your site to find the source of the issue and analyze issues like
Reliability of your site
While this type of error reporting brings more advanced information about issues on your site, it adds complexity that necessitates engineering QA teams' support.
Hotjar does offer console tracking, but it’s currently only available on the Observe Scale plan, which we discuss more later on.
There are several plan options available on both platforms.
Hotjar’s free-forever Basic plan gives users access to the Observe, Ask, and Engage products, so they can immediately start analyzing their data with tools like Heatmaps, Recordings, Surveys, Feedback, and Interviews for a full picture of their user experience.
For those looking for more advanced filtering options and additional features, there’s the option to upgrade to Plus, Business, or Scale plans. Pricing is available on the website, and users can upgrade plans themselves.
FullStory does not have a free plan. Instead, it offers a 14-day free trial period for its Business plan. Customers have the option to upgrade to the Advanced or Enterprise plans if they need more features.
Pricing is not available on the FullStory website, and customers must contact the Sales team for an accurate quote. Users also need to go through the Sales team if they wish to upgrade their plan.
What are Hotjar’s and FullStory’s key tools?
Now that we’ve assessed where Hotjar and FullStory differ, let's compare the main tools and features they have in common.
In this section, we look at the types of heatmaps, plan options, page insights, and features available with Hotjar and FullStory’s heatmap tools.
Hotjar Heatmaps is available on every plan—even the free Observe Basic plan lets users create unlimited heatmaps. Heatmaps immediately starts collecting user data once you’ve set up your Hotjar account and installed the tracking code.
Heatmaps aggregate user behavior on site pages, showing where users click and scroll, what interests them, and how they interact with page elements.
Hotjar has five types of heatmaps:
Move maps, which show where the user’s cursor moved or lingered on a page
Click maps, which show the elements or areas of a page users click or ignore
Scroll maps, which show where users scroll to and elements they overlook
Engagement Zones heatmaps, which show where users interact with a page the most
Rage click maps, which show where users repeatedly click in frustration
Hotjar’s dedicated Heatmaps insights panel lets you assess your heatmap data so you can more holistically understand the user journey. With a free plan, you’ll be able to see things like drop-off rates or the average time spent on a page, while higher plans reveal data like rage clicks, u-turn rates, and page errors.
The unique Retaker tool lets users take multiple screenshots of a page or session: if you feel a heatmap is missing valuable information about your users, you can simply retake it to capture a more accurate picture of the data you’re interested in. This includes dynamic content such as drop-down menus or pop-ups.
Hotjar's Observe (Heatmaps and Recordings) plans come standard with a free Ask (Feedback and Surveys) and Engage (Interviews) plan, so Hotjar users can also review heatmaps accompanied by user feedback and survey responses to spot bugs and get greater visibility into users' behavior.
Like Hotjar, FullStory’s heatmaps are available on all plans.
The platform offers two types of heatmaps and three heatmap overlays:
Rage clicks overlay
Dead clicks overlay (shows when users click non-interactive elements)
Error clicks overlay (shows when clicking causes an error message)
FullStory’s heatmaps show the top 25 most clicked elements on a page, automatically discounting any dynamic elements. Unlike Hotjar, they don’t offer a retake function, meaning users can miss out on data around pop-ups and drop-down menus.
With FullStory’s heatmap overlays, you can filter your results by rage, dead, or error clicks and see heatmaps that show only those actions. You can also expand to see the number of users who have taken this action, how many times it occurred, and on what elements it took place.
🏆 Why Hotjar wins: FullStory heatmaps provide vast amounts of data, so it can be challenging to accurately identify and analyze what’s important to your users. Hotjar’s Engagement Zones, move heatmaps, and page insights give more context and clarity into your users' needs.
FullStory and Hotjar have similar session recordings tools. With Hotjar, Recordings is available on the free-forever Observe Basic plan, while FullStory users can access them with the 14-day free Business plan trial.
Below we compare these platforms’ recordings players and features, filters, and collaborative capabilities.
Hotjar shows session recordings spanning a user’s multi-page journey on your website. If your user moves to a different page, you can still get a holistic view of their journey—meaning it’s easier to understand your customer’s experience and build empathy for them.
Hotjar Recordings categorizes user sessions by relevance, frustration levels, engagement, date, and your users’ location, so you can immediately see which sessions are of higher importance and watch them first.
Hotjar lets you save your favorite filter combinations as ‘segments’, so only the data that matters most to you is visible, and you don’t need to manually apply them each time.
You can also star and save your favorite recordings, so it’s easy to find them later to share with your team or take a deeper dive into your analysis.
Hotjar’s player lets you skip straight to the good parts: you can highlight each recording with timestamps across its timeline showing particular events, like rage clicks, u-turns, and any feedback your users leave.
Team members can also attach tags to recordings to highlight specific user actions, so if you’re only interested in seeing rage clicks, you can jump ahead to these events.
Watching the recordings that accompany user feedback gives a more thorough understanding of what visitors were experiencing at the time they left their responses.
FullStory’s Session Replay
FullStory’s recordings tool—or Session Replays—is similar to Hotjar's in function and features, allowing its customers to capture user behavior in real time, filter by events or attributes, and gather page insights about each session.
The tool’s ‘tabbed browsing’ shows users closing, opening, and jumping between tabs, making it easy to get a clear sense of their behavior and spot issues or frustration areas.
FullStory also lets its users deliberately hide or include active sessions—that means live recordings of users happening in the moment.
There’s no ability to save recordings for later, so if FullStory customers find a session particularly interesting and want to take another look, they need to search for and find it manually.
🏆 Why Hotjar wins: the ability to save recordings for later, leave notes, and highlight critical moments makes analyzing Hotjar recordings less time-consuming and more collaborative for teams.
Comparing the Hotjar and FullStory dashboards, we cover important features, ease of setup, and available filters.
While some behavior analytics platforms, such as Smartlook, have individual project dashboards, Hotjar’s dedicated Dashboards tool organizes all key metrics and data points in one centralized location. Recordings and heatmaps are easily accessible for deeper analysis, and data is translated into cohesive visual charts and graphs.
This helps you quickly identify which areas on your site need special attention without the manual labor of digging through individual tools to analyze your site’s performance.
Hotjar’s Dashboards tool is easy to set up, intuitive to navigate, and places all other tools on the Hotjar platform within easy reach. Setup requires little input from the user, you can create templated dashboards for every occasion. From new features to marketing campaigns, you can start in seconds.
Given how much data users can collect and analyze, the dashboard is a crucial tool on FullStory’s platform.
Only the primary user or admin can customize FullStory’s dashboard, and it can feature seven different card types for breaking down learnings:
Single metric: such as an A/B test result or the overall checkout rate
Funnel: showing where users are dropping out of flows
Dimensionality: ranking comparison of specific metrics, e.g. most clicked element
Text: organizing and categorizing your dashboard by theme
Trends: showing how interactions and behavior changes over time
Page flow: analyzing the transition between pages, such as ‘entry’ and ‘exit’ pages
Retention: showing how many users return or keep engaging with the product
Users can filter their dashboards by subsets such as property, time range, segment, or a combination of both.
Many of FullStory’s customers complain that setting up the dashboard, in particular, is complex and requires a lot of product knowledge. Only the creator or admin of a dashboard has the power to customize or delete it, meaning it’s less accessible to the broader team.
🏆 Why Hotjar wins: Hotjar’s Dashboards are straightforward and comprehensive, with templates doing most of the work for the user. FullStory’s users have criticized the dashboard for being difficult to set up, requiring manual labor and deep product knowledge.
Hotjar and FullStory: additional tools and capabilities
Along with their suite of tools, there are some additional details to consider regarding both platforms’ functionalities.
Here, we take a look at
FullStory and Hotjar have much the same integration capabilities and are compatible with most of the same platforms.
Check out the complete list of Hotjar integrations here.
🏆 Why FullStory wins: FullStory is compatible with more data management systems for those who want to analyze their learnings outside the platform’s capabilities.
Data sampling and storage
Hotjar offers intelligent, automatic data sampling, so if you experience more monthly traffic than usual, Hotjar’s sampling will adjust. That means you can rest assured Hotjar will collect data consistently, allowing a more accurate picture of your user behavior to develop over time.
With FullStory, users must manually increase their sample rate or pay more if traffic is higher than average. Otherwise, they risk exhausting their sampling budget before the end of the month, resulting in gaps in the data they collect.
Enabling the ‘Session Overages’ feature will result in FullStory capturing more sessions during spikes in traffic. However, you will be charged more than your usual contractual rate. This can be expensive for FullStory users with 100% capture and the overage feature enabled.
For data storage, Hotjar offers 12 months as standard, with as many user seats as you need—no need to upgrade your plan or pay extra.
FullStory charges their users per seat and also has additional costs for data retention beyond one month.
🏆 Why Hotjar wins: Hotjar’s expansive free data storage allowance and intelligent method of sampling data mean users can track their learnings over more extended periods and trust their data accurately represents their user behavior.
Ease of use
FullStory is a powerful tool—we can’t argue with that. But there’s a stark difference in both platforms’ ease, accessibility, and overall user experience. A recurring issue FullStory’s customers mention is that they find its UX complicated and struggle to set up their accounts independently. Many customers require FullStory’s customer support assistance to guide them through the process and help them customize the tools.
Applying a people-first philosophy to every area of the platform, Hotjar prides itself on offering accessible tools that help its users see results regardless of their roles or areas of expertise.
Pricing is 100% transparent, and users can upgrade their accounts themselves. On top of that, most Hotjar users find it easy to install and set up their accounts without support, so they can kick-start their user behavior analysis with minimal effort.
🏆 Why Hotjar wins: its highly visual, interactive, and easy-to-use design makes getting set up with Hotjar’s tools a painless process.
Exclusive to Hotjar’s Scale plan
High-traffic websites and enterprise businesses can benefit from Hotjar's Scale plan, which brings additional capabilities and even more value to the user insights Hotjar captures.
We look at the following Scale-exclusive tools and features:
Hotjar Trends translates quantitative data into visual charts and graphs revealing patterns in user behavior. The corresponding recordings show individual users’ actions during their time onsite. Plus, you can compare charts to see the differences in behavior over time.
Instead of struggling to make the connection between isolated data and the people it represents, you can see exactly how users interact with your site and anticipate their needs over time.
Hotjar Funnels allows you to create sales flows for your site and gives an overview of your conversion rates at every step of the customer journey, so you can clearly understand where and when customers convert (or don’t).
Hotjar Funnels can include up to ten steps in a flow and include user events like visiting specific URLs and searches or clicking on certain elements.
Users can compare multiple funnels against one another, and watch the corresponding recordings of what was happening during a visitor’s time on site so they can understand the why behind bounces or conversions.
Hotjar delivers more simplistic error reports than FullStory that are accessible company-wide and don’t require specialist engineering knowledge.
Why choose Hotjar?
What makes Hotjar so unique amongst a pool of user analytics platforms is simple: it’s the best option for a complete look into your user’s mind. Its Feedback, Surveys, and Interviews tools work in conjunction with Heatmaps and Recordings to give an unparalleled level of insights that take your customer-centricity and user empathy to another level.
User analytics is more than the cold, hard data of your website performance—it’s about the people behind the numbers. Hotjar not only shows you your user behavior in the form of visual, interactive heatmaps and recordings, but it also goes straight to the source, so you can break the communication barrier and hear what your users need.
For those who want a deeper understanding of their website’s performance and endless inspiration to drive business developments that put the customer first, Hotjar is the obvious choice.
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