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Hotjar vs. PostHog: which one should you choose?

Hotjar and PostHog are behavior analytics software designed to help you understand how people experience your website or products. But there are a ton of differences under the hood. 

This guide helps you spend less time choosing software, and more time working on what matters most: delighting customers and growing your business.

Last updated

26 Jun 2024

Reading time

11 min



The main differences between PostHog and Hotjar

  • Hotjar, part of the Contentsquare group, is primarily a behavior analytics tool, whereas PostHog is mainly a product analytics tool. Sounds similar, right? But Hotjar is much more focused on the nitty-gritty of why users behave the way they do on your website or products. PostHog is more focused on high-level numbers.

  • PostHog was designed for developers, whereas Hotjar is for product managers, designers, researchers, and marketers

  • PostHog is built for start-ups, whereas Hotjar is used by everyone from solopreneurs to big companies like Adobe or Ryanair 

  • Hotjar is used on 1,138,695 websites, whereas PostHog is used on 61,055 (via BuiltWith: May 8, 2024)

  • For the core session recordings/replays functionality, PostHog costs almost 3x more per session than Hotjar does (around €0.03 per session vs. Hotjar’s €0.01)

  • PostHog has extra product analytics functionalities (like user paths and correlation analysis), whereas Hotjar has extra user research functionalities (like user interviews and off-site surveys) 

Here’s a side-by-side comparison to help you get your bearings. Then we dive into specifics. As always, the devil is in the details.

💡While Hotjar isn’t designed to be a product analytics tool, Heap, also part of the Contentsquare group, is. If you’re looking for a product analytics tool, Heap could be a match!

The two big differences between PostHog and Hotjar

Hotjar and PostHog have a lot in common. Ultimately, they both help you understand your site or product usage. But there are fundamental differences in who these platforms are for and the level of detail they offer you on your users and their experience. 

Who are Hotjar and PostHog built for?

That’s a big question (the second one). The answer determines how easy it is to get started with a product, the types of features prioritized, and whether or not you can use the tool to align with stakeholders. 

PostHog is a self-described tool for developers. They’re transparent and laser-focused on their target market, which makes writing a post like this way simpler (thanks, folks!). It’s available both as a cloud-based tool and as a self-hosted option.

Here at Hotjar, product managers, designers, researchers, and marketers get the most value out of our cloud-based platform. Sure, they loop in engineers to share user experience (UX) issues or get buy-in on an improvement, and tons of engineers use Hotjar every day, but they’re not our main audience. 

These differences massively affect how and what each platform builds. PostHog takes some getting used to—it’s a technical tool. Some non-technical folks simply can’t use it. Meanwhile, Hotjar is used by teams across organizations. It’s super accessible but lacks some technical features (e.g., feature flags) that you’ll find in PostHog. 

User behavior vs. user sentiment

PostHog and Hotjar help you monitor how people use your site or product. Tools like scroll, move, and click maps let you see which page elements users engage with. And with session replay, you can put yourself in your customers shoes to understand their end-to-end journey. But what about how your users feel?

You can often infer how a user feels by tracking things like rage clicks on a page. Rage clicks are multiple clicks on the same button or element in quick succession—we’ve all been there. But user sentiment can also be captured in other ways, with tools like surveys and interviews.

Both Hotjar and PostHog offer on-site surveys. But Hotjar also offers

  • External link surveys, e.g. to share in an email or on social media

  • Replays of survey responses—sometimes you need to see the experience behind their response

  • User interviews to meet 1:1 with your users (or folks from Hotjar’s pool of 200k participants)

  • Custom surveys logic—essential for multiple-choice, multiple-question surveys.

Numbers only tell you so much. Sometimes you need to ask your customers to get the full picture. And that’s where Hotjar is a huge help.

#Use Hotjar Engage to automate recruitment, scheduling, and hosting of moderated interviews. Seamlessly record, transcribe, and add notes for your team so everyone stays in the loop.
Use Hotjar Engage to automate recruitment, scheduling, and hosting of moderated interviews. Seamlessly record, transcribe, and add notes for your team so everyone stays in the loop.

Hotjar vs. PostHog tool comparison

With the high-level differences out of the way, let’s get into the weeds of how these platforms actually work. We cover


Both PostHog and Hotjar offer heatmaps. To compare them, we quickly walk you through the steps of creating and analyzing heatmaps, and how to take action with the insights you glean.

Accessing heatmaps

PostHog’s heatmaps are accessible via its ‘toolbar’ functionality—it’s a bit like an inspect tool you might be familiar with from your browser. As such, PostHog’s heatmaps show you engagement data on top of your live website. 

PostHog doesn’t let you compare heatmaps of old and new versions of web pages if you’ve made changes over time. In comparison, Hotjar’s heatmaps are visible inside the Hotjar software and can display engagement on either a recreation of your live website or a historical record of that website. That’s a big difference in favor of Hotjar.

Creating a heatmap

To create a heatmap, the first thing you need to do is decide which page(s) you’d like to display a heatmap for. PostHog lets you enter a URL and supports wildcards like* so you could view a heatmap of all product pages combined. Hotjar does that too, but with the addition of regex support, so that you can not only do wildcards but also exclude certain pages. 

You then might want to choose to compare behavior across different types of customers. New users tend to behave differently compared to returning users. Similarly, how do users who leave negative feedback on your site interact with particular pages? These are questions that Hotjar answers. PostHog can’t—it doesn’t allow you to segment your heatmaps by different types of customers.

Types of heatmaps

Both tools offer mouse move, click, tap, and scroll maps. Hotjar also offers rage click and engagement zone maps on its Business and Scale plans. Rage click maps surface quick UX improvements by showing you where users get frustrated on a page. And engagement zones intelligently combine move, click, and scroll data to help inform your page optimization efforts. And the best part? Hotjar guides you during the heatmap creation process so you can be sure to pick the right map type for your use case.

#Use Hotjar to create five different types of heatmaps
Use Hotjar to create five different types of heatmaps

Analyzing heatmaps

They’re just a bunch of heat blobs on a page, right? It can be hard to know how a heatmap should impact your work and priorities. PostHog doesn’t have additional tools to help you with this. Hotjar does. 

Engagement Zone maps does a lot of the heavy lifting for you in combining move, click, and scroll data. Plus, you’ll see a bunch of page performance stats alongside your heatmap for all the context you need about the page. And finally, you can quickly zoom in to watch recordings of clicks on specific elements, or zoom out to a trend line of clicks on any element to see how that behavior has changed over time. That’s a whole lot of extra context to help you make informed decisions.

#An example of an engagement zone map
An example of an engagement zone map

Sharing insights

You found something interesting on a heatmap and want to loop in your team to work on an improvement? In PostHog, you’d probably need to take a screenshot of your finding, and then share that screenshot in an email or communication tool. In Hotjar, you can use Highlights to snip and save parts of your heatmap, add a comment, and @ mention your coworker. You could add this highlight to a collection so that you can group all your insights into an easy-to-digest summary. Or even forward that highlight to a task management tool like Linear, Jira, or Asana via our integrations. Our customers tell us that’s a nicer way to get coworkers on board with an idea.

Session recordings (replays)

Hotjar’s and PostHog’s session recordings functionality is very similar, with both boasting robust features. So instead of listing all the similarities, here’s what’s different:

Hotjar lets you

  • Sort recordings by frustration and engagement score to fast-track to ones packed with simple ways to improve your site

  • View recordings directly from a user’s on-site survey response, to get the full context

  • Save parts of a recording as a highlight and share it with your team

PostHog lets you

  • Record mobile Android apps (in Beta at the time of writing)

  • Monitor network and performance issues alongside your recording (note that both Hotjar and PostHog show JavaScript errors)

We should also mention the cost, particularly for sites with some traffic. PostHog offers 5,000 sessions for free vs. 1,050 on Hotjar’s free monthly plan. But for paid plans, PostHog costs almost 3x more per session (around €0.03 per session vs. around €0.01 for Hotjar). Both platforms have helpful calculators so you can plug in your numbers and see what the price would be: here’s Hotjar’s


Surveys help you go beyond what people do on your site to understand their thoughts and feelings. 

Both Hotjar and PostHog allow you to run surveys on your site, as either a pop-over format or as an embedded survey without a page. That’s where the similarities end. Overall, PostHog’s surveys are far more limited in functionality.

Here we’ll show the differences, broken down by survey creation and analysis. 

Here are the main differences for survey creation:

  • Hotjar offers an AI survey creation tool: pop in your goal, and it creates a survey for you

  • For surveys with multiple questions, Hotjar supports custom logic to allow you to show a different question based on the respondent’s previous answer

  • PostHog lets you link out to an external URL from a survey (e.g. to a review site)

  • Hotjar allows you to send out surveys via an external link, so you’re not limited to users having to fill out a survey while browsing your site

  • To create an embedded survey, the steps in PostHog are far more technical, but this allows for greater flexibility

  • Both tools allow you to target specific user groups. Only PostHog lets you trigger surveys based on feature flags (via PostHog’s feature flag functionality)

#Use Hotjar AI to create surveys for any goal in seconds and generate summary reports automatically
Use Hotjar AI to create surveys for any goal in seconds and generate summary reports automatically

Here are the main differences between the platforms when you’re analyzing surveys:

  • Only Hotjar allows you to view recorded sessions of users leaving survey responses on your site, to get valuable context behind their responses

  • Hotjar AI creates survey summary reports for you to share with your team

  • Hotjar AI can automatically tag open-text survey responses to identify themes and positive/negative sentiments

  • Hotjar offers a Responses API to deeply embed user feedback into your team’s daily work, or display results in your own reporting tool

  • Only Hotjar allows you to recruit users for user interviews from a survey response

Charts and reports

Product analytics tools have reporting functionality at their core. This is why you’ll find a load more functionality in PostHog when it comes to charts and reports.

Both platforms offer funnel reports, change-over-time reports, and robust dashboards. But this is how they differ:

  • Hotjar offers dashboard templates to help you get set up and find insights fast

  • PostHog boasts user path analysis, correlation analysis, retention, user lifecycle, and product stickiness reports. These reports are all quite standard for a product analytics tool. And as a reminder, Hotjar isn’t a product analytics tool. But Hotjar’s sister company, Heap, also powered by Contentsquare, is. 

So, if product analytics functionality like the above is important to you, we’d highly recommend comparing PostHog with Heap

But if this product analytics functionality isn’t a priority, or if you’re a team looking for an accessible solution that can be used by non-technical folks, Hotjar is a great choice.

Bonus: interviews vs. experiments and feature flags

There are two features that really highlight the difference between PostHog and Hotjar: 

  • Hotjar offers user interviews, whereas PostHog doesn’t

  • PostHog offers feature flags and experimentation, whereas Hotjar doesn’t

As such, Hotjar focuses on helping you understand your users, while PostHog focuses on helping you build and measure your product performance. 

User interviews in Hotjar let you find the right users for any research project—you can recruit people from Hotjar’s pool of 200,000+ diverse participants. Focus on spotting key insights while Hotjar seamlessly hosts, records, and transcribes your calls. Involve your team, compare notes, and turn insights into actions.

Feature flags and experiments in PostHog let you manage the rollouts of your product updates while running and measuring experiments. Product analytics tools often either offer this functionality themselves or partner with dedicated tools. Overall, it makes measuring the impact of experiments easy. But PostHog falls short here by not allowing you to view heatmaps of experiment variants (unless those variants have unique URLs). 

The verdict: when is Hotjar or PostHog the better fit?

PostHog is likely a better fit if

  • You’re looking for a product analytics tool (though we’d recommend checking out Heap)

  • You want a tool to run experiments

  • You’re a technical founder

  • You want to view session replays for an Android mobile app

  • You don’t want non-technical people to use this platform

Hotjar is likely a better fit if

  • You’re looking for a tool that can serve non-technical and technical roles, to build a shared understanding of your site or product

  • You value behavioral data (from session replays and heatmaps) more than high-level numbers (from product analytics)—e.g. If you’re already using a different product analytics tool, like Heap 

  • You want to compare how users engage with your pages before vs. after you make changes

  • You want to understand what your users think and feel, beyond what they do on your site or product

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