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8 tactics to uncover issues and prioritize fixes with Hotjar you can try right now

If you look at the bigger picture, every gesture extending empathy to your users counts for something. Your users' experiences and feelings are the actionable insights you need to build a business they'll love. It also enables you to understand your customers on a deeper level, uncover issues blocking them, and use your findings to prove your product or service’s value in their lives.


Last updated

31 Jan 2023

This article presents eight actionable ways to empathize with your users without leaving the Hotjar platform. Watch recordings to identify problems or issues in the user experience (UX), create heatmaps to find the most critical bug fixes, and launch a quick survey to hear what people need before they leave your website. 

See the common denominator there? You won’t have to guess what’s wrong each time—you’ll know. It’s time to confidently troubleshoot issues and prioritize improvements: your customers will feel (and the conversion rates will confirm) the difference.

Introduce changes that make an impact

Discover UX issues on your site and unlock insights into what to do next—only with Hotjar.

1. Watch recordings to identify the root cause of poor conversion

Are your conversion rates rising steadily…but slowly

Your gut instinct may be telling you that something’s not clicking. So you try multiple tools for conversion rate optimization (CRO) at once: Google Analytics, heatmap software, a UX agency, and even focus groups representing your target audience. And yet, your conversion rates continue to increase negligibly—think 0.5%—each month. 

This is exactly what happened to StudentCrowd, a decision-making platform for university students in the UK, until they started using session recordings. The solution not only cost less but also bolstered their conversion rates by a whopping 55%.

A quick study: what caused StudentCrowd’s conversion rates to climb?

StudentCrowd allows students to review courses, accommodation, part-time jobs, and anything related to university student life. Here’s how they found and tackled their users' challenges, all in less than two hours.

  • With his team, Paul (the founder and Chief Operating Officer) watched recordings of students trying to complete reviews

  • They noticed several behavioral patterns right away: students were spending too much time scrolling on mobile, struggling to answer questions, and straining to find certain buttons

  • With their findings, they made small changes that drastically improved the situation and racked up fantastic results

Remember: the real reason behind poor conversion can be buried deep within the user experience. By watching recordings consistently, you’re training your team to discover issues and implement bug fixes immediately. Schedule a Watch Party with them to build muscle memory while keeping it fun.

#Getting hold of Hotjar during the Beta release, Paul and his team watched session replays to find out what tripped users up
Getting hold of Hotjar during the Beta release, Paul and his team watched session replays to find out what tripped users up

2. Generate heatmaps of updated pages to gauge user reception

Heatmaps represent visitor interactions via a color scale. They show areas receiving the most (red) to the least (blue) interaction, which comes in the form of:

  • Clicks on desktop and taps on mobile

  • Mouse movements

  • Scrolls

In particular, you can set up a heatmap for each of your popular landing pages before updating them. Then proceed with your landing page optimization plan, which may include making significant changes to the layout, rearranging page elements, or even replacing an existing call-to-action (CTA).

After the redesign, compare the pre-change and post-change heatmaps to spot differences in people’s behavior. See if users are more compelled to take a desired action. Do they get confused when they click or tap on an element and are taken somewhere they didn’t expect? Are they ignoring or missing something you’d like them to focus on?

Note: as a visual tool, a heatmap makes getting your point or message across easier, whether the recipient is your team or someone from another department. It’s a must-have for everyone involved in cross-functional collaboration.

A cautionary tale

After adding a video to the Hotjar homepage during a 2018 redesign, we found out through various click maps (a type of heatmap collating all page clicks) that it wasn’t driving any interaction, only wasting valuable space. So we took the insight, changed the design again, and removed the video in the new version.

#Mobile and desktop click maps proved to us that the added video wasn’t providing any business value by existing and being high up on the homepage
Mobile and desktop click maps proved to us that the added video wasn’t providing any business value by existing and being high up on the homepage

3. Combine Recordings and Heatmaps for a clearer picture of the customer journey

Here’s another option for you: mix and match Hotjar’s tools and features if you want to take your website analysis to the next level. Below are steps you can follow as-is or tailor-fit to your needs for switching things up on our platform.

Pinpoint problem areas

Capture Recordings of your site users’ end-to-end journey. If you notice sales are down, use our built-in filters to narrow down the pages you wish to evaluate. Filters allow you to view relevant session recordings based on specific criteria.

Once you have access to the recordings, identify steps where people encounter issues. It could be that they’re hesitant to log in before checking out, feeling lost while looking for a product they previously viewed, or ultimately, growing impatient and abandoning their carts altogether.

Include the voice of the customer

Think like an investigator, so you can piece together what’s happening. Gather first-hand accounts by placing a Feedback widget on specific pages. This tool enables you to hear from your users the moment they encounter issues and lets you in on how they truly experience your site in real time. 

💰Bonus: with Hotjar’s integrations, you can send your feedback responses directly to a Slack or Microsoft Teams channel, so you won’t miss a thing—and can fix issues the second they arise.

Prioritize fixes and opportunities

Generate heatmaps to determine popular and unpopular areas, elements, and features on your website. This visual representation of page views and related data informs your next steps regarding which bug fixes to prioritize first and which opportunities to pursue.

💡Pro-tip: when it comes to the ecommerce customer journey, Hotjar and Google Analytics (GA) are the ideal pair. GA shows you what is happening across your site while Hotjar tells you why—the context behind the numbers that gives your imagination a workout and allows you to put yourself in the customers’ shoes.

4. Apply filters to track down bugs and use Highlights to group findings and get buy-in more easily

You already know filters and recordings work together to help you bust website bugs. But there are other techniques to refine your investigation. Here’s how to uncover issues using this powerful combination:

  • Filter recordings by users who rage clicked during a session. Rage clicks are multiple clicks on an element, precisely five clicks within 500 milliseconds of one another—a strong indication that people are encountering a problem when interacting with said element.

#Filter recordings based on users who rage clicked
Filter recordings based on users who rage clicked
  • Within the segment of users who rage clicked, sort the recordings by exit page or the last page a person visited before leaving your site. See if a pattern is present on the same exit page and strategically locate where issues exist.

  • Use additional filters related to user frustration, such as u-turns, to quickly find UX issues and implement bug fixes

Further, you can capture a highlight when you find evidence of pain points or blockers from a heatmap or recording. Label a highlight as a bug (🐞), save it, and add highlights to a collection to:

  1. Identify patterns

  2. Validate assumptions

  3. Group findings and share them with stakeholders later

#Add the highlight to a collection
Add the highlight to a collection

5. Launch Feedback and Surveys to ask users directly about what bugs them (no pun intended)

When users encounter an issue on your site, ask them to leave a feedback response or complete a survey. Going to them directly enables you to gauge frustration—or delight—about individual parts of your site, such as an entire page, forms, images, or new features. In turn, this tactic helps drive rapid improvements. 

You can also connect user responses to the session recordings that feature them. For instance, you get a comment saying, “it doesn’t work 😡,” which could leave you wondering what exactly does not work. Remove the guesswork around this answer by viewing the associated recording and pinpointing what they’re referring to.

6. Run user interviews with Engage to determine common UX challenges

Go deeper and get closer to your customers by investing in user interviews. There are two immediate benefits to talking to your users as often as possible. For one, it empowers them to participate in developing a product that meets their needs. At the same time, this practice streamlines your workflow and trains your team to iterate faster on their designs. 

The challenge with this type of user research is that it takes time to recruit the right people, schedule interviews, host and record the call, transcribe it later, and share insights. With Engage, the newest addition to Hotjar’s family of products, you can improve the process and spend your time on more important things: building strong relationships with your users.

Start with the following:

Tap into Hotjar’s pool of more than 175,000 verified participants to identify your target audience (or bring your own participants to the platform).

Automate recruitment, scheduling, and hosting of moderated interviews through the platform with minimal fuss.

Include your team members as observers on calls and share time-stamped notes filled with your insightsthen turn them into compelling arguments for getting things done.

Remember: the qualitative insights you glean from user interviews are invaluable. Why? They clarify your users’ main motivations and concerns, sparking impactful changes for you.

#Ensure you’re speaking to the right people and solving real problems
Ensure you’re speaking to the right people and solving real problems

7. Create a dashboard to discover user insights

Hotjar’s Dashboard offers an aggregate, visual view of your users’ qualitative and quantitative data, giving you a glimpse of what’s happening across your site. Checking it every now and then can clue you in on new insights or pave the path to greater discovery, such as:

  • Uncovering issues and understanding the real reason your visitors do not become customers

  • Quickly learning how users really feel about your product by studying user sentiment on the Dashboard

  • Seeing how users react to UX changes by consulting the rage click and u-turn trends

#Your Dashboard shows frustration signals over time so you can search for spikes
Your Dashboard shows frustration signals over time so you can search for spikes

8. Make the most of Hotjar to stay agile and master prioritization 

Prioritizing bug fixes and product updates could mean building something totally unexpected (and different from what you initially envisioned). But at its core, it’s also about implementing customer-led changes that will keep users happy while simultaneously growing your bottom line.

The Hotjar platform equips your team with tools and features that help you achieve exactly that:

  • Detect blockers across the ecommerce customer journey by viewing recordings of multiple pages

  • Zoom in on individual pages’ heatmaps to identify and fix the most common UX issues 

  • Eliminate guesswork and gain insight into what users actually want through Feedback and Surveys

  • Look at the big picture through the Dashboard to spot issues before they become serious, get rid of backlog, and monitor trends to discover if a problem’s more of an isolated case or a widespread event that deserves prioritization 

  • Deepen insights by employing filters, Highlights and Events (learn how to set Events up here)

  • Mix and match those mentioned above to gather your findings, build your case, get support for your ideas, deliver impact, and keep everyone in sync

Implement changes—big or small—with confidence

Keeping an eye on the pain points and blockers your customers face is made more efficient by our intuitive tools and features. If this is your first time learning how a session recording works or trying a heatmap, start by solving simple problems and delivering quick wins.

You’ll get the hang of it the more you practice (and streamline your workflow in the process). Of course, it can go a long way if you remember that with each issue you uncover and bug you fix, you’re taking steps to become better at empathizing with your users. And that’s something worth aiming for when your users’ appreciation and loyalty inevitably manifest as more sales.

Go beyond support tickets

See for yourselves where users get stuck on your site. Understand the issues they encounter, told in their own words.