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Your introduction to Hotjar: what it is, what it can do for you, and how it works

You already know it: what’s best for your users is best for your business.
...but do you have the right information to make that happen?

You may have the important numbers like page traffic and drop-off rate from your analytics tool. But do you know why your users are behaving a certain way? Where on the page specifically they are having issues that lead to them bouncing? Why they are not converting?

Hotjar helps you answer these questions. Let's show you how. 

Table of contents

What is Hotjar?

Hotjar is a behavior analytics and user feedback service that helps you understand the behavior of your website users and get their feedback through tools such as heatmaps, session recordings, and surveys.

Hotjar complements the data and insights you get from traditional web analytics tools like Google Analytics. It’s an industry-leading and easy-to-use service that combines analysis and feedback tools to help you understand what’s actually happening on your site, what your users care about, and what they have to say.

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4 reasons you should use Hotjar for your website

If you own or manage a website that you’re trying to improve, you’ll probably value any tool that:

  • Gives you clear and visual data points about what’s happening on your site
  • Helps you get some of the context about why people behave the way they do
  • Does the above quickly without requiring a steep learning curve
  • Is easy to get buy-in for and show the value of

Hotjar does all of the above. Let’s look at each of these four areas in more detail: 

1. Hotjar is a visual and direct way of understanding your user behavior

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If you manage an online store, you’re probably already using a traditional analytics tool like Google Analytics to show you the big picture of your website ecosystem. Likewise, if you’re an e-commerce marketer, you’ll be using the same tool to look at specific traffic data to understand conversions.

There is no limit to the amount of data you can track. But have you ever looked at these numbers and wondered why your users behave the way they do? What they’re actually doing on your website? And what they have to say about the experience you’re providing them?

Think of it like this: your Google Analytics overview is like seeing your website from 50,000 feet. You know there’s something going on down there—conversions are down over there, but you can’t explain why.

Hotjar puts you on ground level with your users, so you can see what they do. Go beyond the big picture, and experience your website through their eyes: 

  • Heatmaps show you an aggregate of user behavior on individual site pages: where do your users click and scroll? What are they interested in? Do they see the most important elements of the page, and interact with them?
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  • Recordings allow you to watch (anonymized) user sessions across your website, so you get to see where individual users actually get stuck, u-turn, and eventually abandon your page.
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The key takeaway? Empathizing with your users’ experience is the first step towards improving it.

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Read more about how leading e-commerce consultants eCommerce Warriors use Hotjar to wow their clients with visualized user behavior insights.

Even more curious about how using Heatmaps helps increase conversions? Using Hotjar to gather behavior data, Bannersnack increased signups by 25%.

2. Hotjar helps you collect the feedback that explains your users’ behavior

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Let’s say you’re up and running with Heatmaps and Recordings, and you spot a recurring pattern where it looks like your users are getting frustrated. They might be scrolling up and down and clicking around, unsure of what to do next.

It would be a mistake to go ahead and make big changes to their digital experience without validating your assumptions about what’s going on. Why not ask them what they think instead?

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The added magic of Hotjar is how it completes the picture of user behavior with feedback. It’s important to get visual insight into user experience and observe what your visitors see and do, but what you need next is context: the drivers that lead people to your site, the barriers that stop them, the hooks that convince them to do something. With Hotjar, you have different ways of doing it:

  • On-page Polls are little pop-ups that let you ask a quick question, in the moment, to your users.
    • Do you want to know why people don’t convert on your page? Pose the question to those who did, and see if something almost stopped them—so you can go ahead and fix the issue for everybody else.  
    • Ever wondered what’s going through your users’ heads when they exit a page? Measure exit intent by asking for feedback!
    • See something going wrong in a Recording, like someone clicking repeatedly on something that isn’t there? Run a Poll, and ask people what they’re looking for.
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  • Incoming Feedback is an expandable widget on the side of your web page that lets users share their hate-to-love feedback about the page itself.
    • Get the added context of having your users highlight things on your page and give highly specific feedback on their experience. For example, perhaps they want to tell you something about your pricing plans—and you should give them an opportunity to do so.
    • Collecting ongoing feedback is your best way of being systematic about building customer- and user-centric experiences on your website and products. Here’s how we use our feedback tools ourselves at Hotjar to improve our product.
    • You never know which golden tip or growth opportunity might come your way. Think of this widget like your always-open, permanent Usability Testing department.
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See how eShopWorld use Hotjar’s Incoming Feedback to understand their clients’ user experience in real-time, without disturbing the checkout flow.

  • Surveys let you collect user feedback after they’ve visited your site and performed an action on it.  
    • While Polls and Incoming Feedback are great for users to give quick in-the-moment feedback as they visit your website, Surveys are sent out asynchronously, and your respondents can answer in their own time.
    • Your respondents can go into more depth, and you can learn a lot about their motivations, expectations, and outcomes of their experience with you. For example, if you’re in e-commerce, you can trigger a post-purchase survey to their email and ask how they would rate their experience, what almost stopped them from becoming a customer, and whether there was anything about the experience that you should improve.
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If you’re still curious about improving the user experience with feedback, have a read of our beginner’s guide to website feedback with 10 practical use cases.

3. Hotjar gives you fast insights with no steep learning curve

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The complexity of many analytics tools can get in the way of your need to get going with understanding your users’ behavior: the learning curve is often high, the insight less than straightforward, plus heavy investment in setup time- and resource-wise means you might be wondering why on earth you didn’t just invite your users to your office to do usability testing in-person.
And that’s before we even acknowledge that a lot of analytics and insight tools will need you to get a lot of support from your development/tech team to implement them.

If that sounds familiar, we've got good news. Hotjar is super easy to set up and doesn’t have a steep learning curve:

  • Setup is as easy as installing one tracking code snippet on your website - which will put no strain on your development resources. Better still, Hotjar supports major tag managers like Google Tag Manager and can be installed onto hundreds of other platforms. For example, adding Hotjar to your Shopify store is quick and painless, and gives you multiple ways to increase shop conversions. The same when you want to optimize your WordPress site.

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  • Hotjar insights are for everyone. You don’t need a PhD in data science to interpret Hotjar’s insights: e-commerce marketers, UX designers, and product managers all get it. Virtually anyone on your team can look at a heatmap and interpret its color gradients, watch a couple of recordings and spot problematic interactions, and read feedback to understand what people really think of your website.
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Pro tip
: consider what the impact on UX and customer satisfaction would be if your whole organization was reviewing user behavior and reading customer feedback. If your mission is putting the customer and the user first—then you’ll need all your teams to better understand your user, and Hotjar helps you do exactly that.

See how digital signage experts Marlin utilize Hotjar across several teams: to speed up time-to-resolution for the service team, to create empathy in the product and development team, and to identify customer roadblocks that the Sales team will need to unblock.

4. It’s easy to get buy-in and show Hotjar’s value

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Hotjar works for teams of all sizes. Whether you’re a small startup building on lean UX with a small budget, or a worldwide enterprise with thousands of web pages—it’s easy to get Hotjar approved:

  • Hotjar combines 8 powerful behavior and feedback tools in one. You don’t need to go through procurement for separate heatmaps, recordings, and feedback tools—you only need to do it once, and you get access to all of them immediately. No alarm bells at ‘corporate’ when you ask for approval.
  • It’s free to use Hotjar basic forever, and Paid plans won’t break the bank.
  • Clearance with legal won’t be an issue: Hotjar is GDPR-ready, and our product is built and maintained with privacy by design.

How do you use Hotjar to understand and improve your website experience?

When it comes to using Hotjar on your website, there are many different usability and experience tests you can run and points of improvement to identify. In this article, we’ve gone through major use cases around visualizing user behavior and getting feedback, but the actual things you will do after using Hotjar might include the following:

  • Compare taps and clicks before & after tweaks to your user experience.
  • Remove or rethink ignored content.
  • Align page copy to the same words used by your visitors in their feedback.
  • See which type of imagery works best.
  • Know whether your CTAs are attracting attention.
  • Ask customers what made them nearly not convert.
  • Translate common feedback comments into FAQs.
  • Give your clients or boss proof of what works or not.
  • Challenge internal misconceptions & 'best practices'.
  • Overhaul Forms to generate more leads.
  • Restructure layout based on visitors' objections.
  • Test what content works best above the fold.
  • Understand why test pages do not beat the control.
  • Learn what content to move higher or lower on the page.
  • Uncover distracting elements that you should remove.
  • Filter out noise from unqualified user tests.
  • Speak directly to visitors before they leave the page.
  • Prioritize where to test first by identifying big opportunities.
  • Identify what new content you need to add to the page.
  • Confirm your hypothesis before creating new elements.
  • Generate new A/B test ideas.
  • Collect valuable testimonials from customers.
  • Improve your UX on different screen resolutions.

There are plenty of other ways to use Hotjar successfully to better understand your users' experiences and get their feedback, but don’t just take our word for it: over 350,000 organizations use Hotjar, and in June 2019 we were voted by our users on G2 as one of the best software companies in EMEA:

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WE’RE PROUD TO HAVE A 4.3 RATING ON G2. OF THE 120+ REVIEWS, MORE THAN 80 ARE 5 STARS. HAVE A READ!

Ready to start using Hotjar?

Get started for free today and start learning what’s happening on your website in an easy, visual way.

Free forever. Get started!
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Frequently Asked Questions about Hotjar

Hotjar works out of the box with many popular CMS, e-commerce platforms, tag managers, CRM systems, and data-handling tools. To name just a few, Hotjar can be installed via Google Tag Manager or manually on Shopify, Hubspot,  Squarespace, Wix, Wordpress, and Segment—and we’ve got installation guides for all of them in our support documentation.

Hotjar is GDPR-ready, and our service can help you understand and interpret user behavior anonymously, without personally identifying individual users. More info on our GDPR compliance page.

Yes. You can get started with our free plan which lets you collect data from up to 2,000 pageviews per day. If you need to scale the amount of data you collect, you can always opt for a paid plan.

You can add an unlimited amount of users to your Hotjar account for free in every plan. Insights are for sharing! Show your user behavior to your colleagues and we guarantee they’ll want their own account.

A single tracking code allows you to collect data from your visitors and send it back to Hotjar. Installation involves copy and pasting your unique Tracking Code within the site you would like to track. We’ve created guides to help you install the Tracking Code on various platforms that you can find here.

The Hotjar tracking code allows you to collect data from your visitors and send it back to Hotjar. When you install Hotjar, you copy and paste your unique Tracking Code within the site you would like to track. We’ve created guides to help you install the Tracking Code on various platforms that you can find here.

At Hotjar we take site performance very seriously and do everything in our power to optimize everything in the process. Hotjar's script, like most scripts and other tracking solutions, will only have a marginal, almost negligible, effect on your site's speed and performance. Hotjar does not affect your SEO. Have a read of our full support doc on this if you want more information.

Short answer: that depends.
Think of it like this: if you never learn about your users’ experiences on your site then you won’t know how to improve it. So running a few Polls, and targeting them carefully, will be a net positive for your customers’ purchase journeys and your conversions overall. We’d never advise you to overload all your pages with them—and when you do run a Poll, be highly specific in your questions to make sure it’s relevant to that user’s experience at that time. Not sure where to start? Our guide to the best website survey questions to ask your users is a good place to start.

Automatically collecting data from all pages on your site can be very expensive and data intensive. Hotjar makes it more affordable by taking an ‘on demand’ report approach. Using a Basic plan, the amount of reports you can generate is limited. On Business plans you can generate an unlimited amount of reports on an unlimited number of pages whenever you need them. This makes Hotjar more affordable and ideal for fast-moving and lean organizations since it allows for rapid changes.

Ready to start using Hotjar?

Get started for free today and start learning what’s happening on your website in an easy, visual way.

Free forever. Get started!
Hotjar-more-than-just-heatmaps
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Hotjar team

70+ Hotjarians, 20+ countries, 1 goal: to give you and your team the insights you need to create experiences your users love.