Learn / Guides / Feedback guide
User feedback 101: the complete guide
Have you ever wished you could just ask your users what they think about your website? Get straight to the root of their behavior? Find out why they decided not to convert at the last second?
With user feedback, you can.
User feedback removes the guesswork from analyzing visitor behavior on your site and reduces the communication barrier between you and your customers. By allowing users to share their thoughts, you discover exactly what they loved (or hated) about their experience on your site—no interpretation necessary.
Read on to find out what user feedback is, why you need it to improve the user experience (UX), and how it gives you deeper insights into user behavior. And that’s just an introduction—continue exploring the other chapters in this guide for more tips on collecting, analyzing, and implementing changes based on user feedback.
What is user feedback?
User feedback is the direct collection of feedback and opinions from the people using your product, website, or service. It’s a customer-centric method to gather actionable insights from your users and get their unfiltered opinions—because what better way to find out what people think of your business than to simply ask them?
What does user feedback look like?
Most user feedback tools take the form of website widgets, email surveys, pop-ups, push notifications, and chatbots. But you can also gather valuable user feedback through user interviews and forums, or sourced on digital channels like review sites and social media platforms.
These methods are simple yet powerful ways to gauge how users interact with your website or product and learn about their experience.
The feedback you collect with these tools generally falls into two categories:
1. Proactive feedback
Proactive feedback is the feedback that you seek out from your users before they’ve contacted you themselves. You proactively encourage users to share their experiences with you as they navigate your website or interact with your product.
Proactive feedback tools include:
Proactive user feedback in action
See that little red tag on the right side of this page? 👉
The Feedback widget lets users rate their experience, write a comment, add screenshots, and leave their email addresses for follow-up communication to keep the conversation going. Users can also provide more precise feedback and contextualize their responses by highlighting specific parts of the page, bringing immediate attention to areas you can emphasize or improve.
Unlike most user feedback tools, which seek feedback after the interaction is over, Hotjar Feedback makes it easy for users to express their feelings in the moment as they run into a blocker or discover something they love.
Add Hotjar Feedback to your website and start collecting user feedback proactively.
We love Feedback because it gives us instant feedback from shoppers. It doesn’t interrupt the checkout flow, and it allows us to fully understand our shopper’s experience, in real-time. This helps us study performance trends and identify shopper concerns.
2. Reactive feedback
Reactive feedback happens when the customer responds in reaction to an experience they’ve had—usually one they have strong feelings about, good or bad. Often, reactive feedback results from an unhappy customer’s negative experience. You’ll see this feedback on social media or review platforms like G2, Yelp, or Google reviews.
Negative feedback is never fun, but it happens to everyone. How you approach it is key. Provide quick, genuine customer support and try to mitigate any damage by showing you’re listening to—and are willing to address—your customer’s pain points.
Turn a temporary speed bump into an opportunity to double down on strengthening your customer relationships and show off your brand’s principles.
But remember, reactive feedback isn't always negative. By collecting feedback after various stops along the customer journey, such as with a post-purchase survey, you give users a chance to share what went right, allowing you to bolster customer retention and identify opportunities for acquisition and conversion.
Why user feedback matters for creating a better user experience
User feedback is a direct route to hearing what people really need, so you can ensure your customers remain your business’s top priority.
3 ways user feedback tools benefit your business
User feedback is a well of inspiration for making educated website optimizations while keeping your customers at the heart of your decisions.
Here are three ways feedback tools help you tap into an amazing source of inspiration for product optimizations your customers actually want.
1. Find out what your customers really think
If you were serving your customers at a restaurant or in a physical store, they’d tell you in person whether they were enjoying their meal or having difficulty finding something on the shop floor.
User feedback tools give your customers this same ability—just digitally. Collecting their feedback is a sensible way to discover how they interact with your site or product and whether they enjoy their experience.
Collecting customer feedback empowers your customers to be more than passive users, driving them to engage with the product—and your business as a whole—on a deeper level. Even better? As they share their thoughts, you discover more about how to meet their needs.
Turning to a feedback tool like Hotjar Surveys is ideal for getting to the bottom of customer needs—and we’ve got a survey template to match every need: make use of our Net Promoter ScoreⓇ (NPS), customer satisfaction (CSAT), and Customer Effort Score (CES) surveys, or get more specific with a pricing plan or product feedback survey. You can even use AI for Surveys to generate a goal-oriented survey in seconds and glean actionable insights from every answer with an automated summary report.
On top of collecting feedback from customers who’ve completed an interaction with your business, it’s always a good idea to gather impromptu feedback that captures your users’ feelings there and then, while their experience is fresh.
As time passes, customers are often less likely to engage, even if they felt strongly about their experience while it was happening. Rather than sending out an email survey long after a customer leaves and hoping for a high response rate, you can embed a Hotjar survey anywhere on a page, targeting exact steps along the journey, or use the Hotjar Feedback widget to catch users in the moment and get 100% authentic feedback, fast.
Ultimately, engaging with the needs of people using your product at every stage creates a more human experience that makes them feel heard, respected, and connected to your business.
2. Make more intelligent optimizations
Analyzing large amounts of user behavior data and website metrics is daunting. The sheer volume of information can make it seem like your site requires an overwhelming number of updates and changes.
Assessing performance is great for inspiring potential optimizations—but it's difficult to define which updates will most benefit your customers. User feedback lets you find exactly where the work needs to be done, all while ensuring your users remain at the center of your business optimizations.
For example, imagine your website has a bug preventing the sign-up page from loading properly, causing your users to get frustrated and leave. Quantitative data like abandonment rates will show that people were leaving your site, but you could only see an obvious fix with feedback to call out the issue.
This is where user feedback tools work to minimize the communication barrier between you and your users and open up a direct line of communication so they can tell you, "Hey, I’m not happy!" This feedback is particularly helpful for UX designers, marketers, or product teams needing to assess whether an element of a page or the flow between multiple pages is used as intended.
Feedback in action
Fashion and homeware retailer Matalan used two Hotjar user feedback tools—Feedback and Surveys—to gauge customers’ initial reactions to onsite changes. The bugs they were able to spot (and fix) based on feedback resulted in a 1.23% increase in checkout conversion and a 400% return on investment (ROI) within just nine months of using Hotjar.
As Matalan’s results show, making user feedback an integral part of your product development strategy pays off. You can consult feedback to tally up and prioritize popular feature requests, and then ask for more feedback when you want to soft launch or A/B test those new features before releasing them to a broader audience.
Collecting user feedback at this stage—through formats like email surveys, ideas portals, or focus groups—is a great way to find out if you’re on the right track, or if there are still a few things you could work on.
Fixing bugs and optimizing with user research and product development centered around customer feedback opens the door to creating a more functional and inclusive website or product experience. And the happier your users are, the more likely they are to convert.
3. Get a deeper understanding of the user experience
User feedback lets you hear directly from the users about how they experience your business, so you don’t have to rely solely on analytics tools and numbers.
Assessing qualitative feedback is an excellent way to get a deeper, more empathetic understanding of your customer’s experience as they explore your website. And when their written feedback falls short, you can go into more depth by talking directly with them.
By conducting focus groups, customer interviews, or usability testing sessions with the people who matter most—your users—you remove any ambiguity about whether that new call-to-action (CTA) placement or redesigned homepage is working.
And there’s no need to break the bank and sink hours into conducting one-on-one user research anymore—tools like Hotjar Engage automate the entire research process, from recruiting to scheduling to transcribing, giving you easy access to feedback from your own users or our diverse pool of 200,000+ participants from 130+ countries and 25 industries.
User feedback tools like Engage offer broad insight into how—and why—people use your site or product. The needs and use cases of the real people you’re targeting may differ from the purpose you had in mind.
Factoring real users’ needs into your website optimizations ensures you treat your site as a living creation that doesn’t exist in stasis, but adapts based on what your customers say.
How user feedback complements other UX data
User feedback is powerful on its own, but you can enhance the insights you gather by combining them with other user behavior tools. For example, viewing session recordings of users navigating your website is a foolproof way to observe the user experience and gather valuable qualitative data. Viewing a recording of a user’s session on a page reveals things like:
Actions they took
Areas they wavered on
Elements they didn’t interact with as expected
But with recordings alone, you don't know why a user behaved a certain way. You can’t reach through the screen and say, "Hey, why aren’t you clicking the CTA we put right there?"
That’s where feedback tools come in to provide context to user behavior. Conveniently, Hotjar lets you connect website feedback and survey responses with associated recordings for an extra layer of depth into your user insights. When you get a feedback response, jump to the relevant recording to see which actions the user took before they left feedback.
With user feedback tools complementing your UX research and analysis, you’ll uncover the motivations behind actions and stay on top of what matters most: the user experience, and the reasons behind your users’ behavior.
Get right to the bottom of your users’ needs
User feedback is at the heart of deeper empathy for your customers and a more holistic understanding of why they behave the way they do. Feedback tools are among the simplest—yet most impactful—methods of collecting mutually beneficial qualitative insights that enable you to provide a human-led, customer-centric experience.
Ready to start incorporating user feedback into your optimizations? Check out Hotjar’s feedback tools to tap into the customers behind the data and gather valuable insights into the user experience.