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How to find bugs and prioritize fixes as a PM
Bugs happen. 🐞 As a product manager (PM), it’s your job to round them up, figure out which ones need addressing first, and loop in the right people to roll out fixes.
In this guide, we take you through the ways product managers (including some of our own!) find, prioritize, and fix technical errors and UX issues, so you can follow their examples and build great product experiences.
5 popular ways PMs find bugs and UX issues
There are two main approaches to finding product and website bugs: passive (i.e. letting users report them to you) and active (i.e. you go looking for them).
Here are some common ways you can combine these approaches to get a 360-degree view of the biggest issues affecting product adoption and usage.
1. Collect user feedback
If a problem is annoying enough that users create a support ticket or send you feedback, it’s definitely important enough for you to investigate.
Give users as many ways to report problems as you can, including
Your customer success team is likely already collecting support tickets (at Hotjar, we use Zendesk) and looping you in where relevant. Regularly view and tag tickets to find mission-critical bugs and quantify recurring issues that affect multiple users.
If the comments users leave are not detailed enough to give you a full understanding of an issue, combine support tickets with session recordings (see more on how to use these below) to get context about what needs fixing.
When we receive a support ticket, we use Hotjar Recordings to find that user's session with their consent. We then watch it, log the bug, and attach the recording to the ticket. This saves hours of work since we don’t have to recreate the problem itself.
Not every user is going to neatly report bugs for you, but according to Laura Wong, Product Manager at Hotjar, around 0.2% of users leave product feedback—and most of it will be negative. That might sound like a downer, but the truth is your users are making it easier for you to do your job and improve the product.
If you’re using Hotjar Feedback, your users can tag any page element alongside their rating and comments, giving you more context about what may be broken or misfunctioning.
At Hotjar, we use our own feedback buttons to collect website feedback from all visitors and product feedback from logged-in users. This data helps our PMs discover issues that contribute to customer churn, but it can also highlight problems that stop conversions from happening in the first place.
Internally, we send feedback from different parts of the site to dedicated Slack channels (e.g. product feedback goes to the #product-feedback-alignment channel). This keeps updates super relevant and helps the team discuss next steps in Slack together.
Hotjar Feedback responses sent to a Slack channel
Surveys triggered at the right point of the user journey help you discover new issues and get more context from negative quantitative ratings.
Here are some scenarios where you, as a product manager, might want to trigger a survey to find potential issues:
When users leave a negative feedback rating, e.g. Net Promoter Score® (NPS) detractors
When users churn (try our free churn survey template if you’re not sure what to ask)
When a key conversion page starts underperforming suddenly, e.g. your pricing or sign-up page
When users show signs of frustration, i.e. rage clicking or u-turning
Responses revealed and quantified the prevalence of both technical bugs, like a page freezing during download, and UX issues, like the need for more filters.
2. Review session recordings
Session recordings are video playbacks that show how real users interact with your site and product across multiple pages. Product managers use them to find issues in two main ways:
To proactively look for bugs in new roll-outs and updates
To investigate bugs flagged in support tickets and feedback
For example, George Palaigeorgiou, co-founder and Chief Product Officer at learning management system LearnWorlds, used Hotjar Recordings to find bugs and issues after rolling out a new product feature called User Roles.
When only 1.8% of users interacted with it, the product team reviewed session recordings and saw many users getting confused by the navigation and placeholder image: fixing these increased feature usage to 9%.
Here’s how to use Hotjar Recordings to find bugs quicker:
Recordings are automatically tagged with a frustration score, so you can skip straight to problem sessions
Click through to relevant recordings from other Hotjar tools, including feedback and survey responses, funnel steps, and heatmaps to get more context
Filter recordings by error, u-turn, and rage click to skip straight to relevant issues
3. Check conversion and traffic funnels
Funnels provide a zoomed-out visualization of where you’re losing users and customers, whether that’s before the point of conversion or during product usage. Think of funnels as a warning sign: they tell you where there’s a problem, but you’ll need to investigate what exactly is wrong using other bug-finding tools like session recordings and surveys.
For example, the product team at Hotjar uses funnel analysis to identify issues, boost conversions, and understand the impact of new features. Combining data from Hotjar Funnels has helped us find these issues:
When we moved to SSO, Funnels highlighted an unusual drop in conversion rate. The team then used Recordings to watch sessions of users who dropped off to pinpoint exactly where the issue was.
When we changed our sign-up flow, Funnels showed a drop in account creation conversions. We emailed a survey to users who dropped off and discovered why: people were signing up with their personal email by mistake, then again with a company one, resulting in duplicate accounts.
We’ve identified steps in our funnel that were confusing to our customers and caused them to abandon our product. We can easily identify screens that make them get lost and hesitate on what to do next, so then we can fix UX issues and keep improving for them. Every small improvement increases conversions around 10%–20%, which is really significant.
4. Track rage clicks
Rage clicks happen when a user repeatedly clicks on the same element during a session (we define it as five clicks within 500ms).
Rage clicks are a strong indicator of user frustration and easy to keep track of in Hotjar by
Viewing a rage click map to visualize aggregate frustration on any page
Filtering session recordings by rage click to see what individuals do before and after clicking in anger
Once you identify a rage-click area, you can review it to understand if page or product bugs are causing user frustration.
If you have recordings where you can see rage clicks, that speaks volumes in the same way a user test can.
5. Monitor errors
Not all users leave feedback when they encounter an error, and some may not even realize something’s wrong at all. That’s why you need to monitor product and website usage at the infrastructure level to find bugs as they show up for users.
Laura gets notified of new issues in Slack (via Hotjar’s integration), uses console tracking to see details of the error, and watches recordings to understand what happened. She then clicks to create an issue in Jira (yes, we have a Jira integration, too), which automatically attaches a link to the relevant recording to give context to the engineering team.
How to prioritize bug fixes and get issues actioned
Not every bug you find using the above methods can (or should) make it onto your list of critical fixes. Here are some ways our PMs keep track of issues, decide which ones need prioritizing, and communicate with dev teams to get things fixed.
1. Keep an archive
Every bug and issue you find needs to be logged somewhere that’s accessible and visible to everyone on your team. That way, you avoid duplicating work and quickly spot when the same issues cause problems for multiple users.
The Hotjar product team uses Jira to stay aligned and collaborate with the engineering team. We use Hotjar’s Jira integration to create issues straight from session recordings, heatmaps, console errors, feedback, survey responses, and highlights.
We also use the Hotjar Highlights feature to create Collections for related insights and add snippets from our different tools in one place to illustrate a problem or bug that needs attention.
I love using Highlights and Collections together. I see each highlight as a self-contained explanation for the case I’m making to the product team. I’ve got the video. I’ve got the tags if I need them. I’ll add comments and a thread for a response.
2. Apply a prioritization framework
Popular prioritization frameworks include
RICE: Reach, Impact, Confidence, Effort
MoSCoW: Must-have, Should-have, Could-have, Won’t-have
Kano: potential to satisfy customers vs. implementation investment
Cost of delay (CoD) analysis: how much revenue is lost by not making the change
Whichever framework you use, you need to quantify how big problems are and what it will take to fix them. That’s where it helps to have a centralized issue repository in a tool like Jira, Linear, or Hotjar Highlights so you can get input from other team members.
It’s not just about viewing a recording. It’s about sharing that recording link with a note to corroborate an issue we’re actively monitoring.
3. Share with your team
As a product owner or manager, you probably aren’t responsible for fixing bugs yourself, but it’s on you to loop in the developer or engineering teams to act.
Our developers don't talk to customers. Showing them Hotjar recordings of user sessions makes them empathetic when our users stumble, and it gives them a sense of pride when they see a user complete a task they just worked on.
Sharing insights with your dev team helps them build empathy for customer struggles, motivating them to make improvements and giving them tangible ideas for resolving bugs.
There are a couple of ways to achieve this:
Make sure you’ve added session recordings to issues in tools like Jira, Linear, or Asana (via Hotjar’s integrations) for context
Share evidence of how bugs affect users and product usage to get buy-in for changes (click the share button in Hotjar Highlights to do this)
Integrate bug-hunting into your product workflow
If you’ve read this far, you now have a good idea about how to integrate bug-hunting into your product workflow. And if you’re looking for one suite that can help you find, collect, and share bugs with your team in multiple ways, Hotjar is a great place to start.