My new favorite tool to improve websites and web apps is Hotjar. Since it’s new, here’s the lowdown on what Hotjar can do for you and why we use it at Second Form.

What is HotJar?

HotJar is an analytics and feedback tool. But that’s not amazing. There’s tons of tools out there that does that. Well, that’s exactly the problem. HotJar combines heatmaps, visitor session playback, feedback and exit polls, online surveys, conversion funnel analysis, form abandonment analysis, and user tester recruiting in one product. Phew! That’s a ton of stuff.

So let’s take a look at each so you understand what you can do with this system.


Heatmaps help you see how things like how far someone scrolls down one of your website pages. This is useful information if you’ve ever wondered how engaging your content is. So if you have a landing page with a call to action placed at the bottom of the page and you’re not getting conversions, this tool will help you see how many people are making it to the call to action in the first place. So maybe it’s not your offer, maybe it’s the content on the landing page.

Coincidentally, that’s why you see calls-to-action buttons in several areas of a long page rather than just at the bottom.

It also easily shows where people have clicked on the website using the same hot to cold color range. So the links that have the most clicks are white hot, while the ones that have the fewest are blue and cold. This is helpful when you want to see at a glance where users engage on a particular website page the most.

Visitor session playback

This is easily one of the most fun tools in the system. We started recording visitor sessions using ClickTale years ago. And now HotJar has combined that ability with all their other tools, making it an attractive option.

With visitor session playback, you see a list of user sessions that you can watch where the user moved their mouse, scrolled their page to in the browser window, and from page to page, the journey they took while they visited your website. It's akin to watching over someone's shoulder as they browse your website.

Obviously, this has huge implications if you’re working to improve the user experience of your entire website or just one screen. The thing I like the most is I can see how quickly they go through a specific page in real time. So I can see if a user reads something, scrolled, then backed the page up to re-read something. Or if they scrolled through really quickly, then scrolled back up to do another pass through. Or, if they landed on a page and went idle for 10 minutes. Your analytics will show you they spent 10 minutes on the page and you’re thinking they’re meticulously reading every word, but in reality they went to grab a diet Coke and closed the window as soon as they got back.

By watching recorded user sessions, you can see just how quickly many people travel through your website. It’s so much faster than you’d imagine. If everyone flies through a particularly important message, you can work to add stopping power to that section and split test it out to see how that changes user behavior.

Polls, surveys, and user testing recruiting

Qualitative feedback is one of the most important pieces of information you need as a business owner. You have to assess if you’re meeting the expectations of your user. You have to effectively communicate your value prop.

We’ve done this for several clients using systems that gathered feedback through polls and surveys exclusively. HotJar combined that into their all-in-one tool and the user experience is really good. Other tools we’ve used are cumbersome. So far, HotJar has the experience dialed in.

You get many options when setting up polls and surveys. Like where and when they pop up, and they support multiple languages. And now the Hotjar system allows you to ask multiple questions in a row instead of a single question. Fancy!

User testing recruiting is also part of the package. We've not used this so far, but I can see how valuable this will be for organizations that are considering a website redesign. If you learn from your current website, you'll be in a much better place to build your new one.

Conversion funnel form abandonment analysis

If you’ve built a funnel to guide a user to a conversion then knowing where someone drops off is very powerful. There’s a lot of tools out there that do this job. HotJar has their version and it’s pretty easy to setup and gain insights from.

One of our clients has a long form that serves as the conversion point. To set up an abandonment analysis, all I had to do was enter the URL of the page the form is on and it gathered the fields and started recording how many people entered the page, and for those that started filling out the form, how far they reached.

We’re seeing where people are having a difficult time and rethinking what fields are required based on this information. It really helps to see what’s happening on your forms.

Same goes for a series of pages. For instance, if you have a shopping cart that walks the user through a series of pages, you can measure the process rigidly to figure out where potential blockers are and test concepts to fix them.

Final thoughts

There’s a lot of tools you can use to help you collect data and turn it into insights needed to improve your website user experience. HotJar is a great solution for businesses because it combines a bunch of individual tools in one and it gives you the ability to rapidly improve your website based on what users want.

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