We’ve been long time devotees of the Maltese startup Hotjar, pretty much since day one. I remember going to clients with mindbogglingly detailed heatmaps and user recordings, and pretty much getting my way after that, because of course, what once was just my suspicions, now became crystal clear data.

But first, what on earth is Hotjar?

Simply put, Hotjar is an all in one (or almost all in one), suite of tools that allows website owners to visually, physically see how users behave on their website.

The tools you get include Heatmaps, Visitor Recordings, Conversion Funnels,  Form Analysis, Feedback Polls, Surveys, and User Testers Recruitment.

We don’t use all of these ourselves, and that’s our loss, however, let me briefly explain each one. Tap to expand.

Heatmaps

With heatmaps, you can begin to understand “what users want, care about and interact with on your site“.

How? Hotjar, and others before it too, do this by visually representing users’ clicks, taps, and scrolling behavior. For example, as in this heatmap of the old Systemato homepage, seen below.

systemato old website heatmap - hotjar

Voila! I now know which areas of the homepage users click most, scroll to, and move their mouse cursor towards.

For example, here’s a scroll map of a blog post on this very website.

I don’t know about you, but I see it as super helpful information to know that over 80% of visitors to that blog post scrolled past the first point in the article.

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Visitor Recordings

Wouldn’t you love to know exactly how each visitor is consuming your site, so as to check that your design actually works, and that people aren’t confused when using your site?

With Hotjar, you can. And we do. Oh hell yeah we do. For example, check out this video of a visitor to our site a few days ago. Their visit came from Sweden, lasted a little over ten minutes, and included two pages visited on the site.

Conversion Funnels

This is gold, basically. The biggest opportunity to improve your site, is by finding which pages are abandoned most.

Why? Well, because that’s evidence, first hand evidence, that that specific page is not working for the people visiting it.

Also, because these are people that you already managed to get onto your site, so they’re basically yours to lose.

For example, in this particular funnel below, we can see that only 10% of visitors to the ‘About Us’ page carry on to go to the ‘Contact’ page. That’s definitely something to be worked on if we want more users to contact us.

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So, start by identifying on which page and at which step most visitors are leaving your site, so that you know where to you need to change things around. That’s what you call, “tackling the low hanging fruit”.

Form Analysis

Hotjar analyses forms on your site. How in the hell?

Basically, if your form has five cells, Hotjar analyses when a user decides to abandon the form and not completely fill it out.

Why is this valuable? I really shouldn’t have to explain to you that if your users only fill 3 of 5 cells in your contact form, then your contact form fails at its job. You had one job dammit!

For example, check out this nightmare contact form below, which converted only 2.3% of the time. Even with the best will in the world, that couldn’t be seen as anything but dismal.

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Feedback Polls

You know, like the one in the bottom right corner of this page. Have you replied yet? Do it.

Why? So that you can actually ask your users and readers what they think of your content, your page design, your pricing, whatever. Actual user feedback is super valuable, believe me.

Surveys

Just like the dozen other survey tools out there, except it’s integrated into Hotjar so you can see results from one single place. Also, super easy to set up, as with anything else in Hotjar.

With Hotjar’s responsive surveys that work on any device, you can collect deeper insights from your customers as soon as they convert, or visitors before they abandon your page. Awesome, or what?

User Testers Recruitment

For when you need quality over sheer quantity. Use Hotjar’s User Testers Recruitment module to recruit your users for one-on-one testing and interviews. You can also motivate them to participate with custom messaging, as well as choose recruits based on their profile.

Share this. You know you want to.

So what caused the shift from being just an avid fanboy to being a Hotjar ambassador of sorts?

Well, it was our own website, this very site you’re on now.

See, when we were building this new site, we had heatmap and recording data from the old site, so we knew which pages were failing us and what aspects of which other pages were strong, helped conversions, and therefore had to be kept and improved.

That’s great, but what does it have to do with our new site?

Well, when we launched our site, that very day, we made sure Hotjar was correctly installed and tracking, and then we pushed a bunch of traffic to the site.

The traffic we sent was strategic; we boosted posts on Facebook linking to the homepage and the blog pages, which we traditionally know are common landing pages. Then we waited.

After two hours, we already had an hour and a half of user recordings to watch.

So we broke out the whisky and pressed play. The site developer and myself sat down, all smug, preparing to congratulate ourselves on a job well done.

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Before long, we had to bring up the console, roll up our sleeves, and start fixing shit.

Shit like what? Oh well, the odd and hugely embarrassing 404 error here and there. Fancy stuff we’d coded into the site that didn’t display quite perfectly. A couple of buttons that were mis-linked. And most crucially, what people did on our site, whether they flowed from page to page the way we intended them to, or not.

And for the most part, they did. We watched gleefully as users scrolled rapidly down into a blog post, pausing only to glance at headers and animated gifs, only to reach the bottom and come back down, much more slowly, as they actually read.

We saw users pausing their scrolling on the homepage, taking in the different sections and the info each presented.

Knowing that a business like ours depends on the people that staff it, we watched, heart in throat, as dozens of users hastily scrolled up after finishing a page, hovered over the menu, and clicked ‘Meet The Team’ triumphantly. At least, I like to think they clicked triumphantly. I certainly felt like I was winning.

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So, we were smart and somewhat lucky, and this website redesign appears to tick the boxes our audience requires. Isn’t that just grand huh? Better still, we have actual confirmation of it, thanks to Hotjar.

But isn’t all this a little intrusive and weird?

Not really. For a start, you can’t identify users of your site by their name, username, or anything like that.

You get the country they were visiting your site from, the time, the duration of the visit, the type and size of their device, and their browser version and operating system.

This is valuable information because it helps website owners to identify where problems may be with certain browsers and devices.

Secondly, the information Hotjar provides about users of your site is actually helpful to create a better website, by knowing which are the parts that fail users’ expectations, forcing them to leave the page, and therefore, must be fixed.

Much as I like to say that at Systemato we are ‘creating a better internet, one page at a time‘, Hotjar is also doing exactly that, and is one of the best tools we have in our arsenal.

Back to you, how can we help?

How do we propose to help you using Hotjar? How do we do this for our clients?

Easy.

Anyone can install a tool, but not everyone understands user behaviour.

We’re up to our ears in this stuff all day, so we have a bit of understanding.

Putting great tools and grey matter together normally results in intelligence we can use to figure out why your website gets 200 visits a day but all your sales come from phone calls.

Why since your recent redesign, leads from the site have fallen by half, and you’re desperate to plug the leak, because you paid a lot of money for the damn thing, but it’s just not working.

If these are the problems you’re facing, get in touch with us below.

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Author Mark Debono

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