Step 1: Install Hotjar

Karl Reitzig
3 min readApr 5, 2023
Looking through binoculars  to see the details.
Photo by mostafa meraji on Unsplash

Understanding how our users behave is essential for creating more successful and user-centred products by helping us identify their needs, pain points, and potential opportunities for improvement.

In this article, I will explain why I believe Hotjar should be one of the first tools to install on any web project and how it can help various disciplines like UX designers, marketers, or product owners to get both qualitative and quantitative feedback about their websites and web apps.

“Actions speak louder than words”

There are many ways to learn about a user’s sentiments, including tools like surveys. We can even predict their experiences through techniques like Heuristic Evaluations. But what people actually do—their behaviour—is the only way to get a reliable and unbiased look into their experiences.

We can use UX research techniques like usability testing to learn about their behaviours and experience on a platform, but this is often very expensive and difficult to conduct regularly.

That’s where Hotjar comes in! It is a simple and versatile user analytics tool that helps teams understand what their users are doing and experiencing on their web platforms on a continuous basis.

Let's take a look at what Hotjar has to offer to help us start learning about our users:

Hotjar Features

Screenshot of a heat map on the Hotjar software for Karl Reitzig’s portfolio website.
  1. Hotjar’s heatmaps are one of its most popular features. They allow you to see where every user who visits your website or web app is clicking, scrolling, and hovering to analyze if users can find what they are looking for or identify any issues that might hinder engagement.
  2. Session recordings are another useful feature of Hotjar. They allow you to see how users are interacting with your website or app in real-time by recording their interactions on the platform, almost like a usability test! This can be particularly helpful for identifying usability issues and for getting a better understanding of how users are navigating your site.
  3. Surveys and feedback polls allow you to gather qualitative and quantitative feedback directly from users to learn about their experience on your platform. Hotjar’s survey tools are extremely dynamic and also provide templates and analytics features to make this feature accessible to your whole team.
  4. User segmentation can also help you get much richer insights by enabling you to use your database or Google Analytics platforms to track insights for very specific user groups through various variables like identity, location, subscription status, etc.
  5. Sharing insights and recordings with stakeholders and team members can make your findings easier to understand and improve stakeholder buy-in.

Things to consider before choosing Hotjar


  • Hotjar captures data on both mobile and desktop platforms.
    Note: Some features like the mouse movement heatmaps can only work through desktop hardware.
  • Team members can easily be added to a project with various levels of access.
  • There is a wealth of engaging training material available on the Hotjar website, with a free version to experiment on.


  • Hotjar only works on the web.

“Hotjar is not compatible with mobile apps. It is currently only compatible with websites and web-based applications.”

  • Conclusions drawn from observing user behaviour on heat maps are speculative in nature and need further validation to draw reliable conclusions.
  • You need access to the source code to add the Hotjar software to each page you want to track.

By leveraging its various features, Hotjar can be a valuable tool for gaining a better understanding of our users.

However, it is important to remember that Hotjar is just one tool among many…

To obtain a complete and reliable picture of our users’ experiences, we should use Hotjar in combination with other UX research methods, such as user interviews and usability testing.

In conclusion, Hotjar is an easy-to-use, versatile, and affordable solution for getting started with user research and improving the user experience.

By continually analyzing and optimizing user behaviour with tools like Hotjar, we can gain a competitive advantage in creating successful and satisfying products.

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Karl Reitzig

I’m a South African UX designer sharing my thoughts on digital design and tech.