I’ve been using Hotjar for three months now and I’ve barely scratched the surface of how powerful it is. I’ve used Google In-Page Analytics and Crazy Egg to record visitors in other projects and these tools are great but the features included in just the free Hotjar subscription are incredible.
To test the power of this tool, I created an account and linked it to this portfolio website. Setup was as easy as pasting a snippet of JS. At the time of writing this post, the free Hotjar subscription includes the ability to create heatmaps, recordings, polls, surveys and more. The free version of Hotjar limits you to 2,000 daily pageviews and 100 visitor recordings so you should fork out for the paid version if you plan to use it for any serious commercial projects.
Setting up Hotjar with a website isn’t finished until you’ve blacklisted the IP address of every mobile and desktop device you use to access the website. Otherwise every time you visit your website, you’re tampering with the analytics and skewing the tests. You can setup the blacklist under the Sites and Organization settings.
Thankfully if you forget to blacklist your devices, Hotjar provides each access point a unique 8 character user ID to help detect users that repeatedly visit the website. I figured out my ID was e8a14b66 so I sorted all site recordings by ID and deleted myself from the analytics.
Although the free version has limitations, it’s the perfect tool for testing coded prototypes, especially if you need to get quick validation on experiences. It’s ideal for small focus groups or testing with stakeholders as it gives you real-time stats and recordings. The commercial version is well worth the investment if you want to deploy an easy-to-use testing suite on a live production site.