TechAir

Give Visitors What They Want: Website Heatmapping with Hotjar vs. Microsoft Clarity

In this post, we’ll compare and contrast Hotjar and Microsoft Clarity, and discuss why heatmaps are important. (We’ll also reveal which heatmap product we use at TechAir Group at the end of the article. If you’re in hurry, scroll down and check that section out.)

If you’re looking to dive deep into user behavior on your website, this article will help you make a decision, based on our experience with heatmap tools and what functions they offer

For businesses whose websites serve as a key or main point of contact for customers, one truth is universal: In the wild, users almost never interact with site design as intended. That’s not a problem in itself – every user is different, after all – but it does present an area for learning and optimization

Fortunately, there are analytics tools to help designers and website owners decipher these user patterns. They’re called Heatmaps, and they turn user engagement into visual representations.

What are heatmaps?

Put simply, a heatmap is a visual representation of what users do on your website. Heatmaps render an image of any page you track, and use color values to display the user’s mouse clicks and scrolls.

As shown in the image below, the more users click or engage with something on the page – a button, a link, etc. – the brighter the color it is. Scrolls are also tracked, delineated by a red (high) to blue (low) gradient.

This information is invaluable for webmasters and site owners. The visual depiction of user engagement presents what aspects of your site users see clearly, and what areas are ripe for optimization. Some apps go further, allowing access to recordings of each user’s session. These recordings display every users’ mouse trails, clicks, pages referred from, page visits, and pauses, and even demographic data like country and browser information.

Most heatmap products are dashboard-based. Form the dashboard, you can see data at-a-glance, organize data as you see fit, and even share data with select team members to aid in collaborative work sessions.

Why are heatmaps important?

Most websites track user engagement through basic analytics tracking applications, namely Google Analytics. The data these apps provide is vital, no doubt, but in terms of understanding where your site needs improvement, it only scratches the surface.

If you’re tracking your website through Google Analytics (and you should be), you already know how much traffic your site gets per day.

But let’s say that, one day, you notice a sharp increase in traffic to a peripheral page on your site, and you know this page is accessible via several links from your homepage. How are users getting to this page? What links are they clicking, specifically? It’s this depth of data that leads you to a better product.

Heatmaps help you to make optimization decisions based on how users interact with your website. They help you win your users’ engagement, and allow you to make decisions that serve them better.

If you’re still not convinced on the value of heatmaps, don’t take our word for it; the Internet is littered with case studies like these, proof of the clear importance of heatmaps:

Heatmap Comparison: Hotjar vs. MS Clarity

Now that we know what heatmaps are and why they’re important, let’s move forward to the application comparison.

What is Hotjar

Of the more than 50 heatmap tools available today, Hotjar is among the most trusted. It’s used by 900,000 organizations in more than 180 countries and is one of the most user-friendly options on the market.

 

Features & Benefits for using Hotjar

Hotjar offers everything we’ve discussed to this point: heatmaps for mouse movements including clicks and scrolls, session recordings with mouse trails and pauses, and basic demographic and analytics data. All heatmaps and session recordings are saved for 365 days.

Hotjar offers both free and paid plans, but the free plan allows unlimited users. With Hotjar, you can accommodate your whole team. Opt for the paid, or “Business” plans, and you’ll get access to training with Hotjar specialists, the option to remove Hotjar branding from reports, and what Hotjar calls Identify API, which allows for more granular data segmenting.

One unique offering from Hotjar is its feedback widget, available on both free and Business plans. This widget can be embedded on your site to collect user feedback through a rating and form system.

Related: A complete tour of Hotjar

Pros

Cons

Hotjar Tools, Support, and Education

We believe application support is the most important element for any tool. Hotjar offers multiple ways to educate and train their users, a few of which we’ve provided below:

What is Microsoft Clarity?

A relative newcomer to heatmap stage, Microsoft introduced Clarity in October 2020. Clarity offers much of the same data reporting and recording that Hotjar does, and makes it available in an analytical dashboard. It also records certain JavaScript errors, dead clicks, and user inactivity on your website.

MS Clarity holds one key advantage over Hotjar, and it’s a big one – Clarity is completely, entirely free. There are no paid plans whatsoever, and all users have the same access.

 

Features & Benefits for using Microsoft Clarity

MS Clarity offers heatmaps for clicks and scrolls, user session recordings, and basic demographic and analytics data. It goes a bit deeper than Hotjar in some areas, providing information on dead clicks, “rage clicks”, excessive scrolling, and JavaScript errors.

The tool is still under development and constantly improving. Still, it’s free to use. You can install MS Clarity on your website and start tracking user behavior in minutes.

Related: A complete tour of MS Clarity

Clarity Pros

Clarity Cons

MS Clarity Tools, Support, and Education

As a Microsoft product, there’s no shortage of support content available to users. We’ve listed a few below:

The Conclusion

Hotjar

Hotjar is an established brand with a trusted product. However, good things come at a price. While Hotjar does offer a basic free plan with enough features to get you going, most businesses will want to spring for a paid plan.

If yours is an established business with plenty of traffic, Hotjar is what you need. This is especially true if you’ve spent any money on display or other digital advertising, as it can help maximize advertising ROI. And again, since Hotjar’s free plans are more than sufficient for many, a trial period can’t hurt.

MS Clarity

As mentioned earlier, MS Clarity is new and has a few growing pains to work out. It lacks some functionality – namely the option to collect direct feedback from visitors – but it’ll provide the insights you need to make information to make data-backed decisions website improvements.

All that being said, Clarity is always improving, and it has the potential to capture significant market share in the future. As a no-cost solution from a giant like Microsoft, it’s the preeminent option for businesses with limited web design staff or budgets.

Bonus: What We Use at TechAir Group, and Why.

TechAir Group is currently a happy customer of Hotjar. That probably won’t change anytime soon; we can’t risk losing valuable data or features in a migration to Clarity, as it’s still under development.

When we first looked into website heatmapping, we compared the features, support, and pricing of Hotjar with several providers not mentioned in this article. (At this time, MS Clarity didn’t exist.) We took the plunge with Hotjar and we don’t regret it. We’ll keep our eyes on MS Clarity and update this article as new updates come available. In the meantime, keep your eyes on our social media accounts for updates and valuable information. You can click here to follow us on LinkedIn and Facebook.


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