Comparison of Plerdy, Yandex.Metrica, and Hotjar Heatmaps

01 April, 2019
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Сравнение карт кликов Plerdy, Яндекс.Метрики и Hotjar

The Plerdy team has visited numerous exhibitions and conferences. On some of them, we were guests, on other – participants. We always summarize the results and assess the findings of every event. Among other things, we also create a rating of the most popular questions. Usually, it includes 10-12 options.

Here are the most common questions:

  1. Why do I need a heatmap at all?
  2. Can a heatmap substitute Google Analytics?
  3. Can I record user screens with the help of a heatmap?
  4. On which stage should I connect a heatmap?
  5. Is it difficult to read the results of a heatmap?

At the end of the year, we reviewed all collected ratings. This helped us to see which question was the most frequently asked. Surprisingly, it was “Why are you better than your competitors?”

By the way, not everyone who asked this question could name our competitors. Some of them mentioned the services that have similar functions at first sight but, actually, complete different tasks or even named the tools that are no longer active.

Also, a part of online marketers have asked a more precise question like “Well, for example, how Plerdy is better than Hotjar or Yandex.Metrica?”. In such cases, it was clear that they already knew the pros and cons of heatmaps and expected some practical cases.

Since conferences and exhibitions don’t give enough time to explain the differences between Plerdy, Hotjar, and Yandex.Metrica heatmaps in detail, we have prepared a separate article. It includes examples of how each of these heatmap websites works in the same situation. All tests were conducted on a separate resource – demo.plerdy.com.

This article will be interesting to anyone who understands what is usability and why websites need to be analyzed with heatmaps. Moreover, it will really come in handy for those who already run usability audits.

CONTENTS

  1. The speed of data updates
  2. Recording clicks on dynamic elements
  3. Data on empty clicks
  4. Recording clicks from smartphones
  5. Scroll heatmap
  6. How clicks are displayed after design changes
  7. Screen recording of user behavior
  8. How are heatmaps displayed
  9. Which Plerdy’s solutions are missing on the Yandex.Metrica heatmap website?
  10. Which Plerdy’s solutions are missing on the Hotjar heatmap website?

Conclusion

1. The Speed of Data Updates

Let’s start with the comparison of the speed of data updates.

To see a heatmap report in the Yandex.Metrica dashboard, you will have to wait from 3 to 10 minutes. During this time, the data is recorded and processed to display the following result:

Яндекс.Метрика

The screenshot shows the coordinates of clicks and relative temperature that corresponds to the frequency of clicks on the element compared to other clicks on the page.

Displaying data in the Hotjar dashboard takes approximately as much time:

 Hotjar

In the Plerdy dashboard, the data of each page is displayed in real time regardless of its volume. So you can see clicks right after they are made:

Plerdy

Here the result is associated with an element (in this case, the tag). When you hover it, additional statistics opens: the number of clicks the element got compared to other elements on the page and the number of unique session clicks.

2. Recording clicks on dynamic elements

A lot of websites use dynamic elements, such as drop-down menus, pop-up forms, interactive objects, zoom after a cursor hover, etc.

Let’s compare Plerdy and Yandex.Metrica based on the example of a filter pop-up which opens after you click a floating button:

 PopUp формы

We need to check the clicks inside the pop-up form (to see which filters are the most popular), so we go to the form and make several clicks on different filters.

Here is the heatmap report of Yandex.Metrica:

 Яндекс.Метрика PopUp формы

As you see, it displays the clicks on the main part of the page instead of the pop-up form that covers the whole page.

Now let’s open a similar report in Plerdy:

Plerdy PopUp формы

This report shows all the clicks on the filters.

Another type of dynamic content is text shown after hovering.

наведения курсором

In the Yandex.Metrica dashboard, the click data looks like this:

Яндекс.Метрика наведения курсором

Let’s see how the same information is displayed in Plerdy:

This tool has collected 31 clicks on the text that is only displayed after hovering.

Note that in this case, users clicked the text, not the image. If the text wasn’t displayed (e.g. a user just didn’t hover the element), no clicks will be shown.

plerdy_clicks

We have conducted a similar experiment in Hotjar. We have gone to a website page with several dynamic elements, all of which are opened with a click:

Hotjar наведения курсором

As a result, the clicks on the elements (buttons) are recorded, but everything that happened next isn’t (e.g. opening of a pop-up form, filter selection, etc.).

3. Data On Empty Clicks

Online marketers and UX specialists who have ever conducted usability audits know what is an empty click. This is an accidental click made outside of the functional sections of a website. They are very difficult to interpret.

For example, in this part of the website, we have made several clicks that can definitely be considered empty:

Информация о “пустых” кликах

Let’s check a report in Yandex.Metrica heatmaps:

Яндекс.Метрика Информация о “пустых” кликах

You can see the empty clicks.

Now, we will try to open the same report but on the screen with a different resolution:

Яндекс.Метрика Информация о “пустых” кликах

The click data has considerably shifted to the side. If a UX specialist has the same screen resolution, they can make a wrong conclusion about the CTR of the element.

Here is the same report opened on the third device with a screen resolution different from the previous two:

Яндекс.Метрика Информация о “пустых” кликах

The dots of clicks have shifted even more.

In the Plerdy dashboard, the results are displayed based on another principle. The clicks with no target action or intent are by default considered unimportant and not reflected:

Plerdy Информация о “пустых” кликах

You can also come across empty clicks in Hotjar.

For example, while testing its dashboard in a mobile website version we have noticed a click aside:

Hotjar Информация о “пустых” кликах

This click is useless since the action (in this case, several clicks in a row) was most probably accidental. It’s not a problem for a small website. Yet a serious website with huge traffic is an absolutely different story. If several thousands of users intentionally or unintentionally click a blind spot (a zone outside the functional area of a website) or another place where clicks seem to make no sense, such data will have almost no value.

For instance, this data doesn’t allow making any conclusion:

Hotjar Информация о “пустых” кликах

The main goal of Plerdy is to be a convenient tool for perfecting websites.

Hence, its heatmaps show the clicks on the elements that make up a website. Such information will be helpful to specialists.

The next example proves the importance of this nuance. We intentionally click in the parts of a page where these clicks don’t do anything (in the screenshot, these places are highlighted with red squares):

Информация о “пустых” кликах

Now take a look at the results in Plerdy:

Plerdy Информация о “пустых” кликах

Since the clicks didn’t lead to a target action, they are automatically not displayed.

On the other hand, Hotjar displays them:

Hotjar Информация о “пустых” кликах

And adds to the total number of website clicks:

Hotjar Информация о “пустых” кликах

4. Recording Clicks From Smartphones

Recording website clicks made on mobile devices is the most important part of usability audits. A lot of fields get over 50% of traffic from smartphones.

Let’s compare reports in different services based on the clicks on a responsive website version. For example, we click this element:

Запись кликов со смартфонов

After opening a report in Yandex.Metrica, we see that the clicks are recorded but not properly segmented. Although they were made on the responsive website version, the data looks like the users interacted with the main version:

YandexMetrica Запись кликов со смартфонов

Even if you go to other pages of the responsive version, the report will show these clicks:

YandexMetrica Запись кликов со смартфонов

As you see, the coordinates of absolutely unrelated clicks, which were never made on this element, by mistake shifted to this page.

Generally, Yandex.Metrica isn’t oriented at configuring and analyzing the behavior of smartphone users. After opening the mode for mobile devices in a browser, you’ll see:

YandexMetrica Запись кликов со смартфонов

In the next window, we open a report generated by Plerdy:

Plerdy Запись кликов со смартфонов

Even when you go to other pages of the adaptive website version, the displayed data corresponds to clicks:

Plerdy Запись кликов со смартфонов

The dashboard also shows the ratio of clicks made on different device types:

plerdy clicks mobile

To conduct a full-fledged usability audit, it’s extremely important to segment the audience by device type. Thus, the data on clicks on smartphones and PCs must be collected separately.

Let’s compare two screenshots which only show segmentation for mobile devices.

In Plerdy, the navigation element with the filters hasn’t collected clicks on smartphones:

plerdy clicks filter

Whereas Yandex.Metrica shows us that somebody clicked the page:

YandexMetrica Запись кликов со смартфонов

The thing is that the Yandex.Metrica report just mixes the clicks from mobile devices and PCs. This element has a high CTR but on the main website version.

Let’s analyze another case. We have made several clicks on an iPhone to check the result.

Yandex.Metrica doesn’t display anything:

YandexMetrica Запись кликов со смартфонов

Here is the same page but with the results displayed in Plerdy heatmap reports:

plerdy mobile clicks

The next case clearly shows inaccuracies in Hotjar reports. The testing was made with the help of an iPhone.

The peculiarity of the tested website is that the dynamic menu opens by default. To continue, you need to close a drop-down window.

Hotjar captures only the first screen (opened with the drop-down menu), and adds on it the clicks made on the very website.

Here users have to figure out the nature of the clicks:

Hotjar Запись кликов со смартфонов

Just close the pop-up, and you will understand what the collected clicks are related to. Below is the Plerdy heatmap:

Plerdy Запись кликов со смартфонов

As you see, the pop-up overlaps the website content, which is most probably the error on the very website. Hotjar displays clicks based on the first screenshot and piling the data, whereas Plerdy shows everything in real time.

Also, if you slightly scroll the page in Hotjar, the result will be as following:

Hotjar Запись кликов со смартфонов

The clicks are displayed, but you don’t see the elements they are related to. It’s because Hotjar uses screenshots. So if during the page loading the menu is covered with another element – the heatmap will be inaccurate and unclear.

5. Scroll Heatmap

Scroll heatmap helps to define how deep users scroll pages and where they click. This solution is a combination of click heatmaps and scroll maps.

Here how it looks in Plerdy:

plerdy scroll map

All data is instantly segmented by device type. Every page consists of 5 main segments. You can check the number of clicks within the selected segment in real time (including the clicks from different traffic sources).

Yandex.Metrica and Hotjar don’t offer such a solution.

6. How Clicks Are Displayed After Design Changes

Perhaps every online marketer or UX specialist that uses Yandex.Metrica heatmap website for audits sometimes faces the situation when a part of the information is lost. That’s why click heatmaps have become an additional rather than the main tool for usability audits.

Let’s see how you may lose data.

We will test the button that opens a filter:

Plerdy фильтр

Let’s delete it. In Plerdy heatmaps, a click counter will automatically disappear:

Plerdy фильтр

On the other hand, in the Yandex.Metrica report, in addition to the data on the deleted object some other information disappears.

Here are the places where clicks are concentrated (before the deletion):

YandexMetrica фильтр

The result after the main element was deleted:

YandexMetrica фильтр

Hotjar has a similar problem.

To see how the heatmap works, we select a website element that is going to be deleted:

Plerdy Как показываются клики когда был изменен дизайн

We delete it and check the result in the Plerdy dashboard:

Plerdy Как показываются клики когда был изменен дизайн

In Hotjar, the data is displayed without taking into account the changes:

Hotjar Как показываются клики когда был изменен дизайн

We have also come across another issue that makes the report inaccurate.

The Hotjar report on the clicks on the responsive website version includes the clicks that were actually made on the main version (for PCs):

Hotjar Как показываются клики когда был изменен дизайн

The reason for such inaccuracies is the problem with processing data from different screen resolutions. As a result, specialists may face the situation when click coordinates shift.

For example, we made clicks in 2 zones:

Как показываются клики когда был изменен дизайн

And here is how Hotjar shows them:

Hotjar Как показываются клики когда был изменен дизайн

7. Screen Recording of User Behavior

A popular question about the functionality of Plerdy is related to visitor screen recording.

In Yandex.Metrica, this function is provided by a webvisor – a tool that records a video of every session. Online marketers and UX specialists know about such a solution but don’t usually use it. Why?

Everything depends on the actual traffic to a website. If you have 10 users per day, the number of videos will be relatively small. You can easily watch them to detect anomalies in user behavior. It’s much more difficult to analyze such information when traffic reaches several thousands (or even dozens and hundreds or thousands) of users per month. You will waste a lot of time watching the videos or just limit yourself to several recordings.

The situation becomes even tougher when a session lasts for one minute or longer. To view 1000 one-minute videos, you’ll need 16 hours (or 2 working days)…

Obviously, the processing of video recordings makes usability audits more complex and time-consuming.

The Plerdy dashboard helps to process large arrays of information with these two solutions:

1. The Sequence of Clicks function.

Plerdy Функция “Последовательность кликов"

This function shows which element was clicked first, second, third, and so on:

Plerdy Функция “Последовательность кликов"

2. The display of all clicks on similar pages. For example, you can view all clicks on a product card page. Since the design of all product cards within one website is similar, we can see how visitors interact with them (this function also helps to detect the least clicked elements on similar pages). The function is available to the Premium plan subscribers.

8. How Are Heatmaps Displayed

Every tool has a different type of click reports. Online marketing and design beginners usually don’t pay attention to this. However, after you start working with reports, their design becomes really important.

For example, if you decide to use a heatmap offered by Hotjar, you will get a screenshot of the page with a heatmap layer added on top:

Hotjar Способ показа тепловых карт

This solution doesn’t allow free navigation between the pages of an analyzed website.

The click heatmap in Yandex.Metrica works in a similar way – the layer with the results is added over the main website version.

In Plerdy, you navigate between the pages online and the data is displayed in real time. Just turn on a sidebar, to display a heatmap:

Plerdy Способ показа тепловых карт

9. Which Plerdy’s Solutions Are Missing on the Yandex.Metrica Heatmap Website?

1. Yandex.Metrica doesn’t segment scroll data by device type:

Яндекс.Метрике нет сегментации

Such segmentation is crucial to understand heatmap data correctly. Remember that mobile traffic is constantly growing.

2. Yandex.Metrica doesn’t segment traffic by direct visits:

В Яндекс.Метрике отсутствует возможность сегментирования трафика

Does this mean that the audience which visits a website directly (through an exact website address) cannot be analyzed? Or is this data included in one of the listed categories? Well, it’s hard to tell for sure.

10. Which Plerdy’s Solutions Are Missing on the Hotjar Heatmap Website?

1. A calendar for tracking clicks for the selected time period. In case you need a report for a certain period of time, you won’t be able to generate it in Hotjar.

The Plerdy dashboard has a special panel where you can select the time period during which the data was collected:

Каких решений Plerdy не найти

In addition to filtering data in the dashboard, you can also filter the collected clicks while navigating a website. Just choose the necessary period on the working panel, and the website pages will display clicks made during this time.

2. Hotjar only generates heatmaps for the pages that were selected for tracking. This means that after the script was installed on a website, you need to specify on which pages you want to collect clicks and record scrolls. At the same time, you can indicate the maximum number of page displays during which the data is recorded.

Plerdy automatically records clicks on all pages. You just have to place the script.

3. In Hotjar, you cannot freely navigate between website pages to see collected clicks. All information is shown as a separate layer added on the top of a page screenshot.

In Plerdy, you can switch between pages to analyze a website in real time.

CONCLUSION

Obviously, it’s not always appropriate to compare Yandex.Metrica, Hotjar, and Plerdy. Yandex.Metrica is an analytics system, Hotjar is currently more focused on the development of a feedback widget, whereas Plerdy perfects click heatmaps that may be equally useful for an online marketer, UX specialist, or SEO expert.

In Yandex.Metrica, a click heatmap is an additional feature among other report options available for analysis. Hotjar has started with heatmaps but later switched attention to other useful tools.

Whereas Plerdy heatmaps (click, scroll, and hover) is a separate product which is constantly developed by the whole team. As a result, in addition to more accurate data, Plerdy also provides a greater variety of reports on user behavior. You can check the full list of features in a separate post.

Of course, users and experts in the listed tools are the ones to decide. So leave your comments and offers right under this post. We are curious to know what you think about the strengths and weakness of these services.

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