featured image for hotjar alternative article by Toma Kanyte

Hotjar Alternative: Is Eye Tracking Better than Mouse Tracking?

It’s particularly hard nowadays to get someone to visit your website, with so many ads and marketing campaigns from competitors vying for your users’ attention. To make it even harder, when a visitor ends up coming to your website, you’ll have a hard time keeping them interested long enough.

Statistics show that a staggering 94% of the first impressions that a visitor has with your brand comes from your website’s design. Because of that, a full 89% will abandon your website to shop with a competitor if you provide a poor experience.

Needless to say – your website design is crucial for converting website visitors into buyers. But how can you ensure that your site design does what it’s intended to do? 

This is exactly when companies look to user testing–but this can take days or weeks of setup, testing, correcting and repeating. For smaller businesses, the costs will be prohibitive as well.

Luckily, we’re in a golden era of digital marketing, and practical solutions like heatmaps and website design analytics are more than capable of showing companies how website visitors interact with their brand.

At this point, many brands turn to Hotjar. Hotjar uses mouse tracking to see how website visitors interact with the site, helping companies understand which part of their design works and which parts need tweaking.

However, there are Hotjar alternatives that can help do this in a faster and more efficient way.

The Hotjar alternative

While there are lots of benefits to using Hotjar’s mouse tracking, it may not provide the most accurate means of understanding people’s behavior on your website. 

In fact, some Hotjar alternatives like Attention Insight use a different approach to understand how your design impacts visitor behavior. But in order to understand why solutions like Attention Insight have benefits over Hotjar (and many Hotjar alternatives), we’ll need to first understand the difference between mouse tracking (Hotjar’s method) and eye tracking (Attention Insight’s method).

Mouse tracking vs eye tracking – what’s the difference?

There are a few ways to create heatmaps that show how users behave on your website. Hotjar uses mouse tracking, which tracks where visitors click or hover their mouse.

Source: https://help.hotjar.com/hc/en-us/articles/115011867048-Types-of-Heatmaps

Attention Insight, on the other hand, uses eye tracking, which directly shows where people actually look when they visit your site.

But to be more accurate, Attention Insight uses AI-based eye tracking that produces what’s known as “attention heatmaps”—the parts of your website that gains the most attention.

hotjar alternative attention insight heatmap example

The “AI-based” part of their eye tracking solution is key here. Real eye tracking, using real humans, can take weeks to produce results and the costs can be quite high. Instead, Attention Insight uses an algorithm based on deep learning and trained on data from real eye tracking studies. 

The algorithm has learned which visuals people look at by analyzing images with eye tracking data, mimicking human vision with a 90-94% accuracy.

So with all that being said, what’s the main difference between the two? With mouse clicks and hovers, you still need to make that correlation between mouse movements and eye movements. 

Unfortunately, this doesn’t look too strong: a 2010 study by Google showed that there was very little correlation between mouse movements and eye tracking:

  • 6% of people showed some vertical correlation between mouse movement and eye trackingwhich means that 94% showed no correlation;
  • 19% of people showed some horizontal correlation between mouse movement and eye trackingmeaning 81% with no correlation;
  • 10% hovered over a link and then continued to read around the page looking at other things.

With eye tracking, you don’t need to make that bridgeyou simply get the data of where people are looking.

Another important difference is that Attention Insight’s algorithm doesn’t need to collect any data, observe users, or be added to your system or website. This makes it extremely easy to set up and use, with results available within a few minutes.

Hotjar vs. Attention Insight: the crucial features

Hotjar and Attention Insight have a lot of features that businesses can use to understand how their websites can impact conversions or other user behaviors.

While Hotjar and Attention Insight don’t have direct 1:1 features that we can compare with any real sense of logic, there are parts of each tool that can be addressed.

Primarily, in analyzing user response to your pages, Hotjar offers:

  • Behavioral tracking to determine where users scroll and tap;
  • Heatmaps to show where users interact with your page, meaning where they scroll, click, move their mouse to, and spend time reading;
  • Scroll maps that show where users scroll to the most;
  • Session recordings that record how users interact with your page.

These are varying features that can help provide you with insights into how people engage with your page. However, as mentioned above, this is all based on what a user does—where they click or scroll—but it doesn’t show you where a user looks.

Hotjar alternative Attention Insight does just that. Its AI-powered eye-tracking can identify the parts of your page or design that grabs the most (and least) attention. 

More specifically, Attention Insight allows its users to set manual or automatic Areas of Interest and gauge what percentage of interest it actually gets:

In general, there are a few use cases here:

  1. You can check your design for visual hierarchy, which will allow you to see if the elements you prioritized as the most important are actually those that are grabbing the most attention;
  2. After you understand where the most attention is going, you can increase the visibility of the more important design elements;
  3. You can find any design elements that are causing conversion problems (such as having two CTAs too close together, making it hard for a user to choose) and then fix those issues.

Beyond that, Attention Insight offers its users a Clarity score that shows how clear a given page is to a new user. It then compares the clarity of your design with the top sites (according to Alexa rankings) so that you can quickly see how you compare to your competition.

In terms of pricing, both Hotjar and Attention Insight offer free plans or trials. Attention Insight gives users a 14-day free trial when they sign up, which should be adequate to see how the tool works for their brands.

Hotjar’s free version, known as Basic, gives its users up to 3 concurrent heatmaps and a maximum of 300 concurrent recordings. 

Comparing Hotjar and Attention Insight heat maps: an example

Let’s look at some examples where Hotjar is used to analyze the same page using three different heatmaps and how that compares to Attention Insight’s analysis.

click map hotjar alternative

As you can see, Hotjar’s clickmap shows some pretty sparse results, as the user is clicking on a few things–but not showing a lot of activity.

Next up we have the mouse movement tracking:

mouse movement heatmap hotjar alternative

This one is more populated with activity, and there are some signs of user interest in the yellow-red zones. 

Lastly, we have the scroll map, that shows to which depth a user is most likely to scroll:

Scroll heatmap generated by Hotjar

This can be useful, but doesn’t offer particularly unique insights since the concept of the top-of-the-fold being the most visible is core to designing high-performing webpages. 

While these three separate heat maps present different types of insights, they still fall short since they don’t really show in any comprehensive sense what the user is most likely to look at

And that’s probably what you want to know – which parts of the page catches the reader’s attention the most. And, in line with that, is it the part of the page that I wanted to be the most catchy?

Attention Insight’s analysis of the same page shows more useful information:

attention heatmap example for hotjar alternative and heatmap articles

As you can see, the page is clearly separated into the various aspects of the page: the logo, the top-menu CTA, the headline, description, top-of-the-fold CTA, the background image, and so on. Then, you can clearly see which of these parts grabs the most attention.

This makes it clear for you to see what works, what doesn’t, and what you need to fix in order to get the conversions you want.

And all of that with just one image.

When to use AI-based eye tracking

Now that we understand the fundamental differences between Hotjar’s mouse tracking and the Hotjar alternatives like Attention Insight, there are many cases in which AI-based eye tracking can be the most beneficial for your business. 

Since eye movement data is a better measure of user interaction (compared to mouse movement data which is an interpretation of eye movement), that’s the most likely path to take to get a good insight of your page design.  

However, if you need accurate eye movement data, eye-tracking studies can be cost-prohibitive, coming in at thousands of dollars and taking days or weeks to get results. Hotjar’s mouse tracking method won’t be able to provide that kind of data at all, no matter how long your test lasts, but Attention Insight’s AI heatmaps can. Even better, it can be done without putting a dent in your budget.

With Attention Insight, you can be much more flexible and get results faster, especially if you are in pre-launch testing. 

For example, you can see how your concepts perform before you even publish them. You can experiment with 10-20 different design variations in the early design stage and use the AI-based attention heatmaps to filter out the designs with the least potential. 

That way, you get crucial performance feedback on your concepts before they’re launched, allowing you to see the potential performance issues. With this information, you can ensure your design concepts perform well from the minute they’re published. 

Further, AI heatmaps can reduce your A/B testing budget, since you’ll be able to optimize your designs with data even before A/B testing starts.

You can even benchmark your website’s performance against that of your competitors by comparing the pages against the industry. In order to do the same with Hotjar, you would need to install a tracking code on the websites you hope to analyze.

Beyond that, AI eye tracking allows you to analyze any website in just a minute, even if that website has no traffic. To do the same with Hotjar, you’d need substantial traffic within the same timeframe, or you’d need to wait much longer to get valuable insights.

You can go even further with AI heatmaps and analyze a potential client’s website to pitch  your services, pinpointing the website’s weak spots and your proposed fixes.

For these many reasons, Attention Insight is great for pre-launch marketing campaign analytics, merchandising decisions, website optimization, and quick hypothesis testing.

When is mouse tracking better?

With all that said, there may be times when you’d prefer to use mouse tracking heatmaps like Hotjar. For example, you can use the qualitative analysis provided by Hotjar user recordings after you’ve pinpointed certain usability issues on an individual level. However, in this scenario, you’d be using Hotjar after attention heatmap insights from Attention Insight.

In another example, you can define how far down your users are scrolling by using Hotjar’s scroll map feature. Once you identify the most important area, you can focus on its attention analysis provided by Attention Insight.

Mouse tracking can also be used to confirm or double-check a chosen design once it’s live, after you’ve already tested and optimized it in the design stage.

Bottom line: which is better, Hotjar or Attention Insight?

By now it may be clear, but for posterity’s sake we’ll summarize our main point:

Hotjar, which uses mouse tracking, is not more accurate than Attention Insight’s AI eye-tracking in order to understand how users respond to your page’s design.

AI heatmaps provide more accurate analyses of your website’s design in a much faster timeframe and for much less. Beyond that, Attention Insight can also be used on designs that aren’t live yet, or websites that don’t have substantial traffic.

There are also ways to use Hotjar in combination with Attention Insight’s AI heatmaps to get even more insights on specific issues.

You can get a free trial of Attention Insight to see how easy it is to use and how effective its AI heatmaps are.

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