Hotjar vs FullStory vs SessionStack: A Definitive Comparison [June 2023]

Hotjar vs FullStory vs SessionStack: A Definitive Comparison [June 2023]

Mihael Cacic

Apr 28, 2023 • 14 min read

Hotjar vs FullStory vs SessionStack: A Definitive Comparison (April 2023)

After testing both Hotjar and FullStory—analyzing visitor interactions with my website and SaaS platform—the differences became apparent:

Hotjar is a great platform for high-traffic websites that want to see aggregated user data through heatmaps and surveys. However, it lacks detailed customer journey analysis and has a subpar session replay feature, which is jittery and significantly impacts site load speed.

FullStory, on the other hand, excels in customer journey analysis, making it a popular choice among marketers and product managers working on enterprise-level projects. It’s ideal for tracking how visitors move through websites and online funnels with complex visitor journeys, such as websites with lots of pages or eCommerce stores with lots of product categories.

However, neither of them is a good choice for practical web apps that users use as tools (think SaaS platforms and web apps like travel booking sites or event ticketing sites). This is why I’ve included SessionStack in the comparison. Through a combination of pixel-perfect session replay, practical error logs, sitewide click trends, and real-time co-browsing tools it enables UX designers, developers, and customer support teams to get impeccable insights into how users are finding their way on your platform, quickly identify and resolve frustrations, and improve user experience overall.

In this article, I compare Hotjar vs FullStory vs SessionStack in four key areas:

  1. Heatmaps
  2. Co-browsing
  3. Session replay
  4. Customer journey analysis

I’ll also touch on site loading speed impact and integrations to give you the full picture and help you make the right decision for your needs. While I haven’t written specific sections on these two topics, I have included them in the overview table below:

Hotjar FullStory SessionStack

Limited free plan. Starter plan is $39/mo for 100 sessions/day. Business starts at $99/mo, and Scale at $213/mo for 500 daily sessions.
14-day trial + option to switch to free plan after it ends. Pricing isn’t disclosed but users report it starts at $299/mo. Session amount isn’t disclosed.
SessionStack’s pricing is currently in revision.*
Session Replay
Has the core session replay features like player controls, user details, and action logs.
Everything in Hotjar + live replays for online users and different user states (active, inactive & offline). Basic action logs.
Everything in FullStory + high-speed and powerful live co-browsing features + dedicated error tracking space.

No live session replay capability.
Can be used for co-browsing with live session replays but has very high latency (measured > 8 seconds) and no tools.
Sub-1-second full co-browsing features with user interaction tools like control takeover.
AI Integration
AI-assisted customer survey analysis.

No AI capabilities
AI-augmented session replays. Saves time with optimization recommendations and session summaries. 
Page-specific visual click, scroll, and mouse move maps + visual tools for comparing user actions on specific pages.
Page-specific visual click and scroll maps. Tracks rage clicks, dead clicks, and error clicks with segmentation tools.
Stands out with site-wide click tracking that surfaces page elements that cause the most dead clicks and rage clicks.
Customer Journey Analysis
Funnels are limited to three event types and ten steps. Unique Side-by-side funnel comparison on Scale plan.
Has all key features of Hotjar and SessionStack + highest number of event types for creating highly customized funnels.
Can create funnels with four events and no step limit. Maps basic user journeys to identify problematic site elements.
Site Speed Impact

Reported 829ms average page speed impact across the web. Strong impact on main thread execution.
Reported 657ms average page speed impact across the web. Impacts main thread execution but less than Hotjar.
Extremely lightweight JavaScript. Doesn’t block main thread execution.
10 native integrations + Hotjar API + Zapier
20 native integrations + FullStory API + Zapier
14 native integrations + SessionStack API 
G2 Reviews
291 reviews with 4.3 Rating 256 reviews with 4.5 Rating 63 reviews with 4.9 Rating
Trusted by
Unbounce, Decathlon, Brand24, Hussle, Yatter KeyBank, JetBlue, SoundCloud, Mammut, l’Occitane Kraken, Bazaarvoice,, Mend,
Best for
Roughly analyzing user site interactions with visual heatmaps. Tracking the movement of visitors through your website and online funnels. Identifying user frustration points with your app or website.
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SessionStack is being reshaped to meet the growing demands of its existing and future customers. The team is laser-focused on helping e-commerce businesses streamline their conversion rate optimization efforts for faster revenue growth. This is done through an industry-first AI capability – SessionStackAI, which is based on the rich session data the platform is already built to collect.


As part of the ongoing change, SessionStackAI is currently offered only as a paid pilot service with a 21-day free trial. To find out how SessionStackAI can help optimize your e-store with no effort, book a demo today 👉

What is Hotjar?

“Leap over conversion obstacles” 🚧🏃‍♂️

In 2014, David Darmanin, a former conversion optimization professional, founded Hotjar with the goal of creating an affordable all-in-one tool for understanding user behavior.

This vision led to the development of a sleek and modern platform that is both intuitive and versatile. With Hotjar, you can view three different types of heatmaps: click maps for the most clicked elements on a page, scroll maps for how far down a page site visitors scroll, and move maps for tracking areas where site users frequently move their mouse cursors. Additionally, you get access to survey and customer feedback widgets for collecting direct feedback from website visitors.

Hotjar’s focus on heatmaps makes it great for websites with huge traffic that want rough trends on how users interact with the site, which is why brands like Decathlon, T-Mobile, and Panasonic use it. But it’s less suited for singling out exact issues because of how it approaches session replays and customer journey analysis.

What is FullStory?

“An inside view of your customer’s journey” 🔍🎭

In 2014, former Google engineer Scott Voigt, teamed up with two former colleagues to create an app. After getting their first trickle of customers, they soon realized the need for a tool that could analyze customer journeys. And so, FullStory was born.

Today, FullStory is well-established in the digital experience space with tools like heatmaps, session replays, and customer journey analytics — everything you need to know to remove the guesswork from learning how customers interact with your online content. It records and indexes all user sessions and interactions, and supports live viewing. But its stand-out feature is the in-depth funnel analysis tool that lets you set up and track complex funnels and track user journeys through your site.

FullStory is well-rounded but lacks co-browsing features. It also isn’t the best for identifying software errors and user frustration signals but it’s the best choice if you need a platform for customer journey analysis, which is why it’s popular with brands like KeyBank, JetBlue, and BlueNile.

What is SessionStack?

“Become the hero of seamless user experience” 🦸‍♂️💫

SessionStack’s founder Alexander Zlatkov was a software engineer at Progress where he built products and helped customers resolve problems with their apps. He noticed there weren’t many good tools to help understand how users interact with online apps, so he set out to create one in 2016.

With its advanced session replay features, SessionStack stands out from the rest of the tools and even earned G2’s “session replay category leader” title for it in 2023. That’s because it takes every session replay functionality to the next level. It supports low latency (<1 second) live sessions but also lets you interact with the user’s sessions and take over with co-browsing. It doesn’t just log JavaScript errors but also has a dedicated tool to identify them site-wide. It allows user segmentation but also helps you instantly identify the exact elements that are causing user frustrations — all without the need to install additional software.

SessionStack stands out with session replays, co-browsing, error logs, and user action segmentation because it’s purpose-built for identifying errors and user frustrations for websites and apps. Trusted by brands like, Bazaarvoice, and, it supports a variety of use cases and teams: product management, development, customer support, and more.

Hotjar vs FullStory vs SessionStack: Session Replay

Hotjar is best for visually analyzing user actions, FullStory tracks the most user actions, while SessionStack stands out with co-browsing and error logs

Hotjar FullStory SessionStack
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Session Replay is a feature that allows you to record and playback user interactions on your website, capturing everything from mouse movements, clicks, and scrolls to form inputs and page navigations. It’s crucial for understanding user behavior and optimizing the customer experience.

In this section, we compare the tools’ session replay capabilities, specifically their:

  1. UI/UX design
  2. User segmentation
  3. Live sessions
  4. Co-browsing
  5. Error logs

Session Replay UI/UX design

SessionStack is practical and easy to use, Hotjar is minimalistic and intuitive, and FullStory is feature-dense and overwhelming.

SessionStack’s interface stands out for its user-friendly design, featuring a simple two-column layout with bold and large icons that make navigation a breeze.

The action log on the left side of the screen is synchronized with the session replay, allowing you to easily follow along and pinpoint specific user actions (such as clicks, rage clicks, dead clicks, errors, etc.). This design makes workflows in SessionStack very fast even for long sessions — you can jump on a replay with a specific issue in mind and find it within seconds.

Hotjar has a sleek interface, with a neat organization of recording actions and session details on the right, replay options on the bottom, and a user screen in the middle.

FullStory’s interface is similar to Hotjar — minimalistic with toned-down colors. The key difference is that it’s more feature-dense which makes it feel cluttered and overwhelming. As a result, FullStory has the steepest learning curve among the three tools.

AI-Augmented Session Replays
SessionStack’s AI-enhanced session replays provide rapid session briefings and recommendations for optimization.

Within SessionStack’s session replay tool, you’ll see a “Get Summary” button in the toolbar on the left. When clicking it, the AI tool generates a comprehensive summary of the session recording. This summary is divided into three areas:

  • Session briefing: A quick summary of the user’s actions throughout the session.
  • Significant events: A list of ten impactful events that happened during the session.
  • Optimization counsel: Some suggestions on enhancing the user journey based on the session’s events.

User Segmentation

All three tools let you segment users and filter them based on user, session, and activity data. Hotjar stands out because it lets you compare segments visually.

EDITOR’S NOTE: What is user segmentation?

User segmentation (or ‘Audience segmentation) allows businesses to categorize their users based on specific criteria (such as demographics, behavior, and even new vs returning users). This is vital for understanding how different users perceive your website, and helping you make your UI/UX perfect for everyone.

SessionStack’s implementation of user segments is simple and straightforward, allowing even non-technical users to easily navigate and create segments.

You can build and save multiple customer segments with specific users, sessions, and event filters — providing a comprehensive overview of user behavior and engagement on your app.

FullStory’s user segments and trends are very similar to SessionStack: both platforms allow users to create segments based on user behavior, session data, and event tracking. The key difference is that FullStory has slightly more filter options for analyzing user actions.

While Hotjar’s filters aren’t as plentiful as FullStory’s, it stands out with its side-by-side trend comparison. This lets you plot trends across multiple customer segments on the same graph (such as comparing new vs returning visitors, or different traffic sources), allowing you to easily compare user behavior patterns of two or more distinct user segments.

Live Sessions

FullStory lets you see and track user activity almost in real-time, SessionStack does the same but without any delay, and Hotjar lacks live sessions altogether.

EDITOR’S NOTE: What are live sessions?

Live sessions allow you to view real users who are currently active on your website in real-time. In theory, this feature gives your product, development, and customer support teams the ability to immediately identify issues and provide assistance to your users.

FullStory offers basic live session functionality, with user actions on the right, the replay in the middle, and replay options at the bottom of the screen.

The biggest issue with FullStory’s live sessions, though, is large latencies (in our case it was around 8 seconds), which make live sessions essentially just “fresh” recent recordings.

This can still be useful for quickly identifying issues, but it doesn’t let you interact with users and help them resolve usability problems in real-time.

SessionStack, on the other hand, does have true real-time live sessions since its latency is consistently under 1 second. And in the next section, we’ll see that this allowed SessionStack to build a whole new feature on top of live sessions, that takes customer support to the next level — co-browsing.


SessionStack takes live sessions to the next level with co-browsing.

Co-browsing is an additional feature on top of live sessions, that allows you to join user sessions and provide guidance in real-time, without users having to install any additional software, plugins, or add-ons.


Co-browsing is not the same as screen sharing. It doesn’t require any third-party downloads or installations and is browser-based, meaning you don’t see the entire screen, just a single browser tab. To understand the difference, you can read more about it in our article on co-browsing.

Co-browsing is possible only when live sessions are truly real-time — with delays of less than a second. Since SessionStack is the only tool on the market with less than 1-second delays, it is also the only true co-browsing tool.

In SessionStack’s co-browsing mode, you get access to three tools [1]:

  • A pointer: A circular cursor that highlights different elements on your user’s screen, without interacting with the page.
  • A pen: A drawing tool for annotating your user’s screen.
  • Control takeover: With permission from the user, you can take complete control of their screen and perform actions on their behalf (on your website, only).

In SessionStack, the co-browsing experience is smooth and fast, with latencies of less than one second on both ends. It’s also completely secure, as users can mask sensitive data (like credit card details and login information) preventing it from being sent over to the agent.
Co-browsing is perfect for customer support teams when onboarding or resolving issues alongside a phone call, chat session, or email conversation to provide timely, personalized service in real-time.

Error Logs

Hotjar and FullStory have basic log consoles in session replays, while SessionStack has a dedicated tool for managing all error logs.

Both Hotjar and FullStory log events & error logs with your site in the session replay views. The only difference is that FullStory also has filters and a search bar to help you make sense of the data.

Meanwhile, SessionStack has a dedicated space for events and error logs. It lets you see individual errors across the whole site [2] and analyze individual errors in-depth [1] as presented in the screenshot below.

Each event or error log is linked to a specific timestamp in a session replay [2]. When you click the Play button, the session replay starts and pauses right at the point where the error occurred [1] — allowing you to immediately see how users discovered bugs. From here, you can pull up the console to view more details about the error [3].

Winner: SessionStack. In addition to the recorded sessions, live user sessions, and segmentation, you can interact with users via their browsers in real time using co-browsing tools. It also supports developers and product designers with powerful error identification and logging features.

Hotjar vs FullStory vs SessionStack: Heatmaps

Hotjar for visual presentation, FullStory for user behavior insights, and SessionStack for solving issues across the whole site

Hotjar FullStory SessionStack
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Heatmaps are visual representations of user interactions on a webpage, showing which areas receive the most activity (such as clicks, mouse movements, and scrolls). They help you identify popular elements, areas of frustration, and potential opportunities for improvement.

FullStory tracks clicks and page scroll depth.

In addition to the quantitative metrics [3] like users, page views, clicks, median time & scroll depth, you also get a visual representation of the most clicked areas on your page (click maps [2]) and scroll depths (scroll maps [2]).

In addition, click maps offer the additional feature of filtering by dead clicks, rage clicks, and error clicks. However, a drawback with FullStory is that you have to analyze each page separately as it doesn’t offer sitewide web analytics.

Hotjar tracks clicks, scroll depth, and mouse movements.

Hotjar’s heatmap functionalities are similar to FullStory’s. The main difference is that you have an additional heatmap view: a move map. This map gives you a visual representation of the different spots where users moved their mouse while navigating a specific page (Shown in the image below).

SessionStack analyzes your user’s most clicked and most frustrating elements and takes a different approach to map user actions.

SessionStack does not offer visual heatmaps because those lack precision when it comes to tracking dynamic elements like drop-down menus. Instead, it compiles user data by HTML element to quickly surface the top 10 sitewide results for the:

By default, these results are shown for all users who visit your site. But you can filter them by setting up custom filters (which we have already discussed in the User Segmentation section.)

The great thing about SessionStack’s approach to mapping user actions is that you instantly see which HTML elements on your site or app need attention, without having to look through each page separately. That’s because it also tracks how users interact with dynamic elements like hidden menus, which traditional heatmaps don’t record. Combine that with user segments and you get a powerful tool for quickly analyzing sitewide user behavior.

Verdict: Hotjar is best for visualizing user actions on individual pages, FullStory has the best toolkit for deriving insights from individual user behavior, while SessionStack is best for quickly identifying, prioritizing, and solving sitewide issues or improving UX on websites or apps.

Hotjar vs FullStory vs SessionStack: Customer Journey Analysis

Hotjar lets you track a few simple funnels, SessionStack gives more options and scope, while FullStory provides the best insights

Hotjar FullStory SessionStack
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Customer journeys are analyzed using Funnels: tools for tracking how users navigate your site. You can set them up by defining which events cause users to “progress” down the funnel (for example, page visits on a specific URL), effectively segmenting your users based on which parts of the site they interacted with. Here’s an example of a funnel:

Hotjar’s funnel options are rudimentary and very limited.

Each funnel you create in Hotjar can only have a maximum of 10 steps. Additionally, you can only choose from three step types which are:

  • Viewed a page
  • Clicked an element
  • Event occurred

On the flip side, Hotjar makes it easy to track and compare multiple funnels side by side. It allows funnel comparisons of up to 5 user segments — which can be a helpful feature for teams looking to conduct A/B tests for conversion rate optimization.

SessionStack covers the basics of funnel creation and conversion tracking.

Unlike Hotjar, SessionStack lets you add infinite events to the event chain, with two additional events to choose from: ‘Rage click’ and ‘Dead click’. This lets you keep track of more nuanced customer journeys and even identify problematic elements that prevented conversions or made customers to drop off the site.

FullStory has the most extensive options for funnel creation and analysis.

FullStory has all the key features of both Hotjar and SessionStack. In addition, it also has more granular events that allow for more complex behavior tracking:

  • Highlighted text,
  • Refreshed URL,
  • Abandoned form, etc.

Winner: FullStory wins because it has the widest range of event options for building highly customized funnels. And it also lets you compare conversions side-by-side across multiple user groups.

Hotjar vs FullStory vs SessionStack: Pros & Cons

Hotjar ProsHotjar Cons
✅ Colorful and intuitive interface❌ Limited free plan
✅ Most heatmap types: click, scroll, and move ❌ Expensive pricing plans
✅ Has visual representation of heatmaps❌ Only records a sample of user sessions
✅ User feedback tools and survey widgets❌ No live sessions or co-browsing
✅ Comprehensive conversion funnel analytics❌  Has basic funnel tracking features that are only available on the highest plan
FullStory ProsFullStory Cons
✅ Records all user sessions❌ No free plan
✅ View live sessions❌ Non-transparent pricing
✅ Compatible with mobile apps❌ Cluttered interface
✅ Highest number of funnel event triggers for advanced journey mapping❌ Steep learning curve
✅ Error console available❌ No co-browsing features
✅ Extensive integrations including Google Analytics
SessionStack ProsSessionStack Cons
✅ Generous free plan❌ No annotation in session replay
✅ Affordable pricing plans ❌ Does not have page-specific heatmaps
✅ Extremely easy to set up and navigate❌ Can’t track every user event with funnels
✅ Pixel-perfect session replays
✅ Very lightweight and doesn’t affect site speed
✅ Super fast co-browsing tools
✅ Dedicated error tracking page

Final Verdict: Hotjar vs FullStory vs SessionStack

Best for:
Businesses with large traffic sites that want to understand general user behavior.
Best for:
Marketers that need a tool to understand customer journeys and collect user conversion data.
Best for:
Product teams and developers who need granular insights on user interaction with apps and sites. Customer support teams that want to offer the best service to users.

Hotjar’s heatmap and visualization features make it best for understanding user interactions on large-traffic websites. Unlike Hotjar, FullStory has the most extensive funnel creation, analytics, and reporting features, making it the best for customer journey analysis. Then there’s SessionStack with its advanced session replay, co-browsing, and error-tracking features for identifying app or site issues and helping customers resolve problems in real time.

Use Hotjar if:

  • You have a website with lots of traffic.
  • You want a visual representation and comparisons of session event data.
  • You don’t need detailed user interaction data and are more interested in general trends.

Click here to get started with Hotjar!

Use FullStory if:

  • You need well-rounded behavior analytics software to analyze what your users are doing.
  • You want advanced funnel analytics tools to analyze customer journeys.
  • You want a custom solution for your specific needs and are prepared to pay for it.

Click here to get started with FullStory!

Use SessionStack if:

  • You’re looking for a tool that helps you quickly spot errors in your software.
  • You want a platform that lets you interact with your users in real time and help them.
  • You need a tool to find the exact issues and frustration users have with your apps and site.

Click here to get started with SessionStack!

We’ve also put Mouseflow, LogRocket, Lucky Orange,Inspectlet, and Smartlook in the mix! Learn how they compare and find out which one will work out best for you:

See what SessionStackAI can do for your business