Boost your product growth
Start for free in minutes. No credit card required.
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.
Sessionstack, through a combination of pixel-perfect session replay, practical error logs, sitewide click trends, and real-time co-browsing tools 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 SessionStack in five key areas:
I’ll also touch on site load 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:
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.
Has the best free plan. The starter plan costs $79/mo for 300+ daily sessions and the Scale plan is $129/mo for over 800.
Has the core session replay features like player controls, user details, and action logs.
Everything in Hotjar + high-speed and powerful live co-browsing features + dedicated error tracking space and console.
No live session replay capability.
Sub-1-second full co-browsing features with user interaction tools like control takeover.
Page-specific visual click, scroll, and mouse move maps + visual tools for comparing user actions on specific pages.
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 max. Side-by-side comparison graphs are available on Scale plan only.
Can create funnels with four events and no step limit. Maps basic user journeys to identify problematic site elements.
|Site Speed Impact|
829ms average page speed impact across the web. Strong impact on main thread execution.
10 native integrations + Hotjar API + Zapier
14 native integrations + SessionStack API
|291 reviews with 4.3 Rating||63 reviews with 4.9 Rating|
|Unbounce, Decathlon, Brand24, Hussle, Yatter||Kraken, Bazaarvoice, Imagine.ai, Mend, Texas.gov|
|Roughly analyzing user site interactions with visual heatmaps.||Identifying user frustration points with your app or website.|
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.
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.
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 Kraken.com, Bazaarvoice, and Imagine.ai, it supports a variety of use cases and teams: product management, development, customer support, and more.
Hotjar is best for visually analyzing user actions, while SessionStack stands out with co-browsing and error logs
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:
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.
Meanwhile, 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.
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.
Hotjar 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 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.
SessionStack, has true real-time live sessions since its latency is consistently under 1 second — this allowed SessionStack to build a new feature on top of live sessions, that takes customer support to the next level — 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 :
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.
Hotjar logs events & error logs with your site in the session replay views but doesn’t have any filters or 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  and analyze individual errors in-depth  as presented in the screenshot below.
Each event or error log is linked to a specific timestamp in a session replay . When you click the Play button, the session replay starts and pauses right at the point where the error occurred  — allowing you to immediately see how users discovered bugs. From here, you can pull up the console to view more details about the error .
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 for visual presentation and SessionStack for solving issues across the whole site
Hotjar has click maps, scroll maps, and move maps. The move 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).
While these maps are great for visualizing how users interact with each of your pages, they aren’t very useful if you’re trying to identify issues, especially site-wide. That’s because they don’t track exactly which HTML elements users are interacting with.
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, while SessionStack is best for quickly identifying, prioritizing, and solving sitewide issues on websites or apps.
Hotjar lets you track a few simple funnels, while SessionStack gives more options and scope
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:
Each funnel you create in Hotjar can only have a maximum of 10 events. Additionally, you can only choose from three readily available events which are:
On the flip side, Hotjar makes it easy to track and compare multiple funnels side by side, which can be a helpful feature for teams looking to conduct A/B tests for conversion rate optimization.
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 drop off the site.
Winner: Sessionstack because you can use it to track more complex funnels with more user events.
Hotjar is expensive, while SessionStack gives you the best value for money
SessionStack’s free plan gives you access to all features including unlimited projects, dev tools, advanced search filters, and segmentation features. Additionally, you get access to 1500 user sessions/month (about 50 sessions/day), 3 team seats, and 10 live and co-browsing sessions.
Hotjar’s free plan gives you access to unlimited heatmaps and users. However, you are limited to a maximum of 35 daily session replays with no access to the filter and segmentation features.
To get the complete Hotjar experience, you’ll need to be on their Scale plan which starts at $213/month for a total of 500 daily sessions.
Unlike Hotjar, SessionStack unlocks all of its features on the free plan. The starter plan costs $79/month for 10.000 monthly sessions (an average of 300+ daily sessions) across unlimited websites.
SessionStack’s higher-tier plans – Scale and the custom plan for Enterprises – are much more affordable than Hotjar’s while unlocking even more quality features for large teams:
|SessionStack Starter + 25,000 monthly sessions + Data export via REST API + Web call support||SessionStack Scale + Custom no. of sessions + Single Sign-on + Self-hosted deployment + Dedicated support|
Winner: SessionStack has the best free plan and its launch plan includes 10.000 monthly sessions across unlimited sites for $79/month.
|Hotjar Pros||Hotjar 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|
|SessionStack Pros||SessionStack 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|
Businesses with large traffic sites that want to understand general user behavior.
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. 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:
Use SessionStack if:
We’ve also put Mouseflow, Lucky Orange, Inspectlet, and Smartlook in the mix! Learn how they compare and find out which one will work out best for you:
Start for free in minutes. No credit card required.