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The easiest way to find out what people need, right on your website

Why are visitors abandoning your website? Who are they? What do they think about your product? You can speculate endlessly about these answers—or you can get them by asking the actual people who visit your website every day.

User research
UX design and analysis

Last updated

9 Jul 2023

All you need is an on-site survey: a simple but extremely powerful tool that helps you get direct, valuable feedback from your website visitors. In this overview, I’ll take you through seven main benefits of using on-site surveys—at Hotjar, we call them 'Surveys'—and give you a few pro tips to set them up and get the best and most useful answers.

Table of contents

What are on-site surveys?

An on-site survey (also known as on-page survey) is a survey used to ask questions and collect feedback when people visit a specific website page.

On-site surveys are simple and short, and slide in from the edge of the page to avoid disrupting a visitor’s journey. The questions they ask can be open-ended (“What do you think of this page?”) or close-ended (“Is this working for you?”); they can also ask users to rate their experiences of the website on a scale.

Start collecting visitor feedback today 🔥

Sign up for a free Hotjar account and start asking your users what works for them (and doesn't) on your website.

7 benefits of on-site surveys

On-site surveys are one of the easiest and most direct ways to collect feedback from your website visitors. Because you can target your questions to pop-up on specific pages and/or after specific actions, it’s easy to gather specialized feedback and get inside your users’ minds.

On-page surveys can help you:

  1. Understand your visitors and what drives them to your website

  2. Understand what your visitors like and don’t like (and why)

  3. Find troublesome pages that need fixing

  4. Measure the customer experience

  5. Increase e-commerce conversions

  6. Read rich insights from your website visitors and customers

  7. Let your customers know you care

Let’s look at these benefits in more detail.

1. Understand your visitors and what drives them to your website


Knowing who your visitors are, and the needs and motivations that drive them to your site, can help you develop a better strategy and make impactful changes. Collecting answers to questions such as:

  • How did you hear about our site?

  • How would you describe yourself in one sentence?

  • What’s your main goal for using [product]?

helps you create realistic user personas for your business, and develop features and services that better serve your user base.

2. Understand what your visitors like or don’t like (and why)


On-page surveys are a great way to collect simple feedback from visitors on their likes and dislikes. You can evaluate satisfaction on specific pages and set up follow-up questions to understand what aspects of the page left the user unsatisfied.

🔥See it in action: the content team at Hotjar uses on-site surveys for this exact purpose—in fact, you may have seen one as you read this article! We have an-on page poll set up to appear on this blog where we ask readers like you about overall satisfaction with each piece + a follow-up question to understand what’s working and what isn’t. Here are some actual results from July 2019:

And here is a trend visualization for the last 2 weeks of July:

Pro tip: this kind of logic is not limited to content pages, and could apply very well to e-commerce product pages—a strategically placed survey that asks “What do you think of the product information on this page?” can help you understand if the information is clear and sufficient or needs improving to lead to more conversions.

3. Find troublesome pages that need fixing

#A Hotjar survey that asks users to mark their responses on a likert scale
A Hotjar survey that asks users to mark their responses on a likert scale

Testing user and customer satisfaction on pages across your website can help you identify the ones that need an overhaul. If most pages are collecting thumbs up or 10/10 scores, then the ones that are averaging 3/10 or a high percentage of thumbs down may need extra attention.

When that’s the case, asking follow-up questions can help you find out what went wrong. There could be multiple issues causing lower ratings, such as:

  • A technical error on the page

  • Text that is difficult to understand

  • The title of the page misrepresents the content

  • The user can’t find the answer to their question

Whatever the issue, you’ve just been handed a golden opportunity to make improvements and increase your overall user satisfaction.

4. Measure the customer experience

#A Hotjar survey that asks users to rate their experience on a descriptive scale
A Hotjar survey that asks users to rate their experience on a descriptive scale

On-site surveys are a valuable way to measure the customer experience (CX) through self-reported data. Common CX metrics are:

Pro tip: all the metrics mentioned above are close-ended, but you can use question logic to ask follow-up questions based on your visitor’s initial answers to get better and more relevant insights. For example, you could ask people who rate you between 0 and 6 on an NPS survey to explain what you should change to improve their score:

5. Increase e-commerce conversions

When you present customers with a quick on-site survey right after they completed a purchase, you get to learn how to seriously improve the buying experience. To get the most insight, we recommend a 3-question post-purchase survey:

  • Start by asking people to rate their overall experience on a 1-5 or bad-to-good scale, so you can look at quantitative trends.

  • Ask a follow-up question that asks them to elaborate on their score (“What can we do to improve the experience?” for low scores, and “What did you love the most about the experience” for high scores) so you get to understand the ‘why’ behind it.

  • Conclude by asking “What almost stopped you from completing your purchase?” to understand the potential obstacles these people successfully managed to navigate, which might need fixing for everybody else.

6. Read rich insights from your website visitors and customers

On-site surveys are an opportunity to gather information beyond just simple yes/no or metric questions. By asking open-ended questions or encouraging people to express a preference, you open up the opportunity for users to express themselves more fully.

7. Let the customer know you care

Without an in-person connection, it can be difficult to convince your visitors and customers that they are really being valued and heard. On-page surveys across your site are one way to demonstrate that you want to know what people have to say and how your site is working for them. Bonus points for closing the loop and following up—whether in person, if they have left their contact details, or through specific fixes and redesign actions.

Keys to a successful on-page survey

On-page surveys are meant to be brief and to the point—if they’re too long, people won’t take the time to answer your questions, and might feel that their experience is being disrupted. Therefore, before setting up an on-page survey, you need to spend a little time planning the right type of question and the right format for the answer.

1. Types of questions you can ask

To ask the right questions, you need to decide what kind of data you are interested in collecting and what you are going to do with it. If you are not planning on acting on any of the answers, then all the effort (yours and your customers’) is wasted.

There are two major types of questions you can use: close-ended and open-ended.

Closed-ended questions

Closed-ended questions can only be answered by choosing from a finite number of options. The answers could be a simple “yes or no,” could be multiple choice, or even could involve selecting a number on a scale.

Pros: they are very easy to analyze as quantitative data points

Cons: they only provide limited insight

Open-ended questions

Open-ended questions do not limit a user’s answers like closed-ended questions do, and allow for unique responses in the user’s own words. Examples include:

  • What could we have done better?

  • Where did you first hear about us?

  • What are your main questions about our product?

Pros: they help you better understand the user’s perspective as they allow for more explanation and opinions.

Cons: they require a different, lengthier process for evaluation and analysis than closed-ended ones.

Pro tip: in general, beware loaded questions that stack the deck towards a certain answer, i.e., “isn’t this page great?.” Instead, word your questions neutrally: “What did you think of this article?” is a neutral way of posing a question, so that website visitors can form their own opinions and express them honestly.

2. The feedback: types of answers you can collect

While there is an infinite number of questions you could ask your website visitors, there are a few major ways you can request answers. Here are six standard examples taken from Hotjar’s on-site survey tool:

1. Long-text answers

This type of open-ended question invites users to leave a long-form answer of several sentences or even paragraphs (up to 255 characters, which is quite a lot for an answer!).

Request long-text answers when you want explanations, detailed opinions, or any kind of in-depth answer from your visitors.

2. Short-text answers

Short-text answers are for open-ended questions that only require a few words or a sentence of text to answer.

Request short-text answers where you only want to collect a short, snappy answer and prefer not to dig through paragraphs of text.

3. Radio buttons (choose only one answer)

Radio buttons are useful when you present the user with a few options but only want them to choose one. In the example above, a radio button can be used for multi-step surveys where you want to gauge the respondent’s interest before engaging them in a follow-up action.

4. Checkboxes (choose multiple answers)

Checkboxes are best used when you give your visitors a few options and want them to choose one or more answers. Unlike radio buttons, they are useful when asking opinions that don’t have a single definitive answer or when you expect users to have more than one response/preference.

5. Ratings

Rating scale questions are useful for asking users to rank their experiences, satisfaction, or effort on a specific scale—so you can report on quantitative trends.

Pro tip: when using a ratings box, make sure you explicitly state the poles of the scale, for example 1 = very easy and 5 = very difficult.

NPS surveys are a specific subset of ratings polls that measure your Net Promoter Score. As a business and customer experience metric, NPS can help a company rally around a mission-critical goal—increase its overall score—that can be tracked and quantified over time.

Final note: the follow-up

Your customers are doing you a favor by taking the time to help you improve. Don’t just abruptly disappear after asking them a question: take the opportunity to keep building the relationship and explain exactly what you are going to do with the feedback.

If you want to take things a step further, point them in the direction to reach out if they have more questions, or ask them to leave their email for a follow up.

Ready to dive in and start learning about your visitors?

Sign up for a free Hotjar account and start collecting feedback.

Net Promoter, Net Promoter System, Net Promoter Score, NPS and the NPS-related emoticons are registered trademarks of Bain & Company, Inc., Fred Reichheld and Satmetrix Systems, Inc.

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