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11th of February 2020 8 Minutes read

Visitor Recording & Session Replay Tools - watch user sessions to improve UX


A friend and collaborator once told me about a landing page he had created in order to promote the booking of test drives for a luxury car model. After 24 hours, he had over 500 clicks on the page, but not a single booking. He had no idea why. The visitors seemed to be within his target group and he thought that the design of the page complied to just about every "conversion optimized web design standard" he could think of. But something was obviously wrong. So he installed a visitor recording & session replay tool to find an answer to his problem.

What he found out was that users were clicking the logo, the picture of the car, even parts of the text on the page, but nobody was clicking the large button with the text "book test drive". Armed with this valuable information, he proceeded to make changes to his page, starting with changing the color and the position of the button. Within 20 minutes of the first changes, the first test drive was booked. The landing page later led directly to the sale of 4 luxury cars, which was a major success. 


The usual analytics tools data can provide only some of the information about what users do on your website. You can try to figure out the details of the interaction from this data, but you won't always be able to. Wouldn't it be great if you would have the possibility to have additional insight by watching an actual recording of how those particular sessions were performed? You would see what people click on your website, their mouse movement and how they scroll. This could tell you more about what is actually going on, enabling you to act to improve your user experience, just like my friend did.


Replay user sessions using Visitor Analytics

What are some of the problems your session replays can reveal about your website

Website visitors are trying to click un-clickable elements

You may have an element that looks like a button on your page, but it isn't really a button. Or maybe an image slide that might seem interactive, but it is not. At the time when the web page was designed, you may not have noticed anything wrong with that.

But your visitors might be getting frustrated by the fact that they can't click them to find more information. Watch the short video to see a hypothetical example of a user trying to click several times on non-clickable elements, before leaving the web page. The user performs several clicks (you can see how the circle next to the mouse pointer gets smaller to indicate clicks are being performed) on some image tiles with added text below, expecting to open a new window with more info.

People are seeing a version of your page that looks different from what it should be

Depending on how you have built your website, your page may look perfect on Google Chrome, on your desktop. But what about people who navigate your site using Safari, Opera, Firefox or other browsers? Internet Explorer, for example, is famous for often failing to display some elements correctly.

What about the responsiveness of your site on smaller devices and resolutions? Have you checked to see how the website displays on all of these combinations? If not, you may find such issues using your session replay software. For example, you might notice some buttons are too close together and users are having trouble to click the one they want.


Some elements on your website may not work correctly

There may be bugs you failed to catch during the testing of your site. Broken links or forms that reply with an error when trying to submit are one example. Visitor recording tools can help you catch that, as long as you have the time to look through several session replays.

Use Behavior: Visitors don't scroll as much as you would like them to

Research shows that scrolling behavior has changed a lot in the past few years. Scroll depth has increased dramatically and key content is now not restricted to being displayed only above the fold. Scrolling is now part of the general behavior of internet users, especially if it is being done on mobile devices.

Still, according to research from Nielsen Norman Group, on average, 74% of the time on a website is spent in the first two screenfuls, up to 2160px, which means that some users will not scroll to the end of a long page. If you have important elements below that, like an ad or a pop-up or a conversion button, they may still go unseen. With visitor recordings and session replays, you can check that directly and see how often users scroll to the targeted element.


Some of your website visitors are not converting. Watch session replay videos to learn why

Assume you have a “free trial” button on your website and you are tracking what percentage of the people, who reach those pages that display the button, proceed to click it. That is what you would define as a “conversion rate”

Even if your conversion rate is satisfactory, you should still try to find out more about those users that are not converting. Find them using your analytics stats and watch some of the website session recordings with their interactions.

In the Visitor Analytics app, you can go to Behaviour - Visitor Recordings and add some filters in order to single out those visitors who are of interest. See the images on the right, for all of the available filters. If, for example, users from Firefox have lower conversion rates, use the Browser filter to watch recordings only of them. You may find that they are seeing a slightly different page design. You can do the same to filter those visitors that spend the least amount of time on the website or those that come from mobile devices. Use the filters on the left to watch recordings only about these categories.

You can also use the filters on the right to better understand why users drop out from one page on your website, rather than others. That page may have a conversion problem. Filter by Exit page and check those recordings to see if users are scrolling chaotically or hesitating before taking action. These are indications of the fact that they are either not able to find the information they were looking for, or that they have a trust issue with continuing the onboarding process.

Combining website statistics with actual session replay videos is an invaluable source of insights when it is used in an organized fashion. Analyzing all the video data generated by user interactions is extremely time-consuming and, in all honesty, pointless. But filtering through the data in order to find the explanations for any particular conversion problem your site may have, will surely give you a head start in the race to solve those problems and reach UX excellence. 

Visitor Analytics now offers its' users the possibility to record some or all of their visitor sessions and to watch them and learn more about customer experience. This new feature is fully integrated in the existing app and is now available to all users, regardless of the type of plan they are using. Also, the app with the new visitor recordings and session replays is supported by most website builder platforms. Check our support page to see how to easily add Visitor Analytics to any type of website.

Replay user sessions using Visitor Analytics

Session Replay Tools & Privacy

The year is 2020 and internet privacy concerns are the most intense topic for debate in many online communities. No doubt, the protection of privacy is a value we should all be adhering to. But, in all honesty, there has also been a wave of over-reactions in connection with this topic. Session replay software makes no exception to this.

Some people are concerned that these recordings are able to gather sensitive personal data from users. For most (or all) session replay tools, that is not true, as password fields and other personal data, that could potentially be revealed, are excluded from visitor recordings.

Other concerns are that the pattern in which a user moves the mouse and scrolls can be used as a unique identifier in order to profile him/her. The resources for doing something like this would far outweigh the benefits. Furthermore, we highly doubt that any user would have such distinctive ways of scrolling, clicking and moving the mouse as for someone to be able to identify him/her by replaying visitor sessions.

Other misunderstandings refer to the fact that session replays are actually creating videos of the user or his activity outside the given website. Once again, this is a myth. The tools involved don't have access to your webcam or anything similar. In fact, website session recording is usually not even a video recording in itself, but a very precise remodelling of the actions on site, based again on data from mouse movement, scroll and clicks. It looks like an actual recording, but, with most tools, it's just a replica.    

However, as a website owner using this kind of technology, make sure you provide users with informed consent about their interactions and add an explicit chapter about recordings to your privacy policy.