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So, you’ve recently updated your business’s website, and your traffic metrics are dropping like a rock. Tech support has fielded calls left and right about user bugs and loading issues. Your bounce rate is through the roof, and your clickthrough and conversion rates are suffering.
The tech team can’t pinpoint the source of the bug and squash it. You can’t handle your business getting tanked by poor web performance. Users can’t accurately describe what’s going wrong for them.
If only there were a tool that would let you see exactly what users do on your website.
Enter session replays.
What Are Session Replays?
Session replays, as the name would suggest, replay a user session on your website or application. While the file session replays generate is a video file you can watch, the process is a touch more complicated than recording the screen.
Through clever use of programming, a session replay shows click by click, keystroke by keystroke reproductions of every user interaction on your site. This gives you a much more accurate picture of what your users experience than hearing about it second hand.
For a more complete definition, you can learn more from this glossary.
What Do Session Replays Capture?
Session replays can capture a variety of user movements on the web page. These include, but are not limited to:
Session replays can show you if a user resizes their screen. This can prove instrumental in discovering that media or content formatting was a pain point for users. While only 2-3% of users resize their pages, you should still watch for any instances that occur.
Did the user refresh the page after it wasn’t loading for a moment? Did they navigate to another page in hopes of resetting it somehow? Any page changes or refreshes the user initiates can get logged by session replays.
Session replays can capture user interactions with forms on your website. No need to worry about privacy concerns; any identifying information gets censored out with asterisks.
Click, Move, Scroll, Repeat
The most obvious thing session replays capture is the mouse movements of your users. Every click, every scroll, every possible mouse behavior gets tracked by the replay. This can give you a much more comprehensive view of the movements users have on your website than heatmaps.
How Can Session Replays Help Me?
By tracking the movements of users through your website, you get a holistic view of user experience, rather than a snapshot. This can allow you to:
Spot, Reproduce, and Correct Bugs
The trickiest thing when any script or code bugs is figuring out where the bug is and how to fix it. Sadly, when users encounter bugs, most don’t have the language to describe where or why they believe the bug appeared.
Bug reports, while useful, don’t always have the gift of context, and it’s easy for IT professionals to write off an odd bug as the result of user error if they can’t reproduce it. Session replays show the moment the bug arose in context, giving a better idea of where in the code it might lie, and how they might fix it.
If you’ve recently seen your conversion rate drop off the face of the planet, you might wonder what’s behind it. With session replays, you can see the moment when people clicked away from your site, abandoned a half-filled out form, or stopped their order from completing.
Oftentimes, there is a user experience issue at the root of all these problems. But sorting out where the worst issue lies can be tricky.
By seeing the moment the user leaves the relevant page, you can better examine what’s leading to it. Was the form confusingly-worded? Does having a registration barrier to purchase lead to a drop in final sales?
This allows for targeted solutions, rather than general overhauls.
Protect Your Company and Site
Session recordings also allow you to track and stop any suspicious activity on your website. Not all session recording tools have this advantage, but some on the market do. This will allow you to notice where potential vulnerabilities lie.
Additionally, with a full session recording, you can have definitive proof that a user did something incorrectly on the site, leading to their issue. This is especially useful in cases of fraud.
Finding User Pain Points
Understanding user frustration is critical to good web design. However, there are some user pain points that simply don’t come across in a feedback form or a screenshot.
For example, if your site has different loading rates across different browsers, that can be a significant pain point for users. You might not notice this, or think it’s that bad when looking at a raw datasheet. But seeing it in real-time, you can better understand your user frustration.
Elements that don’t work on the first click are another common user pain point that other tools might overlook or not convey fully. Through session replays, you can see which elements customers clicked on over and over, to no avail. This can help you understand if the issue is a coding element or something on the user end.
Bringing It Back to Basics
So, what are session replays, and how can they better help your business? Session replays allow you to watch user interactions with your site in real-time. This lets you diagnose the issues users face in context, rather than relying on secondhand accounts.
Once you can handle your website’s pain points, you’ll see all of your other metrics improve like you want them to.
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