Website analytics session recordings

... It's amazing what they tell you about your website

A Session recording is a recording of a real person using your website. See the example above.

They show the following about your website visitors:

  • what they click on,
  • how long they take to look at or read things,
  • where they put their cursor while navigating around your website – they often point it at the bit they’re reading,
  • whether they scroll down to the bottom of your web pages,
  • if they are reading your copy,
  • if they are scrolling through your image galleries,
  • if they are watching your videos,
  • whether they click on your calls to action,
  • whether they click on your email address links in an attempt to email,
  • and many other insights.

They also show if bits of your website aren’t working as they should be.

I’ve learnt so much about what is or isn’t working on our website since installing the session recording code. The tracking code software is from a company called FullStory. There’s a free version to get started with. I recommend installing it on your website or asking your web developer to do it for you. Then monitor it daily or ask your web company to track it for you.

Why are session recordings important?

I find the contrast between what we assume will work well on our websites and how real website visitors use our websites is amazing. Things that seem obvious to one person are not to another. Session recordings show us what’s going on and how our specific customers use our website, what they find relevant and useful and what they don’t.

Also, website technology is complicated, and things often go wrong.

Session recording allows us to capture all these customer insights and problems as soon as they occur letting us put them right quickly. These website improvements, in turn, ensure that our website attracts potential customers and works hard to convert them into enquiries.

What I’ve learnt about our website, and it’s users so far and what we are going to do because of these insights

I’ve only used FullStory for just over a month and have caught so many issues, and noticed many areas of our website that will benefit from improvement.

Here are some of the issues and insights I’ve discovered:

  1. Issue: Just today when I started recording the video for this blog – I found that all our example client work wasn’t showing on our website! All people could see was a big white space with a big arrow either side! This is not exactly a good impression for a brand identity and website design agency to show to its potential customers, is it! It’s embarrassing to say that I’d noticed this in a couple of user sessions earlier in the week and not realised that the problem was real.

    I thought the issue was something to do with the recording software or maybe those specific website visitors had very slow internet speeds. I was wrong!

    The problem must have occurred either after I updated our website software last week or when I moved our website over to a secure connection to keep Google happy.

    Action: Spend Saturday morning (today) fixing the issue! All sorted now – Thank you FullStory.

  2. Insight: People are not finding our client work pages. I assume that potential customers will want to see examples of our work. Also the only place our client testimonials show currently is on the individual client project pages. So I want people to look at our projects pages!

    Action: I’ll experiment with the following:
    (a) putting a prominent call to action on the client success stories page,
    (b) adding each project as a dropdown list item on the main menu bar,
    (c) removing the summary text overlay layer,
    (d) making the whole logo and summary overlay area click through to the project page and
    (e) anything else I can think of.

  3. Insight: People do scroll down to the bottom of our homepage, and they spend time reading the words on the peacock tail image. I didn’t think they would.

    Action:  I’ll make more effort to put valuable things and calls to action at the bottom of each page.

  4. Insight: People don’t click on the peacock tail homepage image. I nearly spent ages (I mean weeks of work!) making each feather clickable. I was going to make each feather when clicked, lead to a section of the site which talked specifically about the marketing or branding tactic written on that feather.

    Action: Remove this task from my to-do list. Lots of time saved there!

  5. Issue: People don’t use the ‘back-to-top’ button at the bottom of each of our web pages. So now I’m wondering why? It’s so much easier quicker to click the ‘back-to-top’ button than to scroll all the way back up to the main menu at the top of the screen – especially on a mobile phone.

    Action: Maybe the button needs to be bigger and specifically say the words ‘Back to top’. So I’ll test both of these ideas. Maybe our website users just don’t know what the button is for. I’ll implement some experiments, and I’ll ask our customers what they think about ‘back-to-top’ buttons – do they use them and if not why not?

  6. Issue: I like to see if people are reading our blogs (they take me ages to create!), so I regularly check our Google Analytics and FullStory data. A couple of weeks ago I reviewed our FullStory data and found that my new blog wasn’t even showing on the website to some of our visitors.

    Action: Remember to clear the website cache when I post a new blog.

Going forward

I’ll keep monitoring our FullStory data, along with our Google Analytics data, regularly tweaking our website in response to how real people use it. And I’ll recommend to all our clients that we install FullStory on their sites. They can monitor it themselves, or we can do it as part of their monthly website maintenance package.

If you’d like to see similar information about your website – ask your web developer or marketing agency to install FullStory for you. You can find it here: FullStory. If you’ve used your analytics to find issues and improve your website, please share your insights with us in the comments below.

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