How to Record User Sessions on Your Website to Track Performance

Have you ever wondered what users do when they visit your website? As a website owner, understanding user behavior is crucial for improving your site and providing a better experience. One way to gain insight is by recording user sessions to see exactly how visitors interact with your pages.

Session recordings enable you to literally look over the shoulder of your users as they navigate your site. You can see where they click, how they scroll, what pages they visit, and more. This allows you to identify usability issues, find confusing pages, and see where users struggle. Ultimately, session recordings give you the data to optimize your website for higher engagement and conversion.

In this post, we’ll explore what session recordings are, why they’re useful, and how to implement session recording on your own website. Let’s dive in!

Record a User Session on Your Website

What is a User Session Recording?

A user session recording captures everything a visitor does on your website during a single visit. It records their mouse movements, clicks, scrolling, page visits, and more.

Session recordings are sometimes called session replays because you can “replay” a user’s journey step-by-step. It’s like watching security camera footage of a person walking through a store. You see exactly where they went and what they looked at.

By watching these recordings, you gain visibility into how real users interact with your site. You can identify usability problems that may not be obvious otherwise. You can also find common paths and usage patterns to optimize.

Why You Should Use a Web-Based Tool to Record User Sessions

A web-based tool to record user sessions is a great way to understand your audience and their needs. It can help you better understand what they are looking for from your site and how they interact with it.

A tool like this can also help you reach out to users who are not ready to purchase yet. You can use the data collected from these sessions to pinpoint potential customers and reach out to them in the future.

Web-Based Record Sessions

Why Recording User Sessions on the Web is Better Than Using a Third-Party Analytics Tool

A third-party analytics tool is typically an external service that a business can use to track the number of visitors, their location, and other metrics. In contrast, recording user sessions on the web is a way for businesses to keep an eye on their users without having to rely on a third-party tool.

The benefits of recording user sessions on the web include:

  • It’s cheaper than using a third-party analytics tool.
  • It provides more granular data about your users’ behaviors and actions.
  • It has better accuracy than using a third party tool.

There are many reasons why businesses may want to use this method instead of relying on an external service like Google Analytics or Creabl The most common reason is that it’s easier for businesses to implement internally.

Implementing Session Recording on Your Website

Adding the ability to record user sessions involves three main steps:

  1. Choose session recording software
  2. Install the recording tracker on your site
  3. View and analyze the recordings

Let’s explore each of these in more detail:

Step 1: Choose Session Recording Software

First, you’ll need to select software that enables session recording and analysis. There are both open source and commercial solutions available.

Some popular options include:

  • FullStory – Robust commercial platform with handy analytics.
  • Hotjar – All-in-one tool that includes recordings.
  • Inspectlet – Affordable commercial software focused just on session replay.
  • OpenReplay – Open source alternative that’s free for smaller sites.

Evaluate different options to find the best fit for your needs and budget. Most paid tools offer free trials so you can test drive them first.

Step 2: Install the Recording Tracker

Next, you’ll add a small tracking script from your chosen software to your website code. This allows the tool to monitor visitor activity across your site.

The exact installation steps vary by platform but usually involve:

  • Getting a tracker code snippet
  • Adding it to your header or footer code
  • Verifying the integration

This tracking script passively records visitors in the background without any effect on site performance.

Step 3: View and Analyze Recordings

Now comes the fun part – viewing recordings to gain insights! Your session recording tool will provide an interface to search and filter past visits.

You can look for recordings:

  • On a specific page
  • During a date range
  • Matching criteria like location or device
  • For an individual user ID

The tool then plays back the session like a video for you to observe. You can jump around within the visit and slow down or speed up playback.

As you watch, look for usability struggles, engagement metrics, and paths through your site. Take notes on issues to address and opportunities to optimize the experience.

Over time, spotting trends will allow you to prioritize changes with the highest impact on users and your business goals.

Tips for Effective Session Analysis

Here are some tips to get the most out of analyzing your session recordings:

  • Watch full sessions – Don’t just jump around. Follow complete journeys to understand context.
  • Take notes – Keep track of issues and questions that come up while watching.
  • Slow it down – Slow playback to 5-10x to carefully observe small interactions.
  • Collaborate – Invite teammates to review recordings and discuss insights.
  • Aggregate data – Compile trends instead of relying on individual sessions.
  • Focus on feel – Pay attention to overall user experience, not just metrics.
  • Apply insights – Ensure learnings translate into site improvements.

With practice, you’ll learn to efficiently extract useful findings from your recordings.

Benefits of Recording User Sessions

Here are some of the key benefits of implementing session recording on your website:

Discover Usability Issues

Watching recordings makes it easy to spot usability problems. You may notice users struggling to find a certain button, excess scrolling to reach key content, or confusion around workflows. These issues likely point to opportunities to improve your site’s information architecture and navigation.

Identify “Sticking Points”

Look for patterns where many users seem to get “stuck” on certain pages. They may struggle to complete a form or check out. High drop-off rates likely indicate issues that should be addressed.

See How Users Navigate

Understand how visitors move through your site by identifying common paths. See which links get clicked most often. Use this to optimize navigation menus and internal linking.

Observe Engagement

Notice which pages users spend time on versus those they quickly leave. See how they interact with page elements like videos or slideshows. Use this to double down on what engages visitors.

Improve Content

Pinpoint confusing content that users skip or spend little time on. Find opportunities to clarify messaging, add visuals, or improve content structure.

Optimize Workflows

Analyze recordings to remove friction from complicated processes like checkout flows or registration forms. Streamline these experiences for better conversion rates.

Prioritize Changes

Use recordings to build a case for high-impact changes. Demonstrate actual user struggles instead of making assumptions.

As you can see, session recordings provide incredibly valuable insights. Now let’s look at how to add this capability to your site.

Metrics to Track from Session Recordings

In addition to qualitative insights, session recordings provide many quantitative metrics to incorporate into your analysis:

  • Bounce rate – Percentage of single page visits
  • Pages per session – Average page depth
  • Average session duration – Time spent on site
  • Scroll depth – How far users scroll on pages
  • Click counts – Frequency of clicks on elements
  • Conversion funnel – Where users drop off in workflows

Tools like Hotjar and FullStory display many of these metrics automatically synchronized with the recordings. Reviewing metrics and recordings together gives a complete picture.

For example, combine scroll depth data showing people don’t scroll with recordings revealing a “below the fold” call-to-action placement. This demonstrates the opportunity to move the CTA higher up the page.

Getting Started with Session Recordings

If you want to unlock the power of session recordings for your website, here are some tips to get started:

  • Do a free trial – Test drive software before purchasing to evaluate the value.
  • Start small – Don’t feel overwhelmed. Record one high-priority page to begin with.
  • Recruit team help – Get others to also analyze recordings to spread insights.
  • Act on learnings – Use early findings to demonstrate the value and justify expansion.
  • Expand slowly – Gradually record more pages as you build analysis skills.
  • Keep privacy top of mind – Inform visitors and mask personal data appropriately.
  • Persist through learning curve – It takes time to extract meaningful insights from recordings.

With a thoughtful approach, session recordings can transform your understanding of the user experience on your website. You’ll unlock a powerful capability for optimizing based on real visitor behaviors.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some key things to look for when analyzing session recordings?

Some key things to look for include usability struggles, confusion around workflows, sticking points with high drop-off rates, poorly performing content, and patterns showing how users navigate your site. Watch the video for opportunities to clarify messaging, simplify workflows, fix navigation issues, highlight key content, and improve engagement.

It’s a good idea to watch at least 10 full session recordings to begin spotting issues, and ideally 20 or more to identify broader trends. Aggregating observations across multiple sessions helps to separate common problems from one-off occurrences. Take detailed notes as you analyze recordings to compile findings.

What are some privacy best practices for session recording?

Be transparent by disclosing you use session recording and allowing opt-outs. Mask or delete personal data like emails and phone numbers before storing recordings. Let users delete their sessions upon request. Anonymize IPs and usernames. Follow local privacy regulations and get legal guidance as needed on what’s permissible.

Should session recordings replace or augment other analytics?

Session recordings complement your existing analytics rather than replacing them. Recordings provide qualitative insights into the user experience while analytics give the hard metrics. Use both in tandem to get a complete view. For example, combine feedback from recordings with your heatmaps to understand how to better highlight engagement areas on each page.

How can session recordings help improve conversion funnels?

By seeing exactly where users drop off in conversion workflows, you can isolate sticking points. Look for recordings showing confusion around form fields, payment issues, lack of direction, excessive steps, and other struggles. Address these areas through content clarification, form optimization, additional visual guidance, or streamlining. This helps more users successfully complete conversions.

What are some optimal page areas to focus on in session recordings?

Pay special attention to areas like navigation menus, page headers, calls-to-action, embedded media, page scroll, and content sections. Notice if users interact with these elements or skip past them. Assess why some areas get attention vs. others that are ignored. Optimize placement and presentation of critical page regions.

How can session recordings demonstrate the need for web redesigns?

If recordings consistently show users struggling with hard-to-find elements, confusing workflows, and unclear messaging, that indicates the need for a website redesign. Present user recordings to other stakeholders as concrete evidence of usability issues. Demonstrate how a redesigned site could better guide users, reduce frustration, and improve outcomes.

What are some factors to consider when choosing session recording software?

Consider your budget, ease of installation, breadth of features, data privacy protections, customer support access, visual playback capabilities, metrics and analytics provided, ability to share recordings, data export options, and available integrations. Prioritize an intuitive user interface for straightforward analysis. Test different options to determine the best fit.

Should you inform users that you are recording their sessions?

Yes, it is important to be transparent that you are recording user sessions. You can display a notice about session recording during the opt-in process or on your website’s privacy policy page letting visitors know their activities may be recorded. Always provide a clear way for users to opt out of session recording if they do not wish to be recorded.

Disclosure: The articles, guides and reviews on BlowSEO covering topics like SEO, digital marketing, technology, business, finance, streaming sites, travel and more are created by experienced professionals, marketers, developers and finance experts. Our goal is to provide helpful, in-depth, and well-researched content to our readers. You can learn more about our writers and the process we follow to create quality content by visiting our About Us and Content Creation Methodology pages.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *