Session Replay

What is session replay for enterprises?

June 15, 2021 By: Alex Torres

What is session replay?

Session replay, sometimes called user replay, replicates a user’s experience navigating a website or application. The video-like playback is recreated from events such as clicks, scrolls, and taps.

While high-fidelity session replay recordings help teams understand where users focus, what elements they click on, and what they ignore. It provides insight into what prompted unusual mouse activity such as rapid scrolling and rage clicking, both signs of customer friction. For security reasons, session replay technology masks sensitive information, such as credit card fields and passwords. The technology is especially useful in understanding why users are unable to register for an account, or why a button isn’t working

People access websites and applications from a variety of different channels–across different browser types and devices. Session replay can help teams understand differences in screen resolution, browser window size, browsers versions, device orientation, and other elements. 

Why is session replay necessary?

Session replay is an important qualitative analytics tool for UX designers practicing data-driven design. With these tools, UX teams are better equipped to pinpoint design flaws and friction points overlooked by conventional analytics, as well as drive conversion rates by optimizing the user experience

Analyzing user sessions can help organizations as they engage in major initiatives such as legacy application or ecommerce replatforming, or on a small scale, such as understanding how a design problem or technical error is impacting a specific user segment. 

Traditional analytics tools provide information about visitors, bounce rates, and conversion, but they fail to capture what is actually happening with the user experience. This can help teams across an enterprise understand how issues such as poorly placed CTA buttons, confusing copy, broken links, choppy workflows, and slow page loading times affect user behavior. 

As customer journeys have become more complex, session replay has helped enterprises and other organizations better step into the shoes of their customers and build empathy. The technology can also help identify fraudulent behavior, understand behavioral patterns, and study a website’s usability. 

How does session replay work? What is the DOM? 

Session replay tools collect information from both events and assets in order to reproduce a session. 

Events

User sessions are not videos but recreations of events. An event occurs when information is transferred, which occurs when users take an action such as swiping on the screen or clicking on a button. On complex websites, hundreds, or even thousands, of events are occurring every session. 

Assets

The DOM, or Document Object Model, is where a website’s or application’s HTML, CSS, and JavaScript are located. Each event–including scrolls, taps, clicks, and keystrokes–alter the DOM’s structure. Each time the DOM changes, it’s called a DOM mutation. The technology records how the DOM changes through a session. This recreates the website in question as well as each individual event or action taken by the user. Everything that is a part of the website–HTML, CSS, images, etc.–are considered assets. Saving assets makes it possible to reproduce older versions of the web page or app as well.

Who uses session replay? Which industries?

Product managers, ecommerce directors, UX/UI designers, engineers, digital marketers, agents, developers, CRO specialist, IT/Ops, business, and others can benefit from using session recording technology. Platforms like Quantum Metric helps teams align around the customer’s perspective in a way that other technologies can’t.

Because user sessions are easy to share, they can help managers and executives based on easy-to-watch qualitative evidence. The technology  is popular in a number of industries, including tech, retail, retail banking, financial services, travel, hospitalityquick service restaurants (QSRs), telecommunications, and media. 

Too many user sessions to choose from?

Watching too many user sessions, however, can be taxing. This is why teams need to invest in a platform like Quantum Metric, which shows how many other users are experiencing similar frictions. By pairing session replay with anomaly detection tools and other technologies, teams can more quickly surface the problems that have the greatest impact on their business’s bottom line. 

If you’re interested in learning more, check out our enterprise guide to session replay.

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