Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Web session recording comes of age

I think I first looked at website session recording or session capture as it's also known  back in 2007 when a company called Speed Trap were in the business of web analytics. It was really a side offering to their main suite of analysis tools that didn't look dissimilar to Google Anayltics does today. Back then it didn't work. It created movie files of a very narrow subset of user sessions that you could, in theory replay at your leisure to highlight user struggle and experience. Looking back it was too far ahead of it's time. Some 8 years later, and having seen a few session recording tool contenders* I've just witnessed what we'd always looked for in such a tool. Visual Website Optimizer (VWO) from Wingify now offers a Session Recorder as part of it's already very agile testing toolkit.

*For balance let me just list the other tools I have used for session recording ;  Tealeaf, Click tale and SessionCam.


With VWO, basically you tell it what page to watch and within minutes (not hours and days) you have a selection of user sessions to replay based on multiple devices and platforms. I was immediately hooked. No jerkiness, no blank screens, no style sheet dropping just a slick, smooth replay of the users every mouse move and click. I've already waxed lyrical about VWOs heat map tool, which integrates nicely with this tool. It's fairly addictive and I found myself replaying 24 sessions in one sitting!!

The payoff?

Having watched those sessions on a checkout page it became obvious we immediately had an issue. Every single visitor without exception was missing a credit card type field and missing the validation messages associated with this. So I fired up VWOs AB testing tool and created an alternative version of the checkout page with this card field in a more obvious place. Immediately we achieved a xx% improvement in sales performance.

Below are screenshots of the session replay in action. The red lines are the mouse moves. The blue bubbles are the left clicks.