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8 session recordings case studies and examples

Recordings can help in a variety of ways: from spotting quick UX fixes to finding errors that cause huge drops in conversions, here is a collection of case studies and examples to help you see their true potential.

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Last updated

19 Sep 2023

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1. Spotting an easy-to-miss mobile issue

The context: sometimes, user experience (UX) problems stem from differences in how your app or website displays and functions on different screens. 

When your analytics reveals a conversion or task completion problem specific to users of certain devices, screen recordings will show why that is happening.

The team at Plutio used Hotjar Recordings to investigate weaknesses in mobile users’ core metrics. They replayed session recordings from mobile traffic to make sure the experience was consistent with the desktop one.

What recordings revealed: one of the session replays showed a user trying to close a mobile menu, but accidentally tapping the main logo, which resulted in an unintended page refresh. The home page link was too close to some navigation menu items, and mobile users were clicking on the former by mistake.

<#Freeze-frame from a recording showing an accidental user tap (the white oval) on a logo
Freeze-frame from a recording showing an accidental user tap (the white oval) on a logo

The results: this was an easy-to-fix but problematic error for Plutio, because users were being returned to the homepage incessantly when they didn’t want to. 

A simple UI change on the mobile version solved that problem and improved UX on the page instantly. Sometimes, small changes on your mobile site can trigger a significant increase in conversion rates.

If, however, the recordings point to a product problem that can’t be fixed on certain screens, use in-app messaging to inform users about the screen sizes that provide the best experience.

2. A quick UX fix that saved sign-ups

The context: your users may be experiencing bugs that you’re unaware of, which go beyond device and screen differences. 

These will add friction to their product experience and lead them off the ideal customer journey path. 

The trouble with bugs is they’re not always easy for your quality assurance (QA) team and developers to replicate off the back of reported descriptions. This is where screen recordings of affected and frustrated user experiences help.

When Audiense’s Head of Product noticed a sudden drop-off on the sign-up page, they went straight to recordings to understand what was happening.

What recordings revealed: after just a handful of sessions, the Audiense team saw that the password validator feature was broken on the sign-up form—which meant that people could not finalize their sign-up process. This, in turn, had caused conversions to plummet.

The results: the team fixed the bug within hours and brought conversions back to life. But it didn’t end there: whenever releasing a new feature, the Audiense team now makes a point of watching around 100-300 sessions and taking notes, to spot not only bugs but also opportunities for improvement.  

 Read the full story

Pro tip: spotting bugs is even easier with console tracking. 

Identify errors and understand what’s causing them before they become problems by creating a Recording segment to track new errors on your most important flows. Then, watch those recordings to see exactly when the errors happen. You can view those errors in the console while watching recordings to find sessions with specific errors using the new errors filter.

Open the console from the recording player to understand where the issue comes from, fix the issue, and run a usability test to validate the fix.

3. Using recordings and heatmaps to increase conversion rate

The context: the UX team at software as a service (SaaS) platform CCV Shop generates leads through landing pages, and they used recordings and heatmaps together to increase conversions.

What recordings revealed: after using heatmaps to understand the larger context of on-page behavior, the team reviewed recordings to find smaller bugs and issues they needed to fix.  

The results: using data from both heatmaps and recordings, the team was able to A/B test changes, and implement successful variations. A few rounds of optimization led to a +38% in conversion rate on their marketing website, from 1.3% to 1.8%—extremely close to their 2% conversion goal.

→ Read the full story

4. Understand the cause of low engagement and make data-backed decisions

The context: your team has done a fantastic job releasing a new feature. The problem is, since its release, this new feature shows lower engagement than you anticipated.

How to use Recordings: using your product analytics data, segment your users based on feature usage and activity levels, and categorize the lowest as 'at risk' and the highest as 'power users'. You can also prioritize features to unlock new opportunities that increase user engagement. 

By watching multiple session recordings from users in a specific segment, you’ll start to understand why some are not engaging. These user insights will help you make improvements to every stage of your marketing funnel.

Then simply resegment your groups by other characteristics (for example, by use case, cohort, or product tier) and cross-reference.

Ask yourself: 

  • What are power users doing that similar at-risk users are not? 

  • How can you improve the experience of the latter group and prevent churn

The result: if a feature shows low usage across segments, session recordings will tell you if it’s down to a bug or a UI problem—in which case it can be fixed by your dev team.

If it’s not, it could indicate that your users just don’t need that feature.

Pro tip: run a targeted in-app microsurvey like the one below to get customer feedback and really understand the problem.

A Hotjar in-app Survey

If user feedback reveals a need for the feature but a lack of accessibility, improve the UI, and create onboarding experiences to help guide users to it. 

If it doesn’t, consider removing the feature—or changing your marketing strategy to attract an audience that would value it.

Increase product adoption with session replays

5. Fixing issues when replatforming 10,000 users

The context: the team at Intelliquip had been working on a new registration portal for a client. On go-live day, they needed to make sure everything worked properly as the platform switch was going to affect nearly 10,000 users.

<#Now that’s what we call multi-tasking: one of Intelliquip’s team members watching Hotjar user videos, with lunch, on a treadmill.
Now that’s what we call multi-tasking: one of Intelliquip’s team members watching Hotjar user videos, with lunch, on a treadmill.

What recordings revealed: after the first 600 or so users got onboarded, support calls started coming through. The team immediately jumped on watching Hotjar recordings and noticed a huge failure path: users who did not read the instructions provided didn't realize they had to confirm their email to progress and just kept getting stuck in an endless loop.  

The results: with data from recordings, Intelliquip could make changes to the code almost on the fly, redeploy, watch, and start again until the process was error-free. In the end, all remaining users were onboarded successfully after a final change was pushed to live.

Read the full story

6. Simplify and shorten your signup flow to remove friction

The context: simplifying your signup flow has a big impact on the signup completion rate. As long ago as 2010, Expedia discovered that removing a single line in their registration form saved $12 million

Most common issues that make users abandon the signup flow are:

  • Unnecessary or too many data fields 

  • Too many steps or screens that make the subscribing process feel long

  • Having to enter the same data over and over again 

  • Field validation rules not working properly

How to use Recordings: if you’re losing users during signup, check session recordings to identify the points where users are dropping out and what the potential problems might be.

How can you fix it?

  • Collect necessary data only after signup (using a welcome screen to personalize onboarding, for example)

  • Add progress bars to your form design when using multiple steps. Also, try to consolidate steps without overwhelming users with too many fields. 

  • Offer signup through third-party profiles (like Facebook or Google)

  • Make sure there are no bugs in your signup process

The result: below is an example of how a welcome screen might look. Using that, you can collect more data about your ideal user profile and personalize their onboarding path based on their needs. 

Collecting data after signup means your signup flow will ask for minimum information only and provide a better experience.

#Kontentino in-app welcome screen built with Userpilot
Kontentino in-app welcome screen built with Userpilot

7. Drive feature discovery with recordings and native tooltips

The context: feature discovery is an essential part of product adoption. If users don’t realize what your app has to offer, they won’t get the full value. 

How to use Recordings: use session recordings to increase engagement by identifying where users seem to be in need of assistance—for example, by scouring your FAQs or help center, or by hovering for a long time over the navigation menu. 

Maybe they're looking for a specific feature they can't seem to find.

The result: if it’s a widespread problem that correlates with low task completion rates, you might want to take another look at your entire UI.

If it’s more specific that that, and the recordings suggest that the user’s confusion is appearing at particular friction points, you can fix that with in-app guidance messages.

For example, native tooltips: those flickering spotlights that draw the users' attention to a specific point on the UI. Then, when hovered over, they display a short message (and a call to action, why not?).

Native tooltips might look something like this:

#Kommunicate tooltip to announce new feature
Kommunicate tooltip to announce new feature

Use tooltips to give subtle hints on what's new inside the UI and help users discover new features easily.

Pro tip: filter session recordings to narrow down who is struggling, and when. That way, you can push targeted help to different user segments.

Hotjar gives you the opportunity to narrow down recordings on a wide range of filters, including user attributes, frustration and engagement score, errors, behavior, and even users who were part of a Google Optimize Experiment.

8. Improve onboarding with in-app guidance where needed

The context: perhaps your adoption problem doesn’t stem from low feature discovery, but from users failing to reach the activation point during onboarding (experiencing the product value by engaging with key features for the first time).

For SaaS businesses, not getting users engaged and activated quickly enough is a major cause of early churn. 

But that can be fixed.

How to use Recordings: first, identify the cause of low activation rates by watching a variety of session recordings from churned users: 

  • Identify where users drop off on the journey (do they even start the journey?)

  • Rule out bugs and UI issues

  • Identify elements that might be causing friction in your UX (going back and forth between pages for example)

Once you have a list of potential issues, start addressing them. 

In-app guidance, like the tooltips we mentioned above, can help guide users on the shortest path to activation, based on their use case.

But you can't (and shouldn't!) clutter your UI with tooltips everywhere. It’ll defeat the purpose of a tooltip.

Combine multiple UI patterns such as modals, checklists, or specific feature interactive walkthroughs to improve your activation rate by offering help and guidance when the user needs it. 

Complementing a checklist with an interactive walkthrough is a great way to onboard new users.

First, create a checklist that shows the users the steps they need to take. Then simply use a sequence of tooltips to guide users through completing each step.

#Kommunicate onboarding checklist
Kommunicate onboarding checklist

The secret is to let the user 'ask' for the guided walkthrough by engaging with your checklist.

#Kommunicate interactive guide for customizing the chat widget
Kommunicate interactive guide for customizing the chat widget

Product adoption tools (think Walkme or alternatives) allow you to build out this type of in-app guidance and trigger patterns without relying on your developers to custom code them in-app.  

The result: session recordings help you identify problems during onboarding and in-app guidance offers help inside the app and improves the onboarding experience.