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User behaviour reviews: Why are they so important?

So you’re ready to make your eCommerce website shine. You have a vision, you know the journey you want to take it – but where should you start? During our discovery process, we conduct user behaviour reviews. These reviews give us a snapshot of how users interact with your website. They show us what users find useful, where they may become frustrated and give us a good platform to start transforming your website. 

Why do we conduct user behaviour reviews? 

A passive, uninterrupted observation of their behaviour, user behaviour reviews help us make sense of the gaps between a user’s expectations and their actual experience on the website.

The reviews come in the form of recordings – real-time observations of how a user interacts with the website. Each recording lasts anywhere from 30 seconds to 20 minutes – sometimes longer. Depending on the website traffic, there can be thousands of recordings. It’s neither feasible nor required to watch all recordings and we use different filters to narrow down as much as possible. Typically, viewing between 25 – 50 recordings, we can see both negative and positive recurring patterns. 

Narrowing it down 

We give each recording a relevance score. This score uses various data points to estimate how useful a recording will be during the review. In doing this, we can access the most useful recordings.

Looking at a specific date range also proves useful, as it provides relevant information to a user’s behaviour. We can look at dates focusing on feature releases, sales events and any other activity that may affect behaviour.

Shorter recordings (up to 1 minute) don’t usually provide us with much detail. To combat this, we look at the average time spend on the site through Google Analytics to set a timeframe that will provide us with worthy data,

Filter for page names to keep your study focused. If you are trying to understand the behaviour during checkout, include the ‘Confirmation’ page in the filter. Similarly, the filter for My account pages will show recordings where the users are dealing with account related issues. Combine filters like Landing Page, Visited page and Exit Page to isolate full journeys.

To keep the study focus, we filter for page names. For example, if we want to understand user behaviour during checkout, we’ll include the Confirmation page in the filter. The My Account pages will show recordings where users are dealing with account related issues. Through combining filters like Landing page, Visited page and Exit page – we can isolate full journeys and study them. 

How to select the right videos to watch?

Despite setting the filters you could still end up with hundreds, if not thousands of videos. How do we pick the right one?

It’s possible to still have a lot of recordings despite setting filters. So how can we filter these down even more?

  • Longer videos usually provide more context
  • Use the Hotjar columns like relevance, frustration, engagement metres to determine the more important ones.
  • Looking at the pages and actions count gives an idea how busy the user has been on the site. 
  • Making sure you have the right balance between devices based on a usage split. If 60% of the users are on mobile, your observations should also be based in a similar ratio.

What is it that we are looking for?

First and foremost, the recordings tell us what the user is doing on the website. When we look deeper, we can see key moments where the user makes a choice based on their experience on the website. We can see if a user has any issues here. For example, if we see a user has clicked something a lot in a short space of time – they’re having issues selecting something.


We see a lot of users having trouble understanding the layout or design. As a merchant, it can be a humbling experience to watch users fail at what you think are easy, workable designs. 


We can spot confusions when users are doing multiple top-bottom-top scrolls or few back and forth on the pages. It can either be a navigation issue, the user doesn’t see expected information or they’re looking for an expected CTA.


It’s common to see users make a lot of mistakes. As stakeholders, we use our website very often – but keep in mind that the user is doing so for the first time. They may have their own expectations as to how the website should work. 


This is an obvious one. Sometimes we can see issues with functionality or design. We could notice some users trying to find a workaround to these bugs, which may not be possible. These bugs show us how motivated a user is to follow through with a purchase.

How it all comes together

We make note of all the important actions the user has performed. From this point we can speculate what the user was intending to do. Then we look at our other sources of discovery to corroborate the speculation with rationale. Finally, we make our suggestions for improvements. These points are then incorporated into the final designs. 

Ready to start conducting your own user behaviour reviews? You’ll see the benefits as soon as you do…

If you’d like to find out how partnering with JH could move your business forward, give us a call on +44(0)115 7940060 or email us at