When you visit any website, its owner will know where you click, what you type, and how you move your mouse. That’s how websites work: In order to perform actions based on user input, they have to know what that input is.
On its own, that information isn’t all that useful, but many websites today use a service that pulls all of this data together to create session replays of a user’s every move. The result is a video that feels like standing over a user’s shoulder and watching them use the site directly — and what sites can glean from these sorts of tracking tools may surprise you.
Session replay services have been around for over a decade and are widely used. One service, called FullStory, lists popular sites like Zillow, TeeSpring, and Jane as clients on its website. Another, called LogRocket, boasts Airbnb, Reddit, and CarFax, and a third called Inspectlet lists Shopify, ABC, and eBay among its users. They bill themselves as tools for designing sites that are easy to use and increase desired user behavior, such as buying an item. If many users add items to their cart, but then abandon the purchase at a certain rough part of the checkout process, for instance, the service helps site owners figure out how to change the site’s design to nudge users over the checkout line.
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