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Introduction to Journeys
FullStory Journeys help you visualize how users explore your site, showing you step-by-step page navigation and other key interactions along the way. With Journeys, you can answer questions like:
- Are users navigating our site in the way we intended?
- What are the most common navigation paths, and how do they vary by segment?
- How do users arrive at a particular page, and where do they go next?
This is part one of a two-part series on Journeys. In this article, we'll review the elements of a Journey, how to get started, how to analyze your results, and frequently asked questions. In the next, we'll provide some sample Journeys for inspiration so you can get started right away.
The Elements of a Journey
Before you begin, it's helpful to understand the two core elements of a Journey: pages and custom API events. By configuring pages and custom API events, you'll gain the most value from your analyses.
Journeys show you how users navigate from one page to another as they move about your site. Each page represents a URL or a group of similar URLs that follow general patterns across similar page structures. For example, the “Product Detail” page may contain all URLs that match the pattern:
FullStory uses machine learning to identify these patterns and group URLs into pages on your behalf. This doesn’t require any instrumentation on your part; however, you may wish to review your Learned Pages and make changes to their names and rules for clarity. This will help you understand how the pages in your Journeys are configured as you dive into your results.
Custom API Events
Journeys provide incredible insight into your digital experience right out of the box, but you can add even more context by setting up custom API events. Custom API events represent moments that are critical to your user experience, like when users add an item to their cart or complete a purchase. By instrumenting custom API events using the FS.event API, you can capture these moments and visualize them as part of your Journeys.
In addition to page views and custom events, you can also see clicks or views of Named Elements within Journeys. Named Elements let you assign your own names to complex elements like CSS selectors. After you name an element, you can search for it by name when analyzing your data.
To utilize this component in your visualization, start creating Named Elements within your captured sessions. There are two ways to do this: from Inspect Mode or Settings.
While watching a session, click Page Insights at the top of your screen, then Inspect Mode. Click on the element you'd like to name, then select Name Element.
Alternatively, you can achieve this from Settings > Data Management > Elements, then click Create element. Add the selector and name your element.
Named Elements in Journeys
With Named Elements created, you can utilize them in two core ways:
- Start or end a journey with users clicking or seeing a particular element:
- Choose to view clicked and seen events within any journey:
Getting Started With Journeys
To get started, go to the Journeys tab and click New Journey. Then, configure your settings.
1. Journeys can help you understand how users navigate from a given starting point or toward a given end point. Choose "Starts with" or "Ends with" based on the path you'd like to analyze.
2. You can start or end your Journey with a specific page, a specific event, or the most common entry/exit pages or events for your site. This dynamically generates the five most common entry and exit paths based on your data, and it's a great option when you'd like to learn more about how the majority of users navigate your experience.
3. Use the checkboxes to add or remove Pages, Custom API events or Named Elements from your visualization.
4. If needed, adjust the advanced settings for your Journey. You likely won't need to edit these often.
5. Sometimes, it may appear that a user visits the same page back to back (for example, when they refresh the page in their browser). "Combine repeated steps" consolidates those repeats to minimize clutter in your Journey, but you can disable this to show repeated steps if needed.
6. Finally, find people who performed these events during the same session or across any number of sessions. “Within the same complete session” is the default behavior. This is helpful for seeing how users explore your site in one sitting, whereas “across any number of sessions” can expand to show the user journey across multiple visits. See “What defines a session in FullStory?” to learn more about sessions.
Click Explore, and you're off to the races!
Hide Events from your Visualization
Within your visualization, you have the ability to remove specific events from view to filter out the less significant or redundant events in the user journey in order to help focus on those that matter most. Hiding events will temporarily remove them from view but it will not permanently eliminate them from the Journey.
When to hide events
Events triggered by your system purely for tracking purposes are often good candidates to hide as they can be noisy or clutter your analysis. This allows you to drill down on essential events, like actions initiated by end-users that indicate important behaviors about their digital experience.
How to hide events
Within your visualization, select the vertical ellipsis menu icon. Click the option to “Hide event” and confirm the selection.
Just like that, your visualization becomes less noisy!
Hiding events will temporarily remove them from view but it will not permanently eliminate them from the Journey.
You can view your Hidden events above Advanced settings.
Analyzing Your Results
FullStory visualizes your results with an interactive Journey, showing you how users navigate from page to page and encounter custom API events along the way. Use the features below to dive into your data!
Filtering by segment and time frame
Use the dropdowns at the top of your Journey to filter by segment and time frame. This allows you to focus your results on a specific cohort of users or period of time. In this example, we’re looking at Google Chrome Users over the past month.
Understanding the visualization
Here comes the really fun part–seeing each step in your Journey visualized on the screen! FullStory shows you up to 5 steps in your Journey by default; however, you can add up to 5 more using the blue “Add Step” button to augment your data.
From here you can explore exactly how many users started your Journey, the most common steps they take, where users exit your site, and more. Let’s take a look at an example to see what we can learn. Here, we’re looking at the first two steps in a Journey of users who start on our Homepage.
1. We see that users begin our Journey in 1,300 sessions.
2. Next, we see that users continue the Journey in 77.7% of those sessions. In 22.3%, they exit right away.
3. Finally, we see that of those who continue, 77% proceed to our Market Product Listing Page (PLP) and 19% add a product to their cart.
Note: By default, Journeys show the total number of sessions that match your criteria. If you change the advanced settings to look for users who completed each step across any number of sessions instead of within the same session, you'll see the total number of users listed instead.
To explore specific user experiences in more detail, you can watch sessions right from your Journey. Click on specific steps to filter your Journey and generate a session playlist. As you click, the Journey will update all downstream data to reflect only those users who took your highlighted path. After you've chosen your path, click “Watch Sessions” or simply scroll to the bottom of your screen. FullStory will generate a list of sessions that match your selected criteria. Use the play button to jump right into session replay.
Want to watch sessions from users who exited your Journey? Click on the pink exit bar after any step to target those users!
To reset your Journey, simply click the "x" next to your selected events to clear your filters.
Explore as a funnel
For deeper analysis, you can quickly explore any series of events in your Journey as a funnel. Funnels provide conversion rates, median time to convert, and opportunities to improve your conversions. Use this option when you’re interested in seeing how successfully users move through a defined series of steps. To explore steps as a funnel, click on at least two steps to build a path. Then, click “Explore as Funnel” from the vertical ellipses.
Explore as a segment
You can also explore events in your Journey as a segment. Segments are saved searches that you can access again and again. They also generate cards that provide insight into user frustration signals, device usage, page performance, and more. Use this option when you’d like to analyze characteristics of users who performed a series of steps in more detail. To explore steps as a segment, click on the step(s). Then, click “Explore as Segment” from the vertical ellipses.
Looking for inspiration? Look no further! Check out part two of our Journeys series to learn how Product Managers, UX Designers and eCommerce customers use Journeys to analyze their data.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Journeys work with single page applications (SPAs) or mobile apps?
Yes. For native mobile applications, you can visualize the user journey by instrumenting custom API events via the FS.event API. For SPAs, you can use pages if your site uses unique URLs for various views or you can instrument custom API events via the FS.event API.
Can FullStory still capture Journeys for users who change devices or browsers?
Yes. If you identify your users with the FS.identify API, FullStory will understand when the same user visits your site from different devices and browsers.
Are “starts with” and “ends with” the same thing as “entry” and “exit?”
Not necessarily! Let’s say you set up a Journey to understand how users navigate from your Pricing Page. It’s possible that a user enters your site and begins their session on the Homepage before they visit your Pricing Page. FullStory will capture their activity in the Journey from the Pricing Page forward. Similarly, if a Journey ends with a Demo Request Form, FullStory will show you all of the steps a user takes leading up to that point. They may continue on and take other steps before exiting their session, but your Journey will only display data up to your chosen end point.
Why don’t I see any available Pages or Events when creating my Journey?
There are a few reasons why you might encounter this issue.
Pages haven’t been configured. If you’re new to FullStory, it can take up to 24 hours after you start capturing sessions for the Learned Pages algorithm to configure Pages on your behalf. We’d recommend waiting a day and then trying again, or configuring your own Page Settings if you’re really eager.
Events haven’t been configured. If you’d like to start or end a Journey with a custom event, you need to configure API events first using the FS.Event API After you set them up, you’ll be able to use them in your Journeys. Note that custom API events are not retroactive, so events will begin appearing at the time they are configured.
Why do I see a message that says “No results found?”
This occurs when there isn’t any data available for pages or events during your selected time frame. Perhaps your account had hit its session quota and data capture was paused during that time, or perhaps enough sessions hadn’t been captured yet for a newly created page or event. Check your page and custom event definitions and try a different time frame to generate results.
There’s a step in my Journey labeled “Other.” What does this mean?
FullStory will automatically show you the top 5 steps that users take at any point in a Journey. Sometimes, you’ll see a sixth step that says “Other.” This step groups together data for all of the users who navigate somewhere other than one of your 5 most common paths. Check out the example below. Here we see that 1% of users navigate toward an end point other than the top 5 listed above it.
If you’d like to explore that data in more detail, you can set up a metric or dimensionality dashboard card to dig into your data! Create a metric that looks for Page Views where the previous page view was the preceding step in your Journey. Then, group your chart by Page to see all results in a bar chart.
There’s a custom event in my Journey that I’m not familiar with. How can I better understand what it is?
Journeys show all Custom API Events that fire, regardless of whether it was an event triggered by the user or something your site's code fires to track a specific state. To better understand what this event means, click the event to highlight that path and watch sessions. That event will be called out in pink in the session replay event stream, so you can clearly see what it's referring to.
If you'd prefer not to see that event or others in your journey, you can un-check Custom API Events in the settings to focus only on page views.