The Paths

Introduction

The Paths Report is an interactive representation of the paths users took through your site, from the landing page on which they started a visit, through the various pages and key actions they performed, to the end of their visit. The report also shows where along their paths they detoured or exited your site. The Paths Report lets you compare volumes of traffic for each path and discover roadblocks in user experience.

The discovered paths, or fragments of those paths, can be turned into a filter that returns segments of visits in which users followed that path. The paths and segments can be further analyzed using other reports, for example Heat Maps or Session Replays, or measured over time with the Segments Report.

The Concept of Paths

A path is a chain formed out of all values of two (M) meta event types: Section and Action events captured during a user visit. By default, (M) Section events are captured when a URL of a tracked website changes and are based on the part of the URL after website’s domain. (M) Action meta events are, by default, tracked when a user submits a form on a website.

You can explore paths using the Paths Report or use paths to build segments of users who navigated your site in the same way.

Path Example

As an example of a path and path syntax, consider a visit in which a user arrives at a sales page, then registers for an account and leaves the website. The sequence followed by that user might be:

Events Tracked Included as a Step on a Path?
(M) Section=landing-pages/black-friday
Visit “Black Friday” page
Yes
(E) a[1]#button.large.click
Click on “Register” link
No
(M) Section=account/register
Visit “Account Registration” page
Yes
(E) input[2]#email.required.click
Click on “Email Address” field
No
(E) input[2]#email.required.change({value:”john@gmail.com”})
Enter email into “Email Address” field
No
(E) form[1]#register/button[1].click
Click on form ” Submit” button
No
(M) Action=Submitted form: form[1]#register
Form is submitted
Yes
(M) Section=account/success
Visit “Account Successfully Created” page
Yes

(M) Section and Action events from that visit would form together (A) path:

(A) path=^^landing-pages/black-friday^account/register^Submitted form: form[1]#register^account/success^^

You can learn more about the syntax of (A) Path attribute in the article about segmentation using paths.

You could use the Paths Report to see in how many visits users followed the exact same path (marked with black):

paths-example

Customizing Paths

A tracking script can capture all types of events during a visit. However, not all of these events are added to a path. The path provides only a high-level overview of how a user navigated a website. By default a path is composed of Section and Action events (forms submitted) only.

If you would like your paths to include additional interactions which you consider to be of high importance (e.g. adding a product to basket) then you will need to either track them as (M) Action event using the JavaScript API:

uDash.saveMeta('Action','Add To Basket');

or track them by triggering Data Collection responses.

Overview of Paths UI

The Path Report is presented as a display that the user can interact with to analyze the path data in a variety of ways.  This section explains some of the things you can do with this report.

Exploring Paths

The Paths Report allows you to see all paths with one or more visits and to follow selected paths to find out about the visits that followed that path.

paths-explorer

  • 1) When you open the Paths report you see the  Step 1 display, showing the most popular Sections in which users started their visits. The total number of visits (each visit has one path) on which the report is based is displayed under the Step 1 headline.
  • 2) You can click each option listed under a step to explore those paths further. On Step 1, all options will be based on values of Section events. In later steps, options can include also actions. To navigate back on a path, simply click one of the preceding steps.
  • 3) For each step you can see how many visits were tracked with exactly the same path up to that step.
  • 4) Values in grey, displayed on the left side of each step option, show number of visits (19) with a path including that specific step option and the percentage share of that path relative to the total number of sessions displayed under Step 1 (19 / 39 = 48.72%).
  • 5) The percentage value (in bold) on the right side of each step option is also based on a number of visits with a path including that specific step but is relative to the total number of sessions at that step (19 / 19 = 100%).
  • 6) Each path ends with an EXIT option.

To create a segment of visits with a certain path, click the search icon next to the step option name. Read “Segmentation by Paths” below for more details.

Trimming Paths

Trimming allows you to remove from paths all the steps preceding a specified Section or Action.

For example, if there were three landing pages leading to a registration form:

Section=landing-pages/black-friday
Section=landing-pages/xmas-promo
Section=landing-pages/happy-new-year

your paths would be fragmented as the visits would start in three different places (1, left side) :

paths-trimming

By setting the “first step on a path” to (2, right side) “account/registration” you could group those paths together to see what users were doing after visiting the registration page, regardless of what they did before that step.

You can also specify how many steps before the defined step should be preserved.

Setting Max Section Level

It is a common practice that URLs, on which Section events are based, have hierarchical structure in which parts are separated with “/” (slash) and each following part means a subset of a previous set.

For example, looking at the URL below we know that “iPhone” is a phone and “phones” is a category in “electricals” department in the “store”:

mywebsite.com/store/electricals/phones/iPhone.html

The URL above would be saved as (M) Section=store/electricals/phones/iPhone.html and the section’s value would be placed as such as a step on a path.

Information stored in Section value, and therefore in the path’s step, can be too specific for some purposes and lead to high fragmentation of paths. In some cases, instead of focusing which exact phone models users visited we could be interested in phones in general or maybe just any electricals.

In such case, you can set the maximum section level to control the level of information:

Section Value Max Levels Step Value
store/ 1 store/*
store/electricals/phones/iPhone.html 1 store/*
store/electricals/ 2 store/electricals/*
store/electricals/phones/iPhone.html 2 store/electricals/*