"Make it stop! Make it STOP!"
— Product Manager

"Ohhhh ... my ... that’s horrifying. I can’t believe we shipped it like that."
— Designer

"Ok, I am absolutely going to fix that right after this meeting."
— Marketer

The team at FullStory earns the quotes like those above by doing something we call Game Film. I’ll tell you more about it momentarily. First, a story ...

How Can You Coach Your Team If You Don't Go to Games?

Imagine a team of football players in full pads, dripping with sweat. Got it? Sweaty football players.

Now imagine you are their coach. It’s your job to prepare them in every way possible. You eat, sleep, and breathe the game, and you are deeply committed to making sure they are great and improving every…single…week. Your career depends on their success.

But what if you didn’t go to the games? Like, ever. You run practices, draw up plays, and pick the starting lineup. But, come game time, you don’t bother showing up. You just hope that things will work out as you planned, though at best you will only know whether the team won or lost a few weeks later. That would be crazy, right?

As you may have already realized, we’ve got a metaphor going:

  • Sweaty football team = your sweaty web app or digital product
  • You are the coach = you are responsible for your app’s success
  • You don’t go to games = you never see how users actually experience your app

How can you really know what’s working (and not working) in your app if you can’t see things from your users’ perspective?

Replay Their Digital Experience

FullStory is like having "instant replay" for your web app. For the first time, you can see the digital experience—exactly how it happened—from your user’s perspective. There is an enormous difference between watching real user interactions versus staring confusedly at yet another analytics dashboard. Numbers and charts are too abstract to spark change; they don’t paint a captivating picture. Actually watching a user struggle to do something (you thought was) very basic in your app is unbelievably clarifying and motivating. FullStory gives you the fresh empathy that comes from seeing things through a user’s eyes.

With FullStory, you can bring your team together, review the digital experience just how it happened, and make definitive calls about how to improve your game product.

Game Film With FullStory

What’s Game Film? A couple of times each week, the entire team gathers around a huge screen, and we review several FullStory sessions at random. We force ourselves to see exactly what it was like for our customers to use FullStory. (Yes, FullStory can record itself.)

It isn’t always pleasant, but it certainly is informative. Bad usability, bugs, and high latency are all too apparent. So, when we receive support tickets reporting problems, we’re generally already aware of them ahead of time, often with solutions already in the development pipeline.

We keep score with a simple, fun metric. If anybody on the FullStory team visibly winces while watching a user session, we record it as 1 wince. Each Game Film meeting has a wincelist that tracks the number of sessions we review, and the total number of involuntary winces that were triggered amongst our team. The resulting metric is average winces per session. We have concrete goals to reduce that number, say, from 0.8 to 0.6.

You can do Game Film, too, if your team wants to try FullStory and if you're already a FullStory user, get a game film kit. Grab a helmet.

Updated March 29, 2019. Originally published November 14, 2014.