Analyze Multiple User Journeys With the Datadog Sankey Visualization | Datadog

Analyze multiple user journeys with the Datadog Sankey visualization

Author Addie Beach
Author Jamie Milstein

Published: March 12, 2024

Funnels can be powerful tools for analyzing your UX, but figuring out exactly which user journeys you want to study can be challenging. Even if you have an ideal journey in mind, users often take steps you don’t expect. As a result, your funnels—and therefore, your optimization efforts—can easily miss the most influential pages in your application. Indeed, how do you build the best possible funnel when there are thousands of paths users can take after any given page?

The Sankey visualization page in Datadog Product Analytics gives you high-level overviews of common paths users take in your app, helping you find key journeys to further analyze. You can view a graph based on your most popular views, or generate customized visualizations by selecting a page on your site to view paths to or from. With Sankey diagrams, you can identify which routes users find the most accessible, whether that’s because these paths have the most intuitive navigation or because they provide the most visually pleasing experience. When you decide on the journeys you want to study in greater depth, you can then easily create funnels directly from a Sankey diagram or pivot to Datadog Real User Monitoring (RUM) to determine exactly which factors—such as design choices or performance issues—might be driving users to choose one route or another.

In this post, we’ll show you how you can use the Sankey visualization to:

The Sankey visualization page in Product Analytics shows the flow of users throughout your system as they navigate your app. The wildcard option is selected by default for Sankey diagrams—with this option, Datadog searches through all the views in your app and automatically highlights the most popular journeys. This makes it easy to determine a starting point for your UX analyses when you don’t have a predefined sequence in mind.

By choosing a specific view, however, you can easily customize the Sankey visualization. Simply select a page in your app, then determine whether you want this to be the starting or ending point for your diagram. To change the scope of your diagram, you can also specify the total number of steps you want to see before or after the selected page, as well as the maximum number of views displayed per step. For more in-depth analyses on certain segments of your user base, you can also filter the sessions included in your diagram by characteristics such as device type, environment, country, and software version.

A Sankey visualization graph showing the steps users took before visiting the cart page, filtered to desktop US user sessions in production.

Let’s say that you’re attempting to direct users to a page displaying seasonal inventory in your shopping app. You’ve set up a banner on your homepage advertising your seasonal offerings, but you want to see whether users are actually finding it useful. By creating a Sankey diagram with the seasonal inventory page as the endpoint, you can see that users are actually arriving there through the deals page instead of the homepage as you had intended. This gives you a starting point for further UX design decisions. For example, maybe you want to test out giving your homepage banner a more prominent position. Or, alternatively, perhaps you want to focus on making the deals page even more accessible and well-designed to help users more easily find the information you want them to see via the routes they already prefer.

Easily generate and analyze funnels with Product Analytics

When you’ve identified the journeys from the Sankey visualization that you want to study, you can easily leverage Datadog Product Analytics for deeper analysis. For example, to take a closer look at one of these journeys, you can create a funnel directly from a Sankey diagram by clicking the Build Funnel button and then selecting the views you want to incorporate. You’re then able to look at detailed funnel data based on the journey you chose. On the funnel analysis panel, you can view conversion metrics and graphs alongside performance data, Error Tracking issues, frustration signals, and software version information.

The analysis panel for a funnel in Product Analytics, with conversion data displayed.

Alternatively, if you want to dive deeper into a specific step on a Sankey diagram, you can select a view on the diagram to access a number of additional tools. To get a better look at what your individual users are seeing and experiencing, you can watch a sample Session Replay or query RUM Explorer sessions that include this view. On the other hand, if you want to perform additional high-level analyses, you can pivot to a Heatmap for this view in order to assess trends in popular page elements as well as user clicks and scrolls.

Let’s say that while looking at a Sankey diagram, you discover that the seasonal inventory page is the most popular view in your app. By clicking on the step for the inventory page, you’re able to quickly access the Heatmap for that view. Here, you can see a ranking of the top-clicked elements on the seasonal inventory page, enabling you to dig deeper into user trends. Additionally, you can also access data about frustration signals to troubleshoot elements that may be creating problems for your users.

Create useful funnels with Datadog Sankey visualizations

With the Sankey visualization option in Datadog Product Analytics, you can easily explore all the different routes your users took, helping you design more relevant funnels that provide insight into your most popular paths. You can create funnels directly from the Sankey visualization page when you want to dive deeper into a specific path, or use RUM tools to dig deeper into your UX findings.

To get started with the Datadog Sankey visualization, you can use our documentation. Or, if you’re not yet a Datadog user, you can sign 14-day today.