What drives rage clicks? How users signal struggle, frustration online
Tips and Tricks · 8 min read

What drives rage clicks? How users signal struggle, frustration online

Justin Owings
Posted December 11, 2019

Turning user frustration signals into actionable insights

When it comes to bad shopping experiences online, these days "Aint nobody got time for that! Unfortunately, very few shoppers actually complain when they are dissatisfied; most simply churn without saying anything[1]. This lack of feedback leaves brands in the dark—pondering high bounce rates and low conversion rates in confusion.

So how do you identify and fix pain points quickly?

One of the best ways to find (and fix) frustration on your site—or mobile app—is through searching in FullStory for session recordings containing "Rage Clicks". Rage Clicks are moments when users repeatedly click, click, click—and tap—on a website, mobile app, or any other digital experience because they're frustrated. For many product managers, this metric is a game-changer.

While session replay can't pick up on mouse slamming, keyboard pounding, exasperated muttering, or other physical abuse of computer hardware, clicking multiple times on a specific element on your site is the nearest digital equivalent. Rapid-fire clicks on your site can be a clear signal of a frustrated computer user.

Rage Clicks are the virtual equivalent of mashing an unresponsive button on a vending machine—only it's a mouse button. They are a digital signal of a user's annoyance with your site's UX.

You can search[2] all your sessions in FullStory for Rage Click events and then watch replays of those sessions to analyze and understand the user behavior that precedes the event.

Notably, Rage Clicks are not evidence of some psychological phenomenon or that your customers are angry people (though that could be the case). Rage Clicks are a simple, universal indicator that the customer experience could be improved.

Rage Clicks reveal actionable insights

You just saw that you had an increase in your bounce rate. What's going on? Is it an indication that users are getting frustrated? Is something broken on the page? How do you know? And what are you to do about it?

You need more information and that's where FullStory comes in. Session replay allows you to replay the experiences of users on your site so that you can tease apart what's really going on. Of course, you have thousands of sessions, so which ones should you watch? You can search for Rage Click events in FullStory to narrow down those sessions that are most likely going wrong, allowing you to focus your efforts and save time.

For example, if you see your bounce rate is alarmingly high on a specific landing page, you can search for and watch sessions in FullStory for users that visited that specific landing page. You can further narrow down the resulting list of sessions to those that contain Rage Clicks. These sessions will have a high probability of containing user information you can immediately put to work to understand what's damaging the digital customer experience—so that you can fix it.

When you watch sessions that contain Rage Clicks, there's a high probability of uncovering an insight on which you can take action—a.k.a. the elusive "actionable insights"—because Rage Clicks happen alongside the frustrating experience.

Since you're able to see that frustrating experience through FullStory session replay, you get the nuanced, detailed information you need to both understand what's going wrong and figure out what you can do to fix it, reduce UI confusion, and increase conversion rates.

Case study » Improve activation rate through Rage Clicks

Ty Magnin of Appcues relates how Rage Clicks helped surface bounce rate issues—issues that never would have been clear otherwise.

The signup form on Appcues—after collecting your email address—used to display a small bit of text on the submit button after you clicked it. The button would display, “Warming up our engines...”

As the Appcues team discovered, this subtle bit of copy was actually confusing users.

On clicking the "Create your first experience" button users had to wait a meaningful amount of time; they struggled to intuit that “warming up" implied "things are happening—please be patient.” As a result, Appcues saw that users were Rage Clicking the submit button over and over—all while the site's backend was trying to process a fair amount of data to set up their account in the app.

What was intended to be a helpful, human bit of copy ended up having the opposite effect. Users, confused by the text on the button, were expressing their frustration by clicking the button repeatedly—and leaving.

To fix this, the team quickly coded up a new bit of copy to display after the button was clicked. Now, when you sign up for an Appcues account, you get the text: “Thanks! You'll be redirected in a sec.”

That simple change in copy[3] helped to clarify what was happening for users, eliminating Appcues’ onboarding Rage Click problem and bringing activation rates back up.

Where Rage Clicks happen the most within a digital experience

Where do Rage Clicks happen most? While a wide variety of things can lead to user rage, below are some common points that spur Rage Clicks.

  • Dead time: Like the Appcues example, whenever a user is not in control of your site and it's unclear what's happening, you may see a flurry of Rage Clicks. The quintessential example is waiting on a video to load. Impatience mounts quickly and before you know it click click click.

If you're waiting for external input or loading data, make that clear to your users before they conclude your site is simply broken.

  • Misleading buttons: Rage Clicks on site elements often indicate that a user expects that element to do something. Perhaps a CSS selector is misbehaving and making an element look like something that should be clicked.

Sometimes it can help you discover a more efficient route through your web site or app (i.e. a digital desire path).

  • Dead links: If you have text that looks like a link but isn't, prepare for lots of clicking as users click click click expecting something to happen.

  • Anywhere you have interactivity: Whether it's finely scrubbing a video or audio or expanding and contracting a sidebar, Rage Clicks on interactive site elements can clue you into places where you could make your product easier to use.

Repeatedly tapping through a widget on your app (i.e. a calendar) could trigger a Rage Click event that may not seem overtly "frustrating”; however, ask yourself if there might be an opportunity to reduce clicks and improve the UX.

  • False positives: Sometimes Rage Click events in FullStory don't correlate to UI confusion. User frustration manifested as rapid-fire click click clicking can be caused by external factors: When user rage is driven by an uncooperative device, for example. We all know that when the wifi goes down or the internet is slow, rage is quick to follow.

  • This list isn’t exhaustive, so be sure to bookmark our 7 Causes of Bad User Experiences—it’s all the rage.

It's hard to predict just what might cause a rage click. That's why searching in FullStory for Rage Click sessions can lead to surprising discoveries. Are you seeing other design and product considerations lead to Rage Clicks? We'd love to hear about your experiences.

Put Rage Clicks to work

While there are countless reasons a user might get frustrated and leave your site, only a few can be revealed with a simple search—Rage Clicks can highlight the low-hanging fruit for fixing frustration on your web site or app.

After logging in, you can easily search in FullStory for sessions that contain Rage Clicks directly from the Omnisearch bar, or mouse over to the "Rage clicked recently" segment in the left sidebar. Watch a few sessions and see what you can learn.

Additionally, once you're in FullStory, look below your list of sessions and check out the Top Rage Clicks Searchie, which lists the most heavy hitting Rage-Clicked elements on your site (You can also check out the Top Error Clicks and Top Dead Clicks while you're there[4]).

Want to broaden your frustration reducing efforts?

Last updated December 2019. Originally published September 2017.

  1. "50 Important Customer Experience Stats for Business Leaders" via Huffington Post ↩︎

  2. FullStory search gives you the power to "Google" the customer experience on your site. ↩︎

  3. For a thoughtful write-up on providing clarity in copy, see Jason Fox's When Copy Loves Itself Too Much↩︎

  4. What are Dead Clicks and Error Clicks? Read about them here↩︎

Justin OwingsFormer Director, Content

About the author

Justin Owings was previously the Director of Content Marketing at FullStory.

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