Insights · 4 min read

What is a thrashed cursor? How to find and avoid these UX problems

The Fullstory Education Team
Posted March 17, 2022
What is a thrashed cursor? How to find and avoid these UX problems

Have you ever come across something on the web that you don’t understand or that gets you stuck, so you jerk your mouse around erratically in frustration? 

Don’t worry, you’re not alone. 

Thrashed cursor user frustration signals are far too common and they create poor customer experiences. When you feel the need to move your mouse around rapidly, there is a problem—it’s usually not a problem with you, but a user experience (UX) problem.

From a business standpoint, thrashed cursors mean your users are confused, annoyed, and/or stuck. That’s also a problem for your business.

In this article, we identify what thrashed cursors are, how to identify them, and how to resolve the issues that cause them.

What is a thrashed cursor?

Thrashed cursors are a user frustration signal when users erratically move their cursor back and forth.

What are the reasons for a thrashed cursor? Typically, it indicates the user is getting annoyed or confused. With near certainty, it’s a bad thing.

You wouldn’t want that at critical moments in the customer experience, like during checkout, would you? Here are some reasons why thrashed cursors may occur: 

Like other user frustration signals—rage clicks, dead clicks, error clicks—there is the small chance that the user has a broken mouse or their WiFi is so slow, they’re thrashing their mouse in protest. Usually, though, you aren’t as fortunate—it’s a signal that you need to improve your UX.

That’s one of the reasons why mobile analytics and DXI software exists: to help you identify problems—the causes of thrashed cursors included—and perfect your user experience.

How do you find where users are thrashing their cursors?

The easiest way to find thrashed cursors is to use a product analytics or digital experience analytics solution.

These are tools that let you view customer experiences (and frustrations) through session replay.

Session replay is a reproduction of a user’s interactions on a website or app. It will showcase exactly how the user actually experienced the site or application by logging user interaction with page elements. Session replay transforms logged user events like thrashed cursors, clicks, page visits, scrolling, tapping, etc., into a reproduction of what the user actually did on the site or app.

Using quantitative and qualitative data, a product analytics or DXI solution gives you easier access to view thrashed cursors with heatmaps, click maps, scroll maps, and more. Simply understanding where the events occurred can help product teams understand and fix the problem. 

How to measure thrashed cursors

Quantifying the impact of a user frustration signal like thrashed cursors can be difficult, especially if you don’t have any data to support your metrics. 

Teams can measure the issues due to thrashed cursor friction by: 

  • The area on the page where the mouse was erratically moving

  • The amount of times the thrashing occurred around specific elements or on certain pages of the digital experience

  • The frequency of erratic mouse movement for a certain customer segment

Product analytics tools help you identify how often unique users thrash their cursors, too. Combine that quantitative data with the qualitative data from session replay and you’ll generally get a good idea of why users are frustrated.

How to use Fullstory to find, untangle, and fix thrashed cursors

You can search for Error Clicks in FullStory in the OmniSearch box. Look for "FRICTION" ➡ Thrashed Cursor

Fullstory is one tool built to help teams identify where, when, and why users are thrashing their cursors. Here’s how to find those signals in Fullstory:

  • Log in to Fullstory and type “Thrashing” in the OmniSearch box.

  • Apply the “Thrashed Cursor” filter to a segment of user sessions (sessions that include a visit to a specific page on your site or app). 

  • Combine “Thrashed Cursor” events with other frustration signals such as Rage Clicks, Dead Clicks, or Error Clicks to reveal particularly frustrating experiences—the kind that might lead you to reach out proactively to customers or identify the most odiously frustrating sessions.

The data surfaced around thrashed cursors can be analyzed to figure out how often, where, and when the thrashed cursor happens. The goal is then to monitor and reduce the instances of the occurrence.

Identify thrashed cursors and other frustrated users with Fullstory

Fullstory's Digital Experience Intelligence platform helps you identify where, when, and why your users are frustrated. Sign up for a free trial today and get to the bottom of your users' frustrations.

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The Fullstory Education TeamExperts

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Our team of experts is committed to introducing people to important topics surrounding analytics, digital experience intelligence, product development, and more.

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