Monday, June 30, 2008

Reduce Bounce Rates: Fight for the Second Click

Why visitors leave your site ...

"Different traffic sources imply different reasons for why visitors might immediately leave your site. Design to keep deep-link followers engaged through additional pageviews.

A huge increase in "deep dips" was one of the big findings in our new user research for this year's Fundamental Guidelines for Web Usability seminar. That is, ever-more users are arriving deep within websites rather than entering them through the homepage.

The homepage is still important, and you should continue to ensure homepage usability for two main reasons:

* The homepage is typically the single most-visited page, because the deep entry points are scattered across a vast number of interior pages.
* The homepage is the orienteering point for visitors who arrive through deep links and then decide to explore the site further.

For many sites, the deep-dip increase has an unfortunate consequence: much bigger bounce rates.

The bounce rate is defined as the percentage of visitors who turn around at the entry page and immediately leave the site. Such visitors "bounce" out and never see additional pages.

"Unique Visitors" Must Die

Given growing bounce rates, we must stop using "unique visitors" as a metric for site success. Site tourists who leave a site immediately ratchet up the unique visitor count, but don't contribute long-term value.

On the contrary, bouncers should be considered a negative statistic: the site failed to engage them enough to entice even a second pageview.

To measure site success, you should count only loyal users who return repeatedly. Or, if your site is such that most people will visit only once, at least require that they exhibit a minimum amount of engagement before you count them as a positive statistic.

Chasing higher unique-visitor counts will undermine your long-term positioning because you'll design gimmicks rather than build features that bring people back and turn them into devotees and customers."    (Continued via Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox)    [Usability Resources]

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