Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Understanding bounce rate and how to reduce it

by Matt Saunders

Bounce rate is one of those website stats that often either gets ignored or remains misunderstood. The definition of bounce rate can be explained by a user exiting a website on the same page they entered, without navigating to any other pages within the website. Essentially, your visitor entered the website but didn't explore any other pages before leaving.

The actual bounce rate is calculated by the total number of visits to one page divided by the total number of website visits, and generally a good bounce rate is considered to be anything less than 30%.

If your bounce rate is higher than this, you don't need to worry straight away. Consider the purpose of your site - if you run a news/article website for example, there is nothing to suggest that your users aren't completely happy; maybe they found what they were looking for and then left. Such is the nature of a news/article website; I think it is entirely feasible that a user could only view one page before leaving.

Then there are technological aspects to consider. If your website uses frames, for example, and your main content is loaded in a frame that tracking code is not placed on, you are going to be seeing a significantly higher bounce rate. Similarly, if your website consists mostly of Flash, bounce rate is not going to be tracked at all.

Bounce rate stats are probably most important for people running e-commerce websites. It gives an insight into how valuable the content appears to the end-user and what immediate impact your landing pages have. If your bounce rate is high and your sales are low, there are probably a few good reasons for this...

Perhaps your copy is unprofessional and users are not convinced? Perhaps your design is lacking in the desired imagery? Perhaps you're using an overbearing colour scheme?

There are fundamental tricks in getting your users to stay and explore further. Here are some that have proven effective for my clients:

* Clear navigation - let the user know where they are and what other information is available

* Clear headings - if I'm searching for rechargeable batteries, I'm going to want to see this on the page I land on

* Related pages - using the above example, I know there are many different brands of rechargeable batteries, but if you don't give me links to your product ranges I'm certainly not going to look myself

* Visual design - if I land on a page that looks like it was thrown together by a drunk baby, I'm probably not going to take you very seriously and will be hitting my back button immediately

* Graphical experimentation - people like to hover, click, drag and generally play with pages. Try experimenting with image rollovers, slideshows and generally engaging the user with the design.

These points when done correctly can improve your bounce rates, which ultimately will lead to better consumer confidence, better usability and heightened conversion rates - whether you're looking for sales or leads. Please feel free to put your ideas in the comments, and good luck!

About the Author

Designer, writer and owner of Northern Web

Article Source: The Web Station

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