How bounce rate signals a good or bad User Experience

Bounce Rates: Why they matter to User Experience

January 3rd, 2013 | User Experience | | Comments

Most analytic packages highlight page views, unique visitors, and traffic sources. These metics are important for any website, but I believe bounce rate is more important. Bounce rate is a lead signal for website user experience. It will tell you if your users are finding the information that they are searching for, if you have good information architecture, and how the user feels when they land on your website. For these reasons any website that is looking to generate traffic should pay extra attention to the content bounce rate.

What is exactly is a Bounce Rate?

The bounce rate is the percentage of visitors only viewing one page of your site. It is measured by taking the total number of visitors viewing one page divided by the total page entries. This can be measured site wide or by a specific page. A bounce may occur if a user closes the window or tab, clicks the browsers ‘back button’, their session time out, or they entered new url in the address bar. Most analytics software will use 30 minutes as their session timeout.

Why does Bounce Rate matter?

When a user lands on a website, it takes them less than 5 seconds to determine if the content they searched for is on the webpage. If they can’t find the information, feel that its not there, or landed on the wrong site they will hit their back button and bounce. If a user is bouncing from a website the user experience will be poor. They will leave the website and look for a website that.

To provide a positive user experience your must fulfill purpose of building the webpage content. If you rank for a page about gizmos, you better make sure that landing page talks about gizmos. Better yet, the page talks about gizmos, and provides links to related gizmo pages, such as ‘buying gizmos’, ‘gizmos in the news’, ‘famous gizmos’ etc.

What is a good bounce rate?

There is no set ‘good’ bounce rate. It really is set on an individual basis based on the websites business objectives. For example if your website is a large ecommerce site where your primary goal is a purchase, a bounce rate over 40% is probably not good. This essentially means that 60% of your visitors are not finding the product they are looking for and weren’t interested in any other related products. In a real world example: how many times have you seen 60% of the customers walk into a department store, pick up 1 item, put it down and leave? This is obviously a bad user experience.

Other sites such as informational websites might be ok with a higher 60% bounce rate, as its could indicate the user is finding the information they are looking for, and a positive user experience. If a user is looking for a specific piece of data, such as a phone number, date, or name, it might be easy to locate this data quickly on a page and move on to their next search query.

I will say a bounce rate over 80% will be bad no matter what the business objectives are. If you see a bounce rate over 80% your users needs are not being met properly. The website usability is so low that users are leaving the site because you are not fulfilling the promise organically ranking for that keyword or buying traffic for that keyword. I’ve seen bounce rate this high when websites are buying SEM for keywords related to their product, but not matching the product. In example if a website is buying the keyword ‘free credit report’ and the user lands on page selling credit reports, there is a disconnect, and a bounce will occur.

Shane Hale User Experience & Conversion