New way to look at “Bounce Rate” #2

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As per my last post “New way to look at Bounce Rate #1”, let us start looking at a web site life cycle perspective. Generally, this can divide into 3 different phase of a web site. The 3Ds – Design, Development and Deployment.

Let us look at the 3Ds separately and start off from the first “D” – Design. The first question you will ask is how we link Bounce Rate with the Design Process and how to translate into more meaningful data for the designer.

The definition of Bounce Rate for a designer can be as simple as a “good design” or a “bad design”. Anything more than 50% Bounce Rate can already consider a bad design and you urgently need to start your actions to redesign it. To effectively reduce the Bounce Rate here are the top 10 points that need to be look at.

1. Visual Appeal
Since design is a very subjective matter, the first impression is very important. Therefore, this directly contributes to the Bounce Rate. Normally the Bounce Rate will directly show this and you need to drill down into more details. Suggest you start off by looking at the location of the visitor, gender & age group to identify the gaps between your target and actual audience. This will set the right focus & direction for your creative team

2. Layout
As we pointed out first impression is very important and the layout is one of the factors. There isn’t right or wrong from a design point of view but data say it all out. It has been proven by usability testing that the effectiveness of Golden Triangle or information stay above the page fold shows better user interactions. Many sites /companies decide to redesign the layout without even knowing what has been going wrong. This is just like gambling and throwing money into the toilet. Sometimes just moving little part of your content already can change the Bounce Rate. Therefore, Multivariate Testing (MVT) is what you need. You can simply use Google Website Optimizer or Omniture Test & Target. Sometimes you see big changes in Bounce Rate and sometimes don’t, if that is the case you need to drill down more.

3. Content
Apart from the visual appeal, content is also one of the subjective factors that contribute to the Bounce Rate. This relate to writing style, depth of context, ease to read and many more. If you are doing Multivariate Testing on the layout and found that all the things that you are moving or switching don’t give you a good reduction on the Bounce Rate . Content might be the answer to it. This can easily base on the visitor data to make the right decision. Other area to look at will be as simple as the length of content, typography, alignment and font size. Make sure you understand the difference of regions and countries base on visitor data, align your content writing base on the factual date and tie it with the layout. Beware that you don’t do MVT together with the layout at the same time. The data will get very confusing and will not give you the right data on what you should do next.

4. Navigation
Even you sort out the layout and content, without a good navigation you will be 100% sure your visitor will leave the site after reading the landing page. You will expect this will reflect by your Bounce Rate unless your site is a blog (which I will explain in another post). Basically, we need to back to Website 101 – “Provide easy navigation for your visitor and never flow them to a dead-end”. You need to leverage click map or heat map to understand how people use your navigation on your site. Compare different navigation with same content and theme. One important or one of my favorite to study is the Pathing Report. This will help you to understand the flow of user base on your navigation design and help you to decide how to move or group your content to follow the users flow. Try to keep the user less than 4-5 clicks to reach to the information they need.

5. Compatibility
Most of the Web Analytics tool will provide this as a standard data collection. Basically if you can break down your Bounce Rate by Browser Type & Version, Operation System and Screen Size. If your site are depends on Flash or heavy images site then you need to look at Flash versions and colour depth. Don’t forget most site are now want to support mobile/iPhone, so make sure this is on your list as well. If you able to capture or cover 75% of your visitor your site should be in a good shape and the Bounce Rate should reduce dramatically. This is because if your site is broken, your visitors are not able to perform anything. Just as simple as that.

6. Colour
As a designer this is always a very sensitive topic. Bounce Rate also tie to the use of colours. In many case this wasn’t even a consideration of a site design and taken as less serious. If you see a certain region or country have a higher Bounce Rate, try to refer to Colour Symbolism. As different country see colour differently. One common example is red “Red strikes a chord with more cultures than many other colors because of its intensity, passion and invocation of an inherent physiological response. Red is the color of celebration and good luck (China), purity and integrity (India), and mourning (South Africa). When used with a wide brush, red typically makes whatever it’s painted on look larger, whether it’s a torso or wingback chair. The color is bold and audacious, so it usually dilutes the colors around it. For this reason it’s used to accent and highlight objects of importance such as the stop light on a traffic signal.” – Wikipedia.

7. Image vs Text vs Animation
Due to the change of technologies, web sites are getting fancier than ever. Designers always want to attract user to their site by having more graphics or animation. Just to be aware that you are not over with everything. There always a balance of the 3 elements. Depends on the type of site that you are running, sometimes it will be easy to push your visitor away by over or improper use of those 3 elements. Try to do user research or MVT for your prototype to increase your success to lower the Bounce Rate. There isn’t a known magical number that balance the elements usage but if you can find that via testing, certainly it will increase your success. Just remember images normally seen as symbols, therefore visitor tends to react faster than reading text. On the other hand right text creates synergy between images and lead to user actions.

8. Personalisation
Many companies or sites are now provide a lot of information for the users. Normally many of them are not relevant to the user. This can reflect by looking at the Bounce Rate with Geographic, Gender, Age, Languages and if you have more specific data like Occupancy, Income Status and etc, this will give you more hints. Sometimes looking at next page flow also give interesting data that what people most likely to look for if they cannot find the information on the landing page. Therefore, you can provide better information to your user instead going through your site. The higher relevancy of your content to the user the lower bounce rate you will be expected. As per mention above, the more information you have about your users, the better chance you will be able to capture them.

9. Page Load Time
On average if the site is not fully loaded within 5-10 seconds, it already consider bad experience to the users especially when some countries still having low connection speed. You can always refer to your Bounce Rate to the user connection speed to see where you have a problem, especially when you see people even have broadband network. Users normally treat a slow page as either there error in connection or they will start losing the patient waiting for the information to fully load up. Therefore, it is quite important to optimise the site to reduce bounce rate by remove redundant code, improve caching, reduces image sizes, avoid large Flash files and etc.

10. Code error
Remember any error messages will strict the users. This will also have an effect on your site Bounce Rate. Any pop-ups or security messages will drive your customer away. On the other hand if you have a complex site with a lot of interaction using JavaScript or CSS for layout. Please make sure you test your site well enough before launching it, else user will either not be able to view the information that suppose to display or not able to navigate the site as per design. In addition, make sure you do broken links check time to time to ensure there is no broken links. By doing good quality assurance will reduce you Bounce Rate as well.

Hope this first section provides more insights and I will continue the other 2Ds in the coming weeks, so do look out for it!

Again sorry about the delay as this take me longer than expected.

One Response to "New way to look at “Bounce Rate” #2"
  1. This is a wonderful post Kenneth, it provides a broad perspective on things we can do as website owners to understand how to improve our web pages to reduce bounce rate.

    One minor thing I might perhaps add would be to try and use techniques available to us to understand customer intent. Often high bounce rate occurs simply because of a mismatch between why the page was created and what the customer wants. Here’s a link to my post on that: http://u.nu/4ca74

    Of course a few things on your list already guide people to do that.

    Thanks,

    Avinash.

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