A “bounce” is when a user visits your site and doesn’t click through to any other pages on the site. They just bounce in and bounce straight out again. Ideally you want your bounce rate to be low as this signals users like yout content and they’re happy to click around the site to view more of it. However, this is also a tricky metric to measure user performance on as in some cases a high bounce rate is not necessarily a signal of bad usability, but extremely good usability.
Example 1: A site has a high bounce rate because a user visits the site, finds exactly what they want to know and does not need to visit any other pages. This would be a suitable example of a Wikipedia entry or a page like the BBC football fixtures page. The user has got the information they came for and is happy to leave.
Example 2: A site has a high bounce rate because a user visits, can’t find what they want and clicks back to the search results to try another site.
These are both examples of a high bounce rate. However, one is an example of good usability and one is a signal that there’s something really wrong with the site and the user experience.
Make sure you site is up to speed
The best way to lose a visitor before they’ve even seen your web site is to give them a really long loading time. If your site takes longer than about 4 seconds to load – users won’t wait around. They’ll hit the back button and try another site in the search results. A slow web site will massively impact your bounce rate… and it’s so easy to fix!
What can you do to improve your site speed?
- Don’t cheap out on web hosting. Use a dedicated server or a scalable cloud solution with more than adequate resources.
- Use a cache plugin/service if your using WordPress or a CMS.
- Optimise your images.
- Use a CDN like Cloudflare or MaxCDN.
One of the easiest ways to find out how fast your site is loading for users is Pingdom’s Sitespeed test. This will give you an accurate speed test and a break down of what elements of your site are taking longest to load.
Where’s the navigation?
Look objectively at your navigation. Is it easy it easy to find? Is it where you would expect to find the navigation menu? Look at other big sites and see where they place their main menu and how they order and present the links. The natural order is something along the lines of home screen and logo on the left and search, sign-up and control panel on the right. This is what users have come to expect.
Many sites like twitter and Mashable use a “sticky style” header menu like us. This means a user doesn’t have to scroll up to the top of the page to see the main site menu.
Give the user what they expect
If the title of the page is “6 tips to improve your bounce rate” for example. Make sure the page offers the reader 6 tips to improve their bounce rate. It’s simple, but give the user what they’re looking for. Make it easy to read, well presented and informative. Users don’t click back when they find good content that is exactly what they’re searching for.
Responsive design for mobiles and tablets
I’ve seen bounce rates drop as much as 40% because of a responsive site re-design. It was exactly the same content and colour scheme- just organized in a more user friendly manor for mobiles and tablets. People are using all kinds of devices to view the web now – you can’t just rely on the fact that the site looks fine on your office desktop.
Offer the user related content or products
You know on Amazon where it says “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” or “Customers Viewing This Page May Be Interested in”. This is a really good way to get a user to click around your site.
Hey, we know you like this.. have a look at this other cool stuff on our site..
This feature comes as standard in many of the shopping cart scripts and can be easily im0lemented in WordPress with one of the various related posts plugin.
Easy on the ads
You want to make money from your site, that fine, but don’t let ads get in the way of a user accessing the content they’ve clicked for. Test various ads and placements and make sure they’re appropriate and relevant for the content of the site. There’s nothing wrong with ads, but badly placed and slow loading adverts are guaranteed to annoy users.