As designers and marketers, the best thing we can do for our website users is help them get off our sites a fast as possible.
Take a look at Adobe’s study and a few things stand out:
Traffic from smartphones is growing year over year (no surprise)
For some industries desktops remain dominant
Users are visiting less and spending less time when the do
This last one is a key metric, and though counter to conventional wisdom, it is going in the right direction.
For some time companies have looked at engagement metrics the wrong way. The perspective has been ego driven. Two components have been number of visits and amount of time on site. But, unless you are a media and entertainment company (or social), users don’t usually want to be on your site any longer than necessary, nor do the want to have to come back.
Users want to do just a couple of things. One, find information or two, address an issue. In the ideal user experience, they come to your site, see exactly what they need and leave.
If they come directly to the site, the home page should be designed in such a way that people can get to the key area quickly and easily. If they use a search engine to get to your site, your pages should be optimized so that they land on the most relevant content to their search. If you do your job right and improve content and navigation, users should actually spend less time, view fewer pages and conclude their activity faster. Making this happen requires resources, including your time and attention.
Take a look at the Adobe report and you will see that the Top 20 sites in each category generally have much better performance metrics than the average. Average time spent is declining. To me, this indicates better UX and content planning is being optimized to user experiences. We need to consider KPIs based on what users are trying to do on the site. This may mean less time and fewer pages consumed.