User engagement on a total of 12 UK charity sites has declined each year from 2008 to 2013. Detailed analysis shows that the averageTime on Site and the number of Pages Viewed per user Visit decreased while the Bounce Rate increased. The rate of decline was similar for almost all 12 sites examined. ie decreasing Time on Site and Pages viewed per visit with increasing Bounce Rate. This data covers the same sites as those in my previous post Charity web site trends, performance and benchmarks.
Between 2008 and 2012 the average number of pages per visit has declined from 6.33 to 4.05, the length of an average visit has gone from 4.53 Minutes to 3.21 while the Bounce Rate has gone up from 45% to 53%. All of the data was collected from Google Analytics and is expressed in absolute values eg Pages per Visit, Time on Site in Minutes on the left hand axis. Overall site Bounce Rate % is shown on the right hand axis.
Naturally I wonder why has the level of Engagement and visitor `Quality` dropped. My best guess is that the majority of visitors in 2008 had a real need for the information and were therefore more engaged with the content. Whereas in succeeding years more and more of the visitors had less pressing needs ie they did not want so much detailed information and so did not stay so long. Or perhaps the pessimests are correct and for all web users attention spans are dropping.
I have written before how important it is be careful in using averages for web site data. For this data thinking in terms of average values makes sense as the values for all sites are closely distributed with no wide variations. When you look at the values for your own site you can compare them directly to the figures quoted here. Having said that remember that these 3 parameters will vary across sections of your site. So it makes sense to look at values across your whole site as well as creating Advanced Segments that will allow you to examine specific sections of your site. For example, Fundraising pages will usually have low Time on Site and higher than average Bounce Rates.
Next I will publish data on how Visitors find these sites and how those Visit Sources vary with time.