Time Duration, Pages/Session and Engagement

Exhibit 27.6  Video demo of how the visual arts site, sangeetacharan.com, engages with visitors.

The amount of time a user spends on a webpage or the website, and the number of pages that the user views during a session is a reflection of the user’s level of engagement.

High levels of engagement or stickiness is normally a positive indicator. However, depending on the nature of the content, more time spent on the page could also be an indication that the page is difficult to read or not easy to understand.

The context, therefore, is important. Analyst must bear in mind that the optimum level of engagement varies from individual to individual as well as from page to page depending on the purpose it serves.

If the purpose of a page is to inform users about a topic or instruct them how to use something, the page should be easy to read and understand without the need for much on-page engagement, though links to related content would be desirable. On the other hand, if the page presents some form of art, you do want users to spend more time immersed in the art.

To view a demo of how the visual arts site, sangeetacharan.com, engages with visitors scan the QR in Exhibit 27.6. The page allows users to select a painting from a collection, change the frame colour, rotate the painting, and view it in diverse settings. It provides a meaningful form of engagement, allowing users to visualise how a painting that attracts them would appear in different settings. And it reduces the risk of buyer remorse — art buyers can make decisions based on what the painting looks like in a typical room at a regular home.

TimeMe.js (GitHub)

The amount of time a user spends on a webpage, or on a website can be tracked through timestamps. This, however, is not very useful because it tracks the time that the page remains open, and not the time that user actively interacts with the page.

Fortunately, there is TimeMe.js, a JavaScript library, developed by GitHub that tracks how long users actively interact with a webpage. It excludes time spent when the user minimizes the browser or switches to a different tab and ignores “idle” time-outs, when a user is inactive (no page mouse movement, no page keyboard input) for a pre-defined period.

TimeMe.js also supports tracking time for specific elements within a page, allowing developers to compare the usage of different parts of the same webpage.

Bounce Rate

Bounce rate is generally defined as the proportion of visitors who leave the site without visiting any other pages or interacting with any elements on the landing page. If the user interacts with any element, such as a pop-up or video, it will not be counted as a bounce.

This definition is appropriate for most websites where the goal is to move visitors towards a conversion. However, not all websites or webpages have the same goal or desire user interaction. Therefore, the definition may not be applicable universally.

For example, on a blog site, the primary goal may be to provide information, and users may not need to interact with the page beyond reading the content. In such cases, the time spent on the page is a better indicator of engagement. If a user spends less than a fixed amount of time, such as 10 seconds, they are counted as a bounced user.

It is important to consider the context of the website or page when interpreting bounce rates. A high bounce rate on a landing page may indicate that the page is not engaging, but on a blog post, it may be normal for users to leave after reading the content.

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