Why and When Bounce Rate Really Matters


The staff at Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) aren’t the only ones loving their new website. Their web users are responding well to the new design, too. Bobbie Hartman, an ASWB web development team member, recently sent us this update:

According to google analytics, our bounce rate on the home page went from about 40% on the old site down to 27% on the new site. It’s remarkable—the bounce trend line just drops on november 5th, the day we went live. Hooray for information architecture!

Bounce rate? What the?

A website’s bounce rate is, by Google’s definition, “the percentage of single-page visits,” i.e., a user visits one page and then leaves the site. It is a great metric for measuring user interaction and the efficiency of on-site architecture.

Sometimes a higher bounce rate is acceptable: the user has found the information or performed the task they set out to accomplish on that page. A contact page, for example, might have a high bounce rate because the users who find it only wanted to get the organization’s contact information.

The home page, however, should have a low bounce rate. Users should be encouraged to continue with their visit. ASWB’s site contains a large amount of information and functionality, so the home page’s main job is to help guide users quickly and painlessly toward the information or functional pathway that suits their needs.

ASWB Website Redesign

The old ASWB homepage was a large, unwieldy collection of almost eighty hyperlinks rendered at 11-point font. The new ASWB homepage has fewer links, a more hierarchical structure and an engaging visual design.

Successful Information Architecture

By comparing the analytics data for the month before the new site launch to that of the month after the launch, users are spending about 25% less time on the new home page and are clicking through to find what they are looking for 12% more often.

This means that the new site architecture is doing precisely what it is designed to do: engage and assist the user in navigating and interacting with the new website. It also means that these new users are spending more time on the website, which, in turn means they are more likely to share usable information with ASWB.