How to Interpret User Time Spent and Page Views

In U x, more isn’t always better or worse, more time on a page, more taps or clicks, more pages visited, maybe positive or negative with any of these. That assessment depends on the user’s tasks and desires. Let’s imagine you’re planning a vacation to the Greek islands. You’re thrilled about the visit. So you go on a travel website that specializes in Greece. You’re engulfed in every bit of information as you visit many pages and scroll up and down, reading and rereading, looking at photos, all the while excited about your trip. Now, imagine a slightly different situation. You’ve booked a cruise to the Greek islands and want to know the specifics about travel time and whether the ship steams all day and night until you reach the islands. So you’re on the same Web site where you research the trip, but you can’t find the specific information you want. So you look at many pages and scroll to the bottom and up again.

You do this a number of times before you finally in frustration contact the booking agency. Looking at site analytics for these two different situations may show the same or similar number of pages hit time on page and scrolling behavior, but the actual user experience was very different. One was positive while the other was negative. People spending a long time on a web page or clicking on many links and visiting many pages can indicate that they’re engaged or totally lost. A usability test might show us why the user is engaged or having trouble. This is why I think of usability tests and site analytics as a perfect pairing for user research. They each tell us different types of information that’s important to understanding how people use a design. Now, one way I differentiate between the two types of user experience, as I discussed in the example, is by thinking of the users tasks as either productivity tasks or engagement tasks. Productivity tasks should be accomplished quickly and efficiently, visiting fewer menus and pages, doing fewer searches and not needing to scroll a lot. While engagement tasks can take a longer time and cover many more pages.

Now, this is by the user’s choice, not because they can’t find something. So when studying analytics, pair that with usability testing and other behavioral research methods to determine whether more clicks, taps, pages, scrolls or time on page was what the user wanted or not.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *