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    Time on Page, Page Load Time: Which do I use?

    posted by clicktale 4:25 PM
    Tuesday, June 21, 2011

    Time on Page

    Time on page, engagement time, and loading time…three important online metrics that e-businesses often tend to miscalculate or misinterpret. Make sure your analytics solution clearly breaks down these three metrics for you so you’re not stuck designing your website with inaccurate data.

    Time on Page – The Overestimated Metric

    Time on Page: Traditional Analytics will often measure the amount of time it takes for a visitor to go from one page to another. However, the calculated time on page does not always accurately describe the actual amount of time a visitor spent on a page, rather the amount of time between pages.

    From the time a page is opened, a visitor could get up, go to the bathroom, have lunch, run a 5K, take a shower and only then navigate to another page. In addition, if there was only one page view, time on page would be calculated as 0 seconds since there would be no other page to subtract and calculate the time difference. Needless to say, this is extremely inaccurate.

    Time on Page is a particularly dangerous metric for the multiple tab browser as well as the multitask user, always leaving one page open and on to engage with another. So, when you look at this metric, bear in mind its limitations. A good way to address these issues is by looking at other metrics that may be more reliable and provide a better insight, such as the ones listed below.

    Engagement Time: The metric you really need

    Engagement TimeTM: This is the amount of time visitors are actually interacting with your webpage, whether it be scrolling, clicking, moving the mouse, or typing. The longer the engagement time, the more interest visitors have in your page and your website. Engagement time refers to the amount of time visitors really engage with the page, and not just have the browser open on that page. Engagement time can be considered a micro conversion for some websites, and is generally considered a good step towards an overall “macro” conversion.

    On a single visit, a visitor kept a particular webpage open for 1.11 hrs. However, the amount of time that the visitor was actually interacting with the page was only 53 sec…quite a time difference.

    Page Load Time: The Need for Speed

    Loading Time: This is the amount of time it takes for a single page of your website to fully load on your visitor’s browser. While your aim for Engagement Time is to increase the length of time a visitor engages with the page, the aim for Page Loading time is to minimize it. The internet is meant to save us time and frustration, not cause more. Therefore, the more time your pages take to load, the more likely visitors are to abandon your page and navigate to another site. It is also well known that page load time is one of the parameters Google checks for its Page Rank, so slow loading pages may harm your site in this regard as well.

    As original and show stopping we might wish to make our landing page, if it’s too “flashy” (huge videos, images, Flash based, or any other reason the page would take ages to load), it may actually end up hindering your site performance, rather than enhancing it.

    Visitors should be spending their time interacting with your webpages, not waiting for them to load. Therefore, in order to increase visitors’ engagement time and your chances for more conversions, optimizing page load time is a quick easy fix that can make a huge difference on your bottom-line.

    About the Author

    Hadas Sheinfeld is the Director of Product at ClickTale, in charge of the ClickTale Product Roadmap and all new features. Her main concern is making ClickTale the best Customer Experience Analytics tool available, combining top notch functionality with fantastic user experience to create a product people love using. Hadas holds an M.Sc. in Occupational Psychology from the University of London.



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