Your website is critical to your business, whether you’re using it to generate online leads, sell directly to customers through eCommerce, or both. But your site can’t do its job if users don’t stick around long enough to convert or buy. Luckily, following some simple web design and eCommerce best practices can increase the time users spend on your website and help your business succeed.
Why Does Website Session Length Matter?
It seems obvious that users spending more time on your website is good. But there are a few specific reasons to focus on improving your website’s average session length that may be less obvious:
- The longer they stay, the more they buy. Okay, this one is obvious. When dealing with eCommerce sites, longer sessions translate to more sales.
- Longer sessions improve your SEO rankings. Average session length is a potential ranking factor for Google, which means pages, where people spend a lot of time may show up higher on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). Learn more about how average session length is determined here.
- More time on your site leads to a higher conversion rate (CRO). This is similar to sales. For businesses focused on generating website leads, the more time people spend checking out your site, reading your content, etc., the more likely they will take whatever action you want them to take.
- Longer sessions lead to more repeat visits. If people are engaged with your site, they’re more likely to remember it as a source of information, products, or services and to come back for more.
10 Ways You Can Use Web Design to Keep Users on Your Site Longer
It would be best if you focused on a few things to increase your visitors’ time on your web pages. First, decrease your bounce rate, or the number of users who leave your site without clicking anything. Two, engage users more quickly and for longer amounts of time. And, three, provide compelling reasons for users to click, convert, and ultimately buy. Here’s how:
1. Make Your Entry Points Clear and Relevant.
Whether users find you through search engines, social media, paid digital advertising, or some other way, make sure that the content they land on aligns with their expectations. That means writing page titles, meta descriptions, social posts, and ad copy that is clear and relevant to your page content. This will decrease your bounce rate by ensuring you’re attracting visitors looking for the products, services, or content your website offers.
2. Reduce Your Page Load Time.
Long-loading pages are a website killer. The longer your pages load, the more likely your users will bounce before they get a chance to engage with your content. Page load time is also a ranking factor, which means slower pages show up lower on the SERP. For eCommerce sites, you should fully aim for pages to load within 1- 2 seconds, according to SEMRush.
How do you do that? Since images are usually a big culprit in slowing down sites, consider using an automatic image optimization tool. At Vital, we offer a page speed package that includes automatic image optimization through ShortPixel and website performance and security enhancements through CloudFlare.
3. Design for Mobile First.
According to Statista, over 90% of the global population uses a mobile device to go online, and mobile usage accounts for over 55% of total internet traffic. So if your site doesn’t look and perform well on a mobile device, your users will quickly move on to the next site.
Responsive website design designs sites that scale to fit a user’s device. However, in today’s mobile-heavy internet landscape, mere responsiveness may not be enough to keep your users engaged on your site. At Vital, we use “mobile-first” design principles, which means we first design site elements with the smallest screen in mind, and scale up from there. You may also consider a mobile version of your site that strips out slow-loading elements such as long videos or animations.
4. Keep Important Information Above the Fold
In website design, “above the fold” means anything the user sees without needing to scroll down. On a typical website, this might be a hero banner with an image, a headline, and a call to action. You want to ensure that whatever shows above the fold is clear and impactful and entices the user to scroll or click for more.
5. Make Your Content Easy to Scan
Your visitors need to know immediately if your website offers what they’re looking for. Please don’t make them wade through dense paragraphs of text to figure out what you offer and what makes you better than the competition. Graphics, lists, and plenty of discrete content sections with high-impact headlines will help make an immediate impact and keep your users on your site for longer.
You should also include navigation with anchor links at the top of the page to allow users to find the content they need without needing to scroll through irrelevant information.
6. Include Videos on Your Site.
According to a survey by Wyzowl, 73% of internet users would rather learn about a product by watching a video than by reading about it. The same survey shows that people watch an average of 2.5 hours of online video daily. Therefore, explainer, how-to, and product videos are great ways to engage people with your content online and ultimately increase conversions and sales.
7. Add Customer Reviews & Testimonials.
When building trust in your brand, real customers’ reviews and testimonials go a long way. According to Big Commerce, 92% of customers read online reviews before buying, and 78% of consumers say positive testimonials make them trust a brand more. And when your website users trust your brand, they are more likely to stick around to hear what you have to say — in other words; they’ll spend more time checking out your products, reading your content, and engaging with your site.
8. Follow Call-to-Action (CTA) Best Practices.
If you want users to do something once they’re on your site, you need to include CTAs. But not just any CTAs will do. They should be both well-written and well-designed. A well-written CTA is concise and immediately clarifies what the user should expect. (Tip: Avoid using the word “Submit,” which doesn’t give any context about what will happen next.) A well-designed CTA uses an “action color” that pops out from the rest of the site and is only used for CTAs and links. It should also look clickable — the classic oval “button” shape is a classic for a reason.
9. Have a Great Blog
Blog posts — like this one! — are a great way to keep users on your site longer. When writing blog posts, think about ways to be truly valuable to your readers. If you give them the information they care about or are useful, they’re more likely to keep reading and return for more. They’re also more likely to consider your business when they’re ready to make a purchase. We call this content strategy “tell, don’t sell.”
10. Use Exit Overlays
An exit overlay is a kind of popup that appears on a website when a user makes a movement that indicates that they’re about to leave a page. The reason to use them is simple: They work. For example, our client Cirexx increased their website’s conversion rates by 56% by using exit overlays.
Getting exit overlays right can take some trial and error, so be sure to run A/B tests to help you figure out which messages and offers are most successful in getting people to stay on your site.
But, Wait! There’s More!
Follow the ten tips above, and you’ll see your website session lengths increase — with them, your conversion rates, leads, and ultimately sales. Want one more bonus tip?
Think like your customers.
Take a tour through your website through the eyes of someone with the problems, needs, and desires of the people your business serves, and ask yourself: What would I want to see more of? More product images? More intuitive navigation? More social validation? Design your website strategy around your customers, and they’ll be delighted to spend more time with you.
Author: Max DesMarais