Does length matter - long or short pages?

Do you know what content and exactly how much content should be on your webpages? I know, tough question. You can drive traffic from any number of search engines, lead generators, campaigns etc. However, once visitors arrive to your site, engaging them and keeping them wanting more - that's the tricky part.

Page length is one of those determining factors that can either engage your visitors or drive them away.

How do you determine the different lengths of a page?

Short Pages = All content is generally located above the fold.

Medium Sized Pages = Need to scroll down below the fold 2-3 times using the scroll wheel on your mouse to see all content.

Long Pages = Need to scroll down below the fold 3+ times using the scroll wheel on your mouse to see all content.

Page Length Effect on Load Time

It takes an average of 6 seconds for a webpage to load. Although this may seem like a short amount of time, the reality is that visitors' patience threshold times out at about 2-3 seconds. Your webpages should take no longer than this to load to ensure that your own visitors stick around.

I'm sure you have been to a site before that has taken so long to load and decided to bounce to another site. Your visitors are the same. Extended loading times give visitors too much time to second guess themselves, or get insecure with your site. Typically, the length of a page should not affect the load time. However, if you have long pages of complex content, including images, flash drives, etc, loading time takes significantly longer. Therefore, take into consideration the necessity of each element of your content.

One free tool that can clue you in on your own page loading times include Pingdom.

Great free tool to check on your page loading times

Page Length Effect on Visitor Engagement

Trust is one of the most vital aspects of a site. This does not only refer to actual privacy settings, VeriSign, TRUSTe', etc. If your page seems untrustworthy you will lose visitors faster than anticipated. The company's reputation has an impact on this. If you have a well-known site like Gap, or American Airlines, the length of the page is of less importance since these website interfaces have gained the trust of their visitors and they know what to expect.

As you can see here to the left, product pages go on and on, but you know and I know that we do often scroll all the way to the bottom for the relevant content we need to make our purchase decisions. Whether it is a product description, customer recommendations, additional images, the long page length helps the sale rather than harming it.

If you have a relatively unknown site, your #1 goal should be to create a secure environment for your visitors. This will keep them happy, coming back, and ultimately converting!

Page Length Effect on Returning visitors

Oh course it's nice to get that first conversion, but retention is important and has its own rewards too. You need to check and see whether your customers' goals were indeed achieved on the first visit, and if not, why not? Are the visitors leaving because they aren't getting the information they need quickly enough? Using heat maps you are able to analyze your page content and decide what should be removed and what should be made more prominent on the page.

There is a fine line between a lot of the right information, and too much information. Finding this balance is the key to keeping your first time visitors satisfied and turning them into returning visitors. Stay tuned for our follow up post when we'll discuss the quality vs. quantity of your content.

Learn more about Customer Behavioral Analysis in Clicktale's Acadamey.

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