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How to Determine How Much Site Layout Influences Bounce Rate?

11:11 am on Jun 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

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My averge bounce rate is 48% which is not bad. I am constantly focusing on increasing the relevance of landing pages but I'd now like to see how much the current site layout negatively affects the bounce rate.

I've recently redesigned it (mainly the colour scheme, not the layout) and I've ensured it's blazing fast (pingdom says it loads in under 1 second, not surprisingly as it's a clean, airy design, very few graphics and ads, making maximum use of CSS) and my bounce rate actually went up (not by much, but it has gone up instead of down). I've tested it on different browsers and resolutions and it's all fine.

My question, where do you start to investigate design issues that may impact bounce rate negatively? What do you look at? I've already looked at browsers and resolutions but as I said, all tests come up fine. Plus the analytics data is not consistent, one resolution which increased in bounce rate for one browser actually dropped for another, for example.

I'm thinking of trying Google Optimizer to test different style sheets in order to test

-font size
-layout width (currently employing a liquid design but doesn't stretch 100% for higher resolutions)
-menu position (currently on the right hand side, it's been like that from the beginning)

Any thoughts on what else to look at? Any other ways to test the layout in case I missed something?

Thank you