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Users are 37.94 times more likely to . . .

March 25, 2010 1 comment

I’ve been creating web sites since 1996 and running WebTrends reports on these websites.

Viewing the statistics I’ve noticed when comparing visits to web pages vs. files – web pages get significantly more traffic. Users prefer web pages over files. Every website I’ve ever worked on, the users visit web pages much more than they click on and download any file on that same website.

Or to say it a different way, if you share info via word, pdf, excel, or ppt – few users will view it because they won’t download it. Users will view that same information on a web page, however, if you offer them that choice.

Based on this observed behavior, I counsel my internal clients to share info via html / web pages whenever possible.

But I needed statistics – a measure, a margin, a percentage that expressed users’ file hating behavior.

Yesterday an intern crunched our January 2010 WebTrends visitor data for web pages and files. The result?

For our webpages, a user is 37.94 times more likely to click on a web page than a file. Or, there are 37.94 visits to a webpage for every one file downloaded.

Statistic: Description:
Average visits to a xxx.gov page per month: Based on the top 50 pages on xxx.gov, on average, a page receives 5,720 visits a month
5,720
Average number of downloaded files per month: Based on the top 50 downloaded files on xxx.gov, on average, a file gets downloaded 151 times per month
151
Ratio of visits to downloads: On average, there are 37.94 visits to a page on xxx.gov for every one file downloaded from xxx.gov
37.94
Percentage: On average, a person is 3794% more likely to visit a page on xxx.gov than download a file from xxx.gov
3794%
**Numbers based on January figures for top 50 files and pages on xxx.gov. URL is non-specific as these metrics are believed to apply equally across most government websites.

Now that metric – 37.94 – may vary from site to site, but I thought it was a metric worth sharing.

This user behavior can be explained in many ways. Web pages are:

– faster, and users are impatient;
– more accessible for mobile phone users;
– less likely to carry a virus/worm (you really don’t know the file type is what it says it is);
– easier for the disabled users to view with assistive technology;
– better optimized for search engines;
– more usable as user does not have to reframe content in new rendering; and
– serves a greater number of users (not all have the plug-ins required to render word, pdf, excel or ppt files).

I hope this mantra – 37 times more likely – will help all of us when we get a request from our internal clients who want to post a ppt, word, excel or pdf file.


Joy Gatewood Fulton
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