More Clicks ≠ Improvement: Why a decrease in clicks on your site could be a good thing.

Jared Stanley
3 min readAug 15, 2019

Let’s talk about ‘Survivorship Bias’. Survivorship Bias is concentrating on existing data points while ignoring the filtered/excluded data.

Both Steve Jobs & Bill Gates were successful without graduating college — Therefore college isn’t necessary and even a hindrance to your success, right?!
By focusing on their successes we ignore the thousands of people who dropped out and didn’t become successful, those who graduated but couldn’t get jobs, and those who were saddled with debt so massive that they could never realistically hope to pay it back.

Looking at the larger picture gives you the full story and helps you make better decisions.

Survivorship Bias in Site Analytics

Page A gets n clicks.
Page B gets n+1 clicks.
B is the better page, right?

Quantitative analysis generally dictates that ‘more clicks = better’.
‘Time spent on site’, ‘total pages’ — without fail, digital teams point to increased analytics totals to indicate success.

We quickly realize that this approach doesn’t hold water when we stop and consider the user.
User X clicked on more pages… maybe that’s because they were confused and couldn’t find what they were looking for.

Real-World Example

Our site had a customer grid overview page that listed out the customer logos and CTAs, when clicked taking the user to the customers’ respective detail page.
The overview page was used as a sort of directory for the hundreds of customer detail pages present on our site.

Current User Flow. The assumption was made that users wanted a menu of customers to choose from.

Our intent was that users would visit the overview page and then continue to a specific customer detail page from there, but was that what users wanted? Looking at the data it appeared that users didn’t spend a ton of time on this overview page and were more interested in digging in to the actual detail pages.

We made the decision to remove the link to the overview page from the primary nav to test this theory.
A couple months later the stakeholder sent a panicked email:
Page views had gone down by ~60%!
If more=better then it makes sense that he was worried!

However, digging in to the data told a different story.
While the overview page showed a decrease in views, the customer detail pages showed no change in traffic.
People were going to the overview page, becoming confused, and then going elsewhere on the site.
The actual views of the detail pages were coming from organic search or else from internal links from the home page or other pages.

Modified User Flow. People just wanted to read the highlighted customer stories and didn’t care to wade through hundreds of customer logos

By removing this extra step we were able to understand that the page was not being used as intended which helped us rethink our strategy. Fewer clicks resulted in a more efficient experience for the user.

Clicks are _One Part_ of a Solid Strategy

More traffic is a good thing in general: The more traffic coming to your site the better chance you have of connecting with users.
Volume doesn’t necessarily equate to great UX however, and may be an indication that you’re confusing your users.

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