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Understanding Website Traffic Metrics: Average vs. Median Time Spent

Average vs. Median Time Spent: Deciphering Key Website Traffic Metrics for Better Business Decisions

6 min read

Web analytics play an integral role in determining the success of your online business. In order to make informed decisions, it's crucial to understand the different metrics and what they indicate. Two commonly used metrics, especially when analyzing time spent on a website, are Average and Median. In this article, we'll break down the differences between these metrics, explore their advantages, and help you decide when to use which.

1. Average Time Spent

Definition: The sum of all session durations divided by the total number of sessions.

Example: Imagine 10 visitors on your website. If 9 of them spend 1 minute each, and 1 visitor spends 61 minutes, the average time spent will be:

(9x1 + 1x61) / 10 = 70/10 = 7 minutes


  • Simple to understand and calculate.
  • Provides a quick overview of overall visitor engagement.


  • Can be skewed by outliers. In our example, one long session significantly increased the average.

When to use: Use average time spent when you want a quick snapshot of general user engagement and aren't concerned about extreme values.

2. Median Time Spent

Definition: The middle value in a list of numbers, dividing the data into two halves.

Example: Using the same 10 visitors, the times spent would be arranged from least to greatest. Since there are 9 instances of 1 minute and one of 61 minutes, the median would be 1 minute.


  • Not affected by extreme values or outliers, offering a more representative value of a typical user's session duration.
  • Reflects the experience of the "middle" visitor, providing a clearer picture of what most users experience.


  • Might not capture the overall trend if there's a significant distribution in the data.

When to use: Median is useful when you suspect outliers in your data or want to understand the behavior of a typical visitor without the influence of extreme values.

The Scoby Analytics Advantage

While many analytics solutions only offer average values, Scoby Analytics sets itself apart. Not only does it provide insights into both average and median time spent (and time to conversion), but it also showcases the distribution of session durations. This means you can see exactly which percentage of your visitors spend a certain amount of time on your website.

Such a feature allows for a comprehensive and nuanced understanding of website usage. By knowing not just the average or median but the entire distribution, businesses can pinpoint specific areas for improvement and better cater to their audience's needs.

In Conclusion

Both average and median time spent offer valuable insights into website traffic, each with its own strengths and potential drawbacks. By understanding the nuances of these metrics and utilizing tools like Scoby Analytics that offer a broader perspective, businesses can more effectively analyze their website's performance and make informed decisions for growth.