BBC News reports the latest annual data on web habits and it's bad news for folks who hope to monetize site visitors by getting them to browse the site.
A growing majority of people go directly to what they want on a web site, complete a task, and leave. According to the report, efforts to make them stay just try the user's patience.
In 2004, about 40% of people visited a homepage and then drilled down to where they wanted to go ... In 2008 only 25% of people travel via a homepage. The other 75% come into a site via a link or search result directly at the desired information. Most of those people do not visit the rest of the site.
"Basically search engines rule the web," Dr. Jakob Nielsen, a usability expert, concluded.
While marketers have always SAID that people demanded functionality, the truth is, many web sites (maybe MOST non-ecommerce sites ) count on moving traffic around the site once a visitor arrives. Marketers haven't caught on that the search engines are training people to go directly to the content and that users won't put up with sites that try to force a corporate mission ahead of a user's convenience.
For the life of your site - it's time to rethink your design.