User experience is a key differentiator in ecommerce as if the process of buying something from a website is enjoyable and convenient then it encourages customer loyalty.

To an extent, it can even overcome the natural consumer urge to find the lowest price.

However for most consumers cost is still the most important factor when making a purchase, as evidenced by new traffic stats from Ryanair.

A study by SimilarWeb into traffic volumes for several airlines found that Ryanair consistently outperforms EasyJet and British Airways despite its obvious contempt for UX and customer service.

We written a number of posts about the shoddy UX on Ryanair’s site, including its hidden costs, irritating upselling, and lack of a mobile site, yet customers are still obviously attracted by the airline’s low prices.

In fact in June this year Ryanair’s site received more traffic that British Airways and EasyJet combined. 

British Airways and EasyJet show a more stable line throughout the year, with a more consistent flow of web visitors, however Ryanair’s lowest traffic point (December) is still bigger than EasyJet’s busiest period in July.

User engagement

However traffic stats aren’t everything, as we know all to well on the Econsultancy blog.

SimilarWeb also looked at the average time on site, the average number of page views and the bounce rate for the three airlines.

It found that Ryanair had the shortest average time on site at five minutes 18 seconds, compared to nine minutes 17 seconds for EasyJet. The Irish budget airline also had the highest bounce rate at 40.47% compared to 19.97% for EasyJet and 16.32% for British Airways.

Third party referral traffic

Price comparison websites are a massive part of the travel industry and dominate natural search rankings.

Among the sites analysed, BA is the most dependant on comparison sites, with around 10% of its traffic coming from third-party referrals. Half of this traffic comes from four sites: CheapFlights, DealChecker, TravelZoo, and SkyScanner.

For EasyJet and Ryanair, SkyScanner is the number one source of referral traffic, sending them 11% and 12% of the incoming referrals respectively.

David Moth

Published 22 July, 2013 by David Moth

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn

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Comments (7)

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web development newcastle

Ryan Air arent exactly known for listening to their customers!

almost 5 years ago


Paul Budd, Allianz

Booking a flight on BA's website is a genuinely pleasant experience. Furthermore it is abundantly clear that the airline places great emphasis on onsite optimsation, as evidenced by the relative regularity of aesthetic updates and funnel enhancements.

almost 5 years ago


Shell Robshaw-Bryan

It's interesting that people are so price sensitive when it comes to flying that for the sake of saving £50 they'll choose dreadful customer service.

My personal stance is to never fly Ryanair on principle. I don't disagree that the business model is successful, but it's not a business I have any desire in transacting or engaging with and it looks like even their customers feel the same.

The user engagement stats speak for themselves and illustrate that traffic is only part of the story. I'd rather have less high quality traffic that engages and converts over volume any day.

almost 5 years ago



The figures don't surprise me; I booked a flight with Ryanair over the weekend and the focus certainly isn't on what the customer is doing, it's more about what else they can sell you.

Their reputation probably also plays a part in this and when a prospective customer reaches their website, some of them probably feel a bit out of their depth and would rather pay a little more than get caught out.

The fact that they're still around goes to show that sometimes people would rather deal with a poor website than pay more money.

almost 5 years ago


Richard Carroll, Personal

Got to agree with Shell.

I would also add that the utterly ridiculous add on charges - specifically for baggage - mean that for budget airlines to remain price competitive, they would need to be around £80 cheaper. This based on a couple flying and both needing to check bags.

Nothing but contempt for O'Leary. His takeover efforts with Aer Lingus were scandalous!

almost 5 years ago


Ben Goodwin, Email marketing manager at Personal

So long as they're filling planes quicker than they can buy new ones I don't think they'll give two hoots about their UX.

almost 5 years ago


Deri Jones, CEO at SciVisum Ltd

RyanAirs few average pages - 2.91 - mean that most visits are not long enought to search and buy.

Maybe people book-mark the exact flight they want and are checking the price multiple times per week.

Thus the higher traffic is just people (over) checking current prices.
And overall - higher traffic per flight sold.

Here's a Hypothesis:

Maybe on the other companies, a bigger % of visitors buy at the price they find first off ? (due to more trust /they value the better quality of the airline?) Hence lower traffic per flight sold.

almost 5 years ago

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