What is an Active User?

An active user is a visitor who engages with a website or application within a specific time frame, usually measured as daily, weekly, or monthly.

How to define an active user

Calculating an active user involves defining criteria that determine when a user's engagement qualifies them as "active" on a website. As you can imagine, this can vary greatly depending on the website or application.

One of the most common ways to define an active user is simply to count users as active based on their session activity within a given timeframe. For example, a user who simply visits a website or engages with content (clicks, scrolls, watches videos, etc.) can be considered active.

Beyond mere visits to a website, you can also use engagement metrics and meaningful actions that align with the goals of your website or app. This can include making a purchase, posting a comment, or uploading a photo.

Lastly, if you want to take things further, you can even establish thresholds before counting a user as active. For example, you may require users to spend a certain amount of time on your website or post a certain number of comments.

Commonly used time frames for measuring active users

Although you can pick any time frame for measuring active users for your business, the most commonly used metrics are DAUs (Daily Active Users), WAUs (Weekly Active Users), and MAUs (Monthly Active Users).

DAUs (Daily Active Users): Counts the number of unique users who engage with your website, app, or platform within a 24-hour period.

WAU (Weekly Active Users): Counts the number of unique users who engage with a website, app, or platform within a 7-day period.

MAU (Monthly Active Users): Counts the number of unique users who engage with a website, app, or platform within a 30-day period.

With all these timeframes, it's important to remember that an active user is typically counted once in the specified period despite multiple sessions or actions. This means that if a user visits a website several times in a day, they're only counted as one daily active user for that day.

Why measure active users?

Calculating and tracking active users is helpful for understanding engagement, growth, and user behavior on digital platforms.

Unlike vanity metrics, which may only show an upward trend without indicating real engagement, active user metrics provide valuable insights into how frequently and meaningfully users interact with a website or app.

For instance, while an app might boast increasing installs over time, tracking active users can reveal whether these users actually return to the app, engage with its features, and contribute to its growth.

This distinction is crucial for guiding product development, marketing strategies, and to make informed decisions that drive genuine engagement and revenue.