What does it cost when a website is slow?

Surfing the web seems like a pretty straightforward process – after all, we all do it dozens of times every day.

Most online interactions go something like…

  1. Search
  2. Click
  3. Wait
  4. Do something (read, buy, post, etc)

But, if that third step – wait – takes too long we get annoyed, impatient, frustrated and ultimately go somewhere else to find what we’re looking for. 

The internet has evolved from a fairly simple ‘web’ of linked text documents to a place where complex, media-rich websites are the norm. 

We live in a world where users expect to be able to post images of that special celebration direct from their phones in an instant; read the latest football news and catch up with their favourite TV programmes no matter their location or connection.

The rise of the internet has made us data-hungry, and we expect to be able to send and receive that data faster than ever – pretty much instantly, in fact. But getting websites to perform well and load within a time frame that users are happy with is a surprisingly difficult task. The maximum time frame we are talking about here is roughly three to four seconds. 

Studies suggest that 47% of users expect a website to load in two seconds or less, and 57% of users will abandon a mobile site if it takes longer than three seconds to load. This doesn’t give us a lot of time to load the site and all its assets and grab the users attention. Even a one-second delay in page load time can prove costly. 

Some reports suggest that if Amazon’s page load time was just one second slower they would lose $1.6 billion in sales per year, and if Google’s search results page was just four-tenths of a second slower they would lose eight million searches per day. 

So performance matters.

While you might feel that it’s unrealistic to expect every site to match the performance of Google or Amazon, the truth is, your users don’t care about your site issues. They just want to find what they’re looking for, and find it fast.

Unfortunately, speed is not always something that we have complete control over. Other factors come into play when loading a site – other than the data on the site itself; the user's device, internet connection, browsing preferences and speed of the web server are all factors (among others) that impact load speed. 

This can be a source of frustration for both users and agencies like us, but at Good, we like to concentrate on what we can control to make our websites perform better. 

We have discovered that there is no exact science here – no specific rules that apply to all projects. It’s a matter of taking the objectives from the project and altering our solution to fit, with website performance and user experience at the forefront of our thinking.

We carry this on after a project has launched as well - Life After Launch, one of the pillars of our work– means we monitor a website’s performance long after we have first created it, thorough testing and reporting via analytics. This involves us looking at certain parameters and seeing what we can do to make them better. It could mean reducing the number of images on a page; reducing the number of requests made to the server or only loading certain parts of the page when they come into view.

Once these improvements have been made will the performance of our websites be perfect? No, but it will be better, and better is good. 

Performance is relative, not absolute and definitely not perfect, but anything we can do to improve it and keep your users happy can only be a good thing.