Whether it’s in line or online, nobody likes to wait. Website visitors have developed an expectation that websites will load quickly, and if not they will move on. A number of studies have found that the impact of slow loading pages is significant, especially for transactional Web sites:
“Lost sales are the most obvious consequence of customer frustration (with page load times), but many shoppers indicated the overall brand or image of the company would suffer as well.” (source: e-commerce Web Site Performance Today, Forrester, 2009)
In this case, time quite literally equals money. Furthermore, some of the Web’s busiest sites have done internal studies and have found real revenue impacts from sluggish load times:
Current & Future Expectations
During the Internet’s infancy, sluggish servers and bloated Websites were hidden behind very slow Internet connections. However, today the average visitors are connecting at megabit speeds. Load times have begun to play a factor in purchasing decisions.
A 2009 Forrester study found that 47% of visitors expect a Web page to load in 2 seconds or less, and 40% will abandon if it takes more than 3 seconds. Furthermore consumers have begun associating load times with their perception of a brand’s credibility and quality. According to the same study, 27% of consumers say that visiting a slow site makes them more likely to visit a competitor!
The Mobile Web
The same is true for the mobile web. While the challenges of mobile delivery are unique, visitor expectations and frustrations are the same. Mobile network speeds are catching up to their broadband counterparts, and the same phenomenon is starting to occur — visitors will not tolerate slow sites. Consumer trends also point to the continued shift of e-commerce to smart phones, which further magnifies the impact of load times.
Websites need to make sure that their content is optimized for mobile phones. This is often a significant technical and design investment. Creative assets need to be resized and your servers need to be aware of what device your visitor is using. However, if you plan on targeting young and savvy consumers, mobile optimization is a must.
Like going to the dentist, optimizing your site for speed can seem like a painful and daunting task. Often times infrastructure has to be improved, code re-written, and creative assets compressed. However, most of the time this optimization pays for itself. Speed improvements have been shown to improve your bottom line, and over a dozen studies have shown a positive ROI.
Have you seen a substantial business impact from increased website performance? Please share your comment below.