Nothing is more frustrating than staring at a blank page after a few seconds. Even with a quality design, your site will fail to keep visitors engaged if it loads too slowly. Loading times largely determine whether visitors will stay on your site or navigate elsewhere to a competing page.
Even a few seconds is enough to have a negative impact on your business and cause visitors to abandon your site in frustration. Improving loading times then needs to be a priority to avoid this scenario. Design certainly matters to make an impression but loading times shouldn’t be overlooked either.
Here we look at several major reasons why website speed matters.
1. Visitors Expect a Fast Browsing Experience
Consumers today simply do not have the patience to wait for sites to load.
A study from Akamai found that nearly half of online users expect a web page to load in two seconds or less and will not hesitate to leave if it takes any longer. The study also showed a correlation between loading times and overall satisfaction. Online shoppers who cited slow speeds were more likely to rate their experience negatively.
The following chart from Torbit shows the impact that loading times have on bounce rates:
The results are clear: Site speed is absolutely critical. If your site takes longer than a few seconds to load, it leaves a poor impression with your visitors and you risk losing them forever. Consumers may be more tolerant with major sites such as Facebook but you don’t have that same luxury.
This is why it is important to design for speed right from the start.
2. Site Speed Impacts Conversions
Slow speeds undermine sales.
Think about your own personal experience. You do an online search for home appliances and click through to one of the product pages in the search results. But after a few seconds the page is still loading. Do you stay or leave? Chances are that you would click the back button and click on a different result.
After interviewing 1,048 online shoppers, the study from Akamai (mentioned above) found that:
- 40% will abandon a page if it takes longer than three seconds to load
- 52% of online shoppers indicated that fast loading pages are important for site loyalty
- 14% of shoppers will shop elsewhere if pages load slowly and 23% will stop shopping altogether
- 79% of shoppers who experience a dissatisfying visit are less likely to shop from that site again
- 57% of online shoppers insist on a fast checkout process
Online shoppers are unforgiving when it comes to site speeds. The data makes it clear that visitors will not hesitate to abandon a site if it takes too long to load. As you can expect, this has a negative impact on conversion rates. But just how much?
A study by TagMan (tag management supplier) found a strong correlation between site speeds and conversion rates. Conversions dropped by about 6.7% for each additional second it took for the site to load.
Page abandonment means that no conversions can take place. And you risk losing potential sales due to loading delays.
3. Site Speed is Now a Ranking Factor
Google is obsessed with improving browsing experiences.
The simple reality is that slow speeds negatively impact the user experience. No one has the time or patience to wait around for pages to load so most will end up abandoning the site altogether. Google has always rewarded quality sites and site speed is no exception.
Site speed has been a ranking factor for many years now which meant that slow sites would be penalised in the search results. Loading times will continue to be important especially as mobile usage becomes more prominent. In fact, several reports indicate that Google will soon be incorporating mobile speed into this ranking factor in the coming months.
Improving your site speed won’t necessarily result in overnight rankings. But it can result in major competitive advantages in other areas especially user experience.
Steps to Improving Your Site Speed
Every second counts.
Even with a beautiful design you risk losing sales due to loading delays. The PageSpeed Insights tool from Google gives you a rough score of how your site fairs in term of performance. It also tells you exactly what areas need improvement. What makes the PageSpeed Insights tool particularly useful is that it provides insight on both the mobile and desktop versions of your site.
Here are examples from the Yahoo site:
Clicking on the suggestions provides more details on issues that are slowing the site down. Click through to each to find out the steps needed to make your site load faster.
Site speed matters.
Consumers expect pages to load quickly. A number of studies have shown that visitors will not hesitate to abandon a site if they have to wait longer than a few seconds. This leads to higher bounce rates which has a negative impact on conversion rates. Google has even made site speed a ranking factor so your site could rank lower in the search results if it’s too slow.
Use the PageSpeed Insights tool to identify and improve areas that are slowing down the mobile and desktop versions of your site. Remember, an improvement of even one second can have a positive impact on conversions so taking these steps is well worth the effort.