The Impact Of A Slow Website Is Bigger Than You Think

No one likes an unresponsive website, but how slow is too slow? A second? Ten seconds? You might find it surprising that waiting even 500 milliseconds can convince a user to take their browser elsewhere. If you want to know just how important it is to have a snappy site, best to take advice from the largest players on the internet.

Picture by Torkild Retvedt / Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons 2.0

Smriti Chawla over at Six Revisions has put together a number of interesting stories from several high-profile companies including Google, Amazon and Akamai. Each focuses on the affects a slow-loading page or site can have on customer retention and service usage and while you'd expect a delay of a few seconds to be annoying, the consensus reveals that even a wait of a few hundred milliseconds can be detrimental.

For example, Google performed an experiment a few years ago where it increased the number of search results returned, the side effect being a rise in the delay for those results being displayed. The change was between 10-30 results, but the impact it had was noticeable. By slowing down the search speed, even though more results were provided, users and search numbers dropped by almost one percent after six weeks.

In terms of improvements, shopping portal Shopzilla performed significant optimisations of its site, cutting load times by five seconds on average. After the tweaks, conversion rates and page views jumped almost immediately, with the latter improving by 25 per cent.

While the internet will be the internet, there are steps you can take to make your site responsive -- be it installing the right caching plugins for your CMS, to making sure GZIP is enabled on your server. With CDNs helping to spread the load of delivering content, there's really no reason for a website to be slow... with the exception of the random DDoS, of course.

Why Website Speed is Important [Six Revisions]


    Agree'd but not just for sites - apps, especially mobile apps. For example bing bar in Windows Phone 8 takes up to 10 seconds to freaking come up with suggestions for searches.. Google's maintains a local cache of sorts to help speed this up, or at least make it look like it IS responding and doing stuff.

    It is indeed true, but when you think about it, 1-2 or even 3 seconds delay might not be too bad... okay, 3 is pushing it for most people. But to think less than a second would cause somebody to quit.... wouldn't it mean that many people are just impatient?

      I just don't get why people are so impatient! For myself max is 10 secs because I know sites over from UK can take this long to load.
      Also if the website is for a shop in a town, I belive the website will load fast for the local because it hosted local while slow if you are not in the same town.

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