Page load time is all too easily forgotten when you’re adding apps, working on content marketing and direct sales and working on, or in, your actual business. Even when business owners turn their attention to their websites, they’ll look at copy, site architecture, appearance. But page load time could be costing you customers.
How is page load time a marketing matter? Because your website is delivering marketing content to you customers. And if it takes too long to load, they’re not seeing it; they’re just clicking away. A website that’s hard to navigate, or where the calls to action aren’t easy to find and intuitive, leaks visitors. So what do you think happens when your page takes too long to load?
In 2006 Greg Linden, of Amazon, tested consumer response to load rates. He found that increments of load time as small as 1/100th of a second caused measurable drops in revenue (Source: Greg Linden). Akamai Technologies found in 2009 that the average user expected a site to load in 2 seconds or less (Source: Akamai Technologies). That was in 2009! In 2015, sites with 3-second load time lose 22% page views and see 50% more bounce and 22% fewer conversions compared to a site with a 1-second load time. Load in 5 seconds? Say goodbye to 35% in page views, 38% conversions and say hello to a 105% higher bounce rate (Source: WebPerformanceToday).
Yet sites are getting slower, not faster.
Customers want bigger sites. They respond well to images, animation, video. Ecommerce customers want more items per page, more detail, more interactivity. But they’re absolutely not prepared to pay for any of it in increased load time. So hostile are users to high load times that Google is bringing out a ‘slow’ warning for mobile websites.
Where does this leave small businesses? We still have to strike a balance between a super basic site and a site that loads fast enough. Here’s what to do:
Shoot for a 2-second load speed or less on desktop and mobile. Remove anything that puts load time above 2 seconds.
Consider a Content Delivery network (CDN). This puts critical files on servers close to the viewer’s location, accelerating load times.
Look again at images. Change formats to achieve lighter weight and faster load.
Get the most from your cache; spread the load by having as much data as possible carried in users’ caches.
Check hardware, including servers; check hosting.
You might not have the time or skillset to do all these yourself, but your developer should be able to substantially increase load speed on your current site by prioritising it. Even if you wind up having to move servers or get new hosting, the jump in revenues delivered by fast load speed is worth it!