Users want immediate access to content, while the seven second attention span of the average person ensures that the focus of your browser will wane quickly.
A poor page load time is as bad, if not worse, than outright poor design.
No longer can one go without optimizing every aspect of website speed, from graphics to backend, your website needs to be lightning fast.
Here we’ll be taking a closer look at why consumers love a fast loading website, and helping you to understand where improvements can be made.
Your Site Speed Affects the First, and Lasting Impression
Visitors demand fast loading pages and flawless website speed overall. Studies conducted by KISSMetrics show that most visitors expect a site to open within two seconds. Compare this to the simple landing page of most search engines.
Google takes under a second to open thanks to its clean design, a similar simplicity is seen on Bing. Make sure that your site’s first impression is not marred by an overcrowded design style or page speed optimization which is lacking.
Simple Sites Are Preferred Over Busy Layouts
A Harvest University study confirms that users indeed prefer simple, minimalistic websites over complex, colourful creations. Their research shows that a clean, visually appealing site with a low complexity and intuitive design conveys trust upon first impression.
They concluded that colourfulness and visual complexity accounts for a 48% variance in whether or not a user forms a favourable impression. Stick to quick loading, focus-targeted pages with few other elements, for they pose too distracting to retain the attention of your visitors.
A Slow Loading Website is Typically Seen as Bandwidth Heavy
Across many areas of the world, capped internet access is prevalent. Having to pay for every megabyte of your data is a problem which has long faced mobile users and with mobile users rising above the amount of desktop users, bandwidth is more of a problem now than it has ever been. If your site begins to lag, taking anything more than a few seconds to open, the chances are the user will close it in order to save data. This happens regardless of how bandwidth-intensive your page may be. Don’t leave this misimpression, page speed optimization is imperative.
Consumers Who Want to Buy, Don’t Want to Wait
The impatience of online consumers is not to be underestimated. Major companies from every industry have reported how page load time affects their conversion rate. Just take a look at the following statistics:
- Walmart increased their conversion rate by 2% for every second they cut off their page load time.
- Amazon reports a loss of 1% of their revenue for every 100 millisecond increase in site load time.
- Yahoo’s traffic increased by 9% for every 400 milliseconds that they could improve their page load time.
- Microsoft discovered that two-second slower searches in Bing resulted in a 4.3% decrease in revenue per user.
- The Obama Fundraising Campaign managed to increase their donation conversions by 14% by just decreasing their page load time from five seconds to two seconds.
Mobile Users Expect the Same Page Load Times as Desktop Users
Only eleven percent of all mobile users expect their page load time to be slower than accessing the site on a desktop platform, while 12% actually expect their load times to be faster. This is despite the fact that mobile users typically have slower internet connections on average.
There is nothing which frustrates users more than a slow website, 40% of all users will abandon your site completely if it takes longer than three seconds to load. Given the fact that more than half the world uses a smartphone, page speed optimization is essential. The urgency is shown through developments such as Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages, an open-source framework that allows mobile content to be rendered much faster thanks to the content being lighter-weight.
Users Need to Get What They Expect, Quickly
If you give users too much information, a layout which is too cluttered, a colour scheme which is too colourful or any delay which keeps them guessing for too long, they will become confused and leave. Too many options, or the possibility that options are missing (as results from page elements taking too long to load), and you are literally throwing away visitors.
A slow page load time makes your visitors trust you less which in turn results in a high bounce rate and low viewer retention rates. Make certain that your pages are clear and focused upon one point, with your page load time being low enough that attention does not stray towards thoughts of mistrust or confusion.
If there are any delays between delivering the result of an interactive process on your site, then make sure that you inform the user clearly.
Chances are you’ve lost a visitor for good.
Above the Fold Page Load Time Needs to Take Priority
Above the fold typically refers to the first horizontal half of your webpage that is displayed upon opening your site, without scrolling down.
The page speed optimization of elements within this section needs to be fast, with as little delay as possible, as this is the section of your site where visitors will first place their attention. Make sure that the above fold section is optimized while other elements such as sidebar ads and your footer can be left lower on your page load priority list.
Use Visual Cues to Guide the Attention of Browsers
If you have to include a fancy widget or multimedia which takes long to load, then be sure to make use of visual cues. Eye-tracking studies have shown that the left hand side of the screen is viewed far more often than the right, with users reverting to a L-pattern of observation.
Using this information, ensure that your visual cues and graphics guiding the user through your site are well optimized and placed in the best possible space. Users don’t want to be left confused and always need to know that a delay will arise, well-before it actually does. Your website speed will always be compromised in certain areas, don’t let this happen without a clear notification.
All Consumers Love a Fast Loading Website
When you carry out page speed optimization, you not only improve one aspect of your site, but rather the entire user experience and overall success of your endeavour.
As you have clearly seen, every aspect of user acquisition and retention is affected from the very first impression that your website speed gives.
Take the time to evaluate each aspect of your site and optimize where necessary. It is well worth the effort and any expense that may be incurred as all parties benefit in many areas.
You will be keeping your customers happy, while making sure that none slip through your fingers.