Imagine being at an amusement park and your favorite ride has a long line, but the one next to it is short. How long does the cue have to be before the other ride seems like the better option? How long are you willing to wait for an elevator before taking the stairs? It’s a fairly obvious nature to recognize: no one likes waiting. However, there is a degree of tolerance depending on what you are waiting for. When it comes to the ride, you might be willing to wait a lot longer than an elevator. Now, let’s consider how long a normal user is willing to wait for your site. With smartphones at one’s fingertips and wireless access almost everywhere, users are wanting to use your site now. And there are aspects of your site that could very well be making them wait.
So how long is too long? According to surveys done by Akamai, even in 2009 users would become impatient when pages took longer than two seconds to load and 40% of consumers abandoned a site after three seconds. If 10 years ago users expected load times of about 6 seconds and then 5 years ago around two seconds, you can take a good guess that users want to wait even less now. However, even earlier this year the media load time of top retail sites was coming in at around 9 seconds. In comparison to those sites, how is your site doing?
Your site loads on your desktop way below 9 seconds? Well, what about your mobile users? Connection matters of course and there are different speeds users are browsing the internet. Maybe you are using DSL, Cable, or fiber optics for your home connection and they do have some pretty fast speeds. With more and more smartphones and tablets getting into the market, though, users are wanting to browse on the go more than ever. You may be on 4G or LTE with full bars and get pretty good speeds as well. But not all users are in ideal conditions and actually mobile users have a larger overhead, especially on 3G. Even though they may not be in ideal conditions the page load expectations are still there. This also applies to desktop users, since ISP speeds aren’t always consistent.
What is causing our users to wait
Full infograph at blog.kissmetrics.com
Early on in the mobile web world, sites had separate mobile versions made to cater to that audience. Often, those designs were very simple and there wasn’t a lot of imagery or content. The sites tended to be a "dumbed down" version of their desktop sites. With mobile users wanting to do everything from a desktop site on their mobile devices, Responsive Web Design gained popularity. It was a great approach to reach every user spanning across pretty much any device/screen size. However, a majority of sites are still built with a "desktop down" rather than a "mobile up" approach.
Rest easy; we have options
Many sites out there that still have 10+ images in more than one rotating slideshow on their homepage. It may look great on desktop and, since the overhead isn’t as bad as on mobile, maybe page loads don’t seem too bad. However, mobile users end up suffering the most with that approach and they get little gain for it. How often have you gone through every slide in a slideshow? That’s why a majority of the big name companies that went responsive have lately changed from slideshows to one image banners for homepages. Take a look at the content on your pages and be conscientious of how many images, third party tools, banner ads, etc. there are. If you can determine any extraneous imagery, you might consider moving it to another page or removing it.
These are just some of the ways to reduce page load and get your users to stop waiting and keep them coming back. There are many options out there and we can work with you on determining what works best for you. You may not need to reach 1000ms speeds and the gains may not be worth the large amount of development time to make that happen. However, every second counts in the world of the web so even shedding a couple off your current page speeds is something to keep in mind.