Business Insights

Does a slow website really cost you?

Hamish Braddick
Published on

Having flash and lots of animation on your website might seem like an appealing option but the reality is that it could be costing you more than you think. Not only do you have to consider higher bandwidth costs and the rent of the servers, the slow loading website could actually be effecting the number of sales you get from your website.

Why is that? It's because many studies conducted by a number of experts have shown that a fast website can persuade your users to take action better than a slow website.

How exactly can it effect your business?

Not only does a slow website mean that your visitor is not getting instant feedback, i.e., they are having to wait for things to happen so they are not as engaged, but if your website is really slow the user would have left well before it even loads.

A number of large industry players have actually quantified the effect of page loading times on their results:

  • Amazon's tests in 2007 also showed that every 100 millisecond increase in load time resulted in a decrease of sales by 1%

  • Facebook also found that increasing page load time decreased the number of pages the users visited during their session

  • Google's tests in 2006 showed that increasing load time by 500 milliseconds resulted in 20% drop in traffic – that's just half a second!

This is one of the main reasons why Google is looking to speed up the web and encourage website owners to do everything they can to keep their page loading speeds as small as possible. Google recognises that fast loading websites provide a good user experience, and their job is to find the best and the most relevant websites and put them at the top of the search results. The way Google judges the 'best' results is based on a number of factors but website speed has become a big factor in the mix.

So what is a good response time for website loading?

Usability guru Jakob Nielsen in his article Response Times: The Three Important Limits gives advice based on studies on what is acceptable when it comes to response times:

  • 0.1second delay is about the limit for the user to feel that the system is reacting instantaneously
  • 1second delay is about the limit for the user's thought to stay uninterrupted, i.e., they are not thinking about any other tasks. However, even at this fast speed the user will notice the delay
  • 10sec delay is about the limit for keeping the user's mind focused on the conversation that you are trying to have. Any longer, and your user will look for other things to do while waiting for the website to load. This could very well be to surf other websites.

Since the general internet speed in NZ doesn't allow for loading speeds of under 1second, the target for your web pages should be to load within 10 seconds on a 56k modem as a rough guide. We say 56k modem because if you cater for the worst case dial-up speed scenario, you will be well covered for the broadband users. So if you are over the 10 second threshold by a small amount, you should be OK as most homes in New Zealand now have broadband.

If you'd like to find out how long your website takes to download request our free Website Audit service which will tell you exactly how your website is performing.

If you have a Zeald website, learn how to lower the time it takes for your images and content to download.

Hamish Braddick
Published on