This post will look at 5 studies that show how load times impact conversions and then 3 tips that can dramatically improve your website load times.
How long does it take visitors to load your website?
If they are forced to wait five seconds or longer, many users will likely back out of your website without waiting for it to load. Whether your site is designed to sell a product, sell a service, generate leads, or simply to brand your business, you'll want to pay close attention to load times, because it can and WILL affect your conversion rate.
5 Studies That Paint a Pretty Clear Picture On User's Reactions to Load Times
Around 88% of our Ecommerce clients are savvy to the importance of website load times, but just how important is it? Let's take a look at 5 studies done by leading online businesses and data research centers to get an idea of what a simple second can mean to your website.
1. Amazon's Study on Load Times
Several years ago, Amazon conducted an internal study to determine how load times impacted its sales. The world's largest online retailer discovered that for every 100ms increase in load times, it saw a 1% decrease in sales. 1% may seem insignificant, but that translates into millions of dollars of lost revenue per year. Will you experience the same results by adding 100ms of load time to your website? Not necessarily, as each and every website is different. But the fact remains that longer load times will lower your site's sales/conversions.
2. Google's Study on Load Times
Jean-Marc Tassetto, General Manager of Google France - 07/02/2013 Pic from Lydia Arzour - Twitter (thanks!)
Google conducted its own study on load times in conversions, finding that just a 0.5 second increase in load times caused a 20% decrease in traffic. That means roughly 1 in 5 users exit out of Google because of the slight yet noticeable increase in load times.
3. Load Times and Search Rankings
Of course, load times may also impact your website's search ranking. In 2010, Google announced on its blog that it would be using site speed as a ranking signal, meaning fast-loading websites will rank higher in the search results than their slow-loading counterparts.
"Like us, our users place a lot of value in speed - that's why we've decided to take site speed into account in our search rankings. We use a variety of sources to determine the speed of a site relative to other sites," wrote Google when announcing the news.
4. Forrester Research on Load Times
Internet users today expect websites to load faster than before. According to a study conducted by the market research firm Forrester Research, the average Internet user will wait just three seconds before clicking the back button in his or her web browser. Forrester Research had conducted this same study just four years ago, in which it found that users were willing to wait four seconds for a website to load. Assuming this trend continues, users will likely become even more impatient in the years to follow, attesting to the need for a fast-loading website.
5. Akamai and Gomez.com research on Load Times
Nearly half of web users expect a site to load in 2 seconds or less, and they tend to abandon a site that isn't loaded within 3 seconds. 79% of web shoppers who have trouble with web site performance say they won't return to the site to buy again and around 44% of them would tell a friend if they had a poor experience shopping online.
Compete With The Big Boys: 3 Tips To Dramatically Improve Load Times
If you're looking to make your site competitive, then your site needs to be fast. So, what should you look for in an ecommerce platform and what can you do to speed up your site in order to make it competitive? Here are 3 key tips that you may not have read about.
1. Use CSS Sprites instead of Multiple Images
There are dozens of posts out there telling people how to compress their images, but one often overlooked way of bringing your image load time down is to compile your graphics into one master image that only loads once. Here's an example:
2. Enable GZIP Compression
GZIP Compression allows your web server to provide smaller file sizes that load faster for your website users. Compression of your HTML and CSS files with gzip typically saves around fifty to seventy percent of the file size. This means that it takes less time to load your pages, and less bandwidth is used over all. If you're running WordPress you can use a plugin like; WordPress Gzip Compression to make the process easier.
3. Use a CDN
A content delivery network (CDN) is a system of distributed servers (network) that deliver webpages and other Web content to a user based on the geographic locations of the user, the origin of the webpage and a content delivery server. Many hosted Ecommerce Solutions like BigCommerce utilize CDNs to improve speed for their customers. If you're using WordPress, check out this post by YOAST for using MaxCDN.
Our natural desire is to create super cool web pages rich in content and imagery, however the importance of load time is undeniable and to compete effectively we must find a balance between a rich experience and simple, clean code.