Research has shown that in fact we are all very impatient, and we’re getting worse. Apparently, the majority of people won’t wait for more than 3 seconds for a web page to load up, before moving on elsewhere, and this is particularly true of shopping websites. In fact, a detailed analysis by Dynatrace, a firm who measure digital performance, has discovered that adding one half second to web page loading times can lose a website 10% of their sales, which can be a staggering loss of trade. What’s more, page loading times are getting longer, not shorter, and we don’t have to look too far to see some of the reasons why.
Nearly every commercial site has multiple connections to other sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Google, and users have to wait for all these connections to load. Live chat functionality is another cause of delay – it’s great to be able to chat with a prospective retailer, but we bear the cost in terms of slower loading speeds. This is rather ironic, because the retailers themselves are choosing to include more and more interactive content, videos and 360 degree images in order to give us a better shopping experience, and all they are doing is adding waiting time, which then sends us off to their faster rivals. Global loading speeds have been measured, and compared to 2015, it is estimated that they have slowed down by 7%, going to 4.5 seconds from 4.2 seconds. A small increase, but a significant one given the 3 second impatience barrier of the user.
It’s not all down to the web page content of course – the speed of your internet connection has a massive impact on web page loading speeds. This is a matter of which I am acutely aware because I live in a rural area with very poor broadband speed. There is little likelihood of me getting high speed broadband in the near future due to the age of the local telephone exchange and its’ antiquated copper wiring, but even I am impatient when websites load more slowly than usual.
Another factor in loading speed is the type and speed of device you are using to access the internet. The older and slower your device, naturally enough, the slower your ability to access web pages – maybe now is the time to get your computer or tablet an MOT and clean-up, a new faster processor, or maybe treat yourself to a whole new device.
Speeds impacts sales
Whatever the solution, retailers are acutely aware that delays in page loading do have a massive impact on their trade – Staples for example recently did a speed-up exercise on their website, and a one second improvement gave them a 10% increase in sales. Other retailers make it appear that their pages are loading quickly by responding to a search request with selected content, giving the rest of the page time to load up in the background. It just goes to show that if retailers can crack the trade-off between rich content and access speeds, they’ve got it made.