Time is definitely money when it comes to the Web. In particular, the slower it takes your website to load, the less patient your visitors will be waiting, and the more often they will leave your site without buying anything. And things are only getting worse. According to a 2013 report for CIO.com, the load time for the top 2,000 retail websites (as ranked by Alexa.com) increased by 22% over the course of the previous year. Given that our attention spans are decreasing, you don’t want to be contributing to this trend.
According to surveys done by Akamai and Gomez.com, nearly half of web users expect a site to load in 2 seconds or less, and 40% of them tend to abandon a site that isn’t loading within 3 seconds. That doesn’t leave a lot of wiggle room, or time to be staring at your screen. And just adding an additional second of load time to your page results in not only 11% fewer page views and a 16% decrease in customer satisfaction, but also a 7% loss in conversions to sales. This according to an often-cited 2008 report by the Aberdeen Group. Conversely, according to Walmart Labs, if you shave off that second, both conversion rates and incremental revenues improve. They even found additional revenues in ecommerce sites that were able to reduce load times by 100 milliseconds. Think about that: this is almost too brief an interval to even measure!
While it is difficult to track causes of abandoned Web shopping carts, the total dollar figure could be somewhere around $3 billion annually. That is a lot of items being left out in cyper-limbo. Certainly, slow load times is a major contributing factor. And as more Web shoppers use their mobile phones and slower wireless network connections, this means increasing frustrations too.
So how can you speed up your website? There are lots of things to help. First, you should examine and then optimize your page coding so that it takes the least amount of time to load. There are various HTML tricks to ensure that your Web server isn’t wasting time processing your code, including cutting down on image sizes and eliminating page redirect commands.
Second, employ a site monitoring tool to keep track and get to the root causes of any delays with your site. There are dozens of tools out there, Network World reviewed six of them here last summer that are worth taking a closer look. These tools can also help you tune your app servers to minimize delays with your Web servers. Your developers should be paying attention to this, but sometimes they miss less obvious coding errors that introduce additional network latencies.
Finally, if you have an audience from a wide geographic area, make sure you look into using a Content Deliver Network or cloud acceleration services. These services cache frequently visited pages and can cut down on page load times significantly.