Skinny is better, sadly

It’s not just the modelling world that seems to prefer skinny things, so does the average the Internet visitor. Page load speed matters, and it is time to get serious about it. According to Strangeloop Networks reducing load time increases performance and therefore slower page load hurts conversion rate:

  • 57% of visitors will abandon a website if the waiting time reaches 3 seconds
  • Between 1995 and 2010, the average web page grew from 14k with 2.3 objects to 484k with 75 objects
  • In 2009, Shopzilla became the poster child for web performance when it shaved almost 5 seconds from its page load times and increased revenue by 7-12%
  • Amazon reported that 100ms improvement in speed gave a 1% increase in performance
  • In 2008, Yahoo! reported that making pages just 400 milliseconds slower resulted in a traffic drop of up to 9%.

That’s pretty staggering and, in most cases, is an easy fix by cutting down files sizes, optimising code and reducing the amount or superfluous imagery. There are competing pressures coming from our “better connected” web. For example the Google +1 button and the Facebook Like button add over one second of load time to your page, according to a recent research study by TagMan, a tag management and acceleration company.

To complicate things further, Google for years has been telling anyone who will listen that website speed is as an important factor in determining rankings. “One of the 10 things we hold to be true here at Google is that fast is better than slow. We keep speed in mind in all things that we do, and the +1 button is no exception,” according to a post published this week on Google’s Webmaster Central Blog.

It is widely preached that page load speed should be under the magic 2-second mark and Google will normally reward this speed with a better ranking. It is then a little surprising that almost half of the top 500 online retailers exceed THREE seconds. Mad.

Almost all of the approaches to speeding the site up will involve a technical understanding of what’s going on to deliver your web-site so it’s a subject to raise with your web development agency.