My website takes a few seconds to load; what's the big deal?
To answer this question, we need to take a brief look back to the early days of the modern internet — the late nineties. It was a dark time when the best that most of us could manage was dial-up internet that ran at a mere fraction of the speeds that are possible today.
Waiting 15+ seconds for a web page to load was the norm back then — and we were happy to wait because it was just how the internet worked!
But the internet has changed, and so have people's expectations.
We now live in an age of instant gratification where people expect technology to work instantly and flawlessly. When it doesn't, attitudes rapidly turn sour.
According to research by Eggplant Software, 81% of people in the UK found a slow website to be more frustrating than one that was completely inaccessible. Three-quarters of those polled would seek out a competitor to a company if their website were slow.
Research has also shown that a delay of just 1.5 seconds can substantially increase the bounce rate of a website and reduce conversions by up to two-thirds.
In practical terms, a slow website will drive visitors away, with fewer of those who remain converting to paying customers.
It gets even worse for smartphone users.
Mobile devices usually run websites much more slowly than their desktop counterparts due to slower networks and reduced processing power.
As a result, on mobile, that 1.5-second loading time could suddenly increase to upwards of 7 seconds.
A slow website will reduce your visibility on Google.
In light of a slow website's impact on user experience, search engines have been placing increasing value on a website's performance. To the point where page speed is now a direct factor in how well websites perform in search results.
Slower websites will still appear in search engine results, of course, but a slow website will be placed considerably further down the page.
Unfortunately, if you're not on page one, you might as well be invisible, as three-quarters of people don't browse past the first page of search results.
Even being placed halfway down the first page of results will drastically reduce the number of visits to your site. And to put it rather simplistically, clicks mean customers.
Ultimately, a slow website will impact people's perceptions of your business and the professionalism of the owners. "What else are they cutting corners on if they aren't investing in their website?"
If your website is slow to load,
- You're annoying potential customers to the point they'll seek out a competitor.
- Search engines will prioritise other websites over your own for highly competitive search terms.
- You run the risk of your business unfairly making a poor first impression.