Big hat tip to Thomas Cott for linking to an article about how quickly people will abandon a webpage if it is loading slowly. The title tells pretty much everything you need to know about the problem – Slow pages hurt conversions, but marketers aren’t in a hurry to fix them. (my emphasis below)
[Unbounce] then conducted two parallel surveys of consumers and marketers to understand their respective attitudes toward page speed. Nearly 75 percent of consumers surveyed said they’d wait four or more seconds for a mobile site to load. However, Google data show that most people abandon sites after three seconds if content hasn’t loaded.
The majority of survey respondents indicated that slow-loading sites would negatively affect their willingness to buy and even return to the particular site. Surprisingly, women were more impatient than men in this regard.
Interestingly a majority of consumers said they wanted faster-loading sites even it meant giving up animations, video and images. The good news for brands and publishers is that most consumers were more inclined to blame their ISP (50.5 percent) than the site itself (34.2 percent).
Even though people were willing to blame their ISP over the site, that is no reason to think you can get by. Over 1/3 of respondents blamed the site itself. People are experienced enough to have a good sense where the blame lay.
Among the top suggestions for solving this issue are optimizing image and video size; improving caching and hosting and running speed tests.
If you are at a loss for where to even start to learn how to do these things–ArtsHacker has a whole series devoted to this. The impetus for this was anticipated slow downs due to net neutrality rulings by the FCC so there are a number of strategies in that series that you can use. You will definitely find pieces on image compression, speed tests, database optimization and minimizing the impact of page requests.
Granted, some of these procedures should not be undertaken if you are inexperienced working under the hood of your website. By the same token, if you don’t know much about how website traffic works, the articles can give you new information and a better sense of what things contribute to slow downs on your website.
Something I am curious about that is tangentially related is how quickly people will abandon a video if an ad they can’t quickly skip starts playing. This doesn’t usually impact videos embedded as performance samples in website that I have seen, but there have been a number of times I decided I wasn’t interested enough in a news piece to wait for an ad to finish. I suspect I am more patient with those ads than most so it makes me wonder about the long term viability of those ads. Especially as YouTube seems to be getting increasingly insistent in their offers to sign up for their paid service.