The Cost of Slow

Making time for speed

In 2011, a Kissmetrics study found, 47% of consumers expect a page to load in two seconds or less. Pair that alongside another study that shows total page size has been steadily increasing since at least 2011, and despite a decade of statistics making a case for speed, most have yet to make it a first-class citizen.

Many of you have been advocating for speed on your sites for some time. Others know it’s important, but with all the other enhancements and fires you’re fighting, speed has consistently gotten kicked down the list month after month.

As someone who has managed dozens of redesigns and retainers, I understand it’s not easy to convince others to make speed enhancements a priority when you’re getting urgent requests from six different departments for design or feature updates. After all, website speed is somewhat intangible. It’s not something you can easily showcase or something celebrated as a momentous launch or release. You have to tell a very compelling story. Often times, telling that story in dollars is the most effective approach.

Money talks

It’s a no-brainer that a faster site is a better site, but it’s another thing to understand the actual cost of slow.

At a high level, the research overwhelmingly tells a consistent story. A slower site means:

  • Your site is being penalized in search result rankings. That means fewer people are even finding your site.
  • Your users are abandoning your site at a higher rate. Assuming they make it there, the fact is that slower sites retain fewer visitors.
  • Most importantly, you are losing conversions. Slower sites mean fewer purchases, fewer contact requests, lower ad revenue, and reduced leads.

Build your case

These are just some of the studies that can help you make a case. Plug in your numbers and see how your story takes shape.

DoubleClick found publishers whose sites loaded in five seconds or less earned up to twice as much ad revenue than sites loading within 19 seconds. They also had 70% longer sessions, 35% lower bounce rates, and 25% higher ad viewability. DoubleClick also found 53% of mobile site visits were abandoned if a page took longer than 3 seconds to load.

According to an Akamai study, a .1 second in website load time can hurt conversion rates by 7 percent. (that’s point one) A two-second delay in web page load time increase bounce rates by 103%.

Although speed has been used in Google rankings for over 10 years, in July 2018, page speed became a ranking factor for mobile searches.

Not sure why your site is slow? That’s an entirely different post. However, there’s no shortage of online tools to help give you some clues – Page Speed Insights being one of the most popular. A tool like this will give you some great leads and quick wins, but as with many online tools, it lacks the human element. After all, there may be a business-critical reason you have that script running on your site– is it really worth it? What changes are harder to make? Which will have the most impact? Unpacking some of these results and helping prioritize remediations can require some skilled humans. We have lots of those if you’d like to talk.