Website Speed FTW – Why Milliseconds Matter

Fast, Faster, Cheetah...

We live in a fast-paced world. Everyone expects quick results. In fact, when consumers research products and services online, they won’t wait long to get answers. So speed matters…a lot. When your site doesn’t download in two to five seconds, most users will leave.

People will visit a site less often if it’s slower than a competitor by more than 250 milliseconds (a millisecond is a thousandth of a second).

“Two hundred fifty milliseconds, either slower or faster, is close to the magic number now for competitive advantage on the Web,” said Harry Shum, a computer scientist and speed specialist at Microsoft.

A secretary is searching on her mobile device for a restaurant where she can order lunch for her staff. She clicks on The Silver Diner link and waits. After five seconds she goes to the next link, The Century Diner, whose website loads in three seconds. She orders lunch from them. The Silver Diner lost business due to slow speed.

The rise of mobile made website speed even more important. Most people have mobile devices that they use for buying and selling products and services. Even those using desktop computers expect quick results because they can go to another link quickly. Businesses have many tasks to accomplish, so they won’t wait long for search results. The faster your website loads, the better chance you have to win over customers.

Businesses that increase the speed of their site – whether standard or mobile – earn a 20 percent increase in sales. And the speed factor applies to small and large businesses. With the right web host and tools, you can optimize your site’s speed and compete to win. In fact, site speed is part of the equation Google uses to determine page rank. Google conducted several studies showing that users prefer pages that load fast. They tend to stay on these sites longer and return often when pages load quickly.

What causes a website to download slowly? Sometimes too many pop-up ads, large images that should be resized, incompatible browsers and applications, and not testing the web pages thoroughly in different settings. Your hosting company and design team should help you overcome these challenges. They often have software to test your site speed and analyze your results. They can determine what needs to be done to speed up your site!

They can test your web pages in different browser and platforms. There are many solutions – large images can be optimized and resized to download quickly. Files can be compressed without sacrificing quality. Your website code can be revamped, even having scripts and CSS load in external files. Web pages can be cached with a content management system, or you could use a Content Delivery network to improve speed.  Often they deliver pages based on location of customer.

Remember, site speed matters because it’s a key factor for customer retention and acquisition. And when it comes to your business success, every millisecond matters!

Photo by Flickr User Martin Heigan

This is a guest post by: Rachel LaCour Niesen

Rachel LaCour Niesen is co-founder and Chief Ideation Officer of MatchStick Strategies. Find more musings from Rachel
on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

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