Why Website Speed Affects Conversions — Down to the Millisecond

Fast Internet Connection
Written by Guest Author

Fast Internet Connection

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 — not even the blink of an eye. So speed matters . . . a lot. When your site doesn’t load in a flash, most users will leave and your conversions will suffer.

The Magic Load Time For Websites

“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.

That was back in 2012.

Today consumers have shorter attention spans than goldfish. And that could explain why even an imperceptibly short pause — 100 milliseconds — can lead visitors to leave retail websites, according research released earlier this year.

For context, a millisecond is a thousandth of a second!

Here’s a small-business example: a manager 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 one or two seconds, she goes to the next link: The Century Diner, whose website loads in less than 100 milliseconds. She orders lunch from them. The Silver Diner lost business due to slow speed.

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The Rise of Mobile Devices

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 either.

In one study, mobile pages that loaded one second faster were able to increase their conversion rate by 27 percent. That is a significant change and can have a dramatic impact on your business. This same study also found that 2.4 seconds of total load time is the “sweet spot.”   

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The faster your website loads, regardless of the device used to access it, the better chance you have to win over customers.

Benefits of Increasing Site Speed

Businesses that increase the speed of their site – whether standard or mobile – stand to win big.

Consider this load-time example from Kissmetrics: if an e-commerce company is making $100,000 per day then a one-second delay could be costing the company nearly $2.5 million in lost sales per year!

In fact, site speed is now 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.

Did you know Google penalizes sites that aren’t mobile friendly?

So What Causes Slow Loads?

What causes a website to download slowly? 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 web hosting company and design team should be able to help you overcome these challenges through testing your site speed and analyzing the results.

Need to run some diagnostic tests on your slow website? DreamHost can help.

What Can You Do To Improve Your Site’s Performance?

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.

Learn the common causes of poor website performance — and what to do about it!

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

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