Forget the statistics, and forget what experts say. Think about your own experience as a browser. What gets your goat most when you visit a website? What will make you tut-tut in impatience and click away? Slow loading, right? Site speed is a major factor in site traffic and conversions that many eCommerce website owners overlook to their detriment. In one study, more than half of all eCommerce websites are still loading too slowly.
User experience and site speed
People have little patience when it comes to websites, especially when it comes to page loading. So many websites are competing for their attention that they can just go somewhere else if they feel they’re wasting their time. With Internet speeds clocking in at a minimum of 3Gb/s, a webpage that takes more than four seconds to load has a big problem. According to Kissmetrics, some people (three percent) have very little patience, clicking away if the site takes more than one second to load.
At four seconds, 25 percent of people you worked so hard to bring to your page will simply click away. At 10 seconds, make that 30 percent. Some studies put it at 40 percent, actually. At least one in every four people will not bother to wait to see what you have to offer. Another way to look at it is one person in four you will probably not see again.
Search ranking and site speed
Aside from resulting in a negative user experience, the Google ranking of slow websites may also suffer. There has been some debate over whether Google actually measures site speed when ranking a site, and how important it is in the final analysis. Developers did announce five years ago that it did, but no peep about it since then. That is not really surprising — Google is notoriously closemouthed about its algorithms. In any case, it would be good to err on the side of caution.
Real losses to eCommerce sites
We have mentioned earlier that a full 30 percent of site visitors will abandon a website. This is a considerable loss of potential sales as well as a waste of resources.
A basic eCommerce website costs between $5,000 and $10,000 to develop, and that is not including search engine optimization such as content development, link building and marketing strategies. A conservative estimate for the cost of an eCommerce website that ranks well in search engines would be about $20,000. A little bit of that money and effort goes down the drain every time a user clicks away because the loading time is too long.
How do you know if your site speed is slow? You can check it using free services such as Pingdom.
Tips on how to improve site speed
To put it in perspective, reducing the page load time from eight seconds to five seconds increases the value of each page to users by 18 percent. While many factors come into play in search engine ranking, most of them are not easy to fix. You can easily fix your site speed by choosing the right hosting service, reducing the size of your images, and eliminating some bells and whistles that do not really add value to the UX. Here are other ways to improve your site speed.
• Nix plugins and add-ons you don’t need – you can reduce load time by as much as 86 percent.
• Configure social media buttons, analytics, and ad codes to use asynchronous delivery.
• Use caching – in WordPress you can use enable the W3 Total Cache or W3 Super Cache plugins.
• Consider a Content Delivery Network such as Cloudfare.
• Include Google Page Speed in your server.
You can do some of these improvements yourself, but some may be too technical for the typical non-techie to understand. Contact your Web administrator (if you have one) or do a search for articles especially crafted for beginners with practical DIY tips.
Your online business depends heavily on site traffic and conversions, so it is uber important that your website is optimized. Pay attention to your site speed to deliver the best possible UX you can and reduce page abandonment.