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In 2009, Akamai and Forrester found that visitors expected Web pages to load in under two seconds. As the penetration and speed of broadband connections have increased, visitors in 2011 want a Web page to load in under one second; millisecond increases in load time significantly reduce page views, revenue and even detrimentally affect the site's Google ranking.
User experience expert, Jakob Nielsen says that a Web page that loads within one second gives viewers the feeling of an instantaneous response. Rather than thinking about the computer, the user feels that they have control of the experience. They remain engaged with the content and feel that they can navigate freely.
In stark contrast, visitors who experience slow Web pages feel they have lost control of the interaction. Research corroborates that slow Web pages cause visitors to loose their train of thought as they start to think about the wait. When the Web page does load they don't click as readily, conscious that requesting further content might cause additional delays. What is surprising is just how tiny the delays need to be to detrimentally impact a website's conversion rates:
- For Google an increase in Web page load time from 0.4 seconds to 0.9 seconds decreased traffic and ad revenues by 20%
- Bing and Google found that a delay as small as 0.4 seconds reduced people's usage of those sites - on that visit and in future visits
- A 0.5 second delay reduced Bing's revenue by a staggering 4.3%
- A 1.0 second increase in Web page load time decreased Firefox's conversions by 2.7%
- A 0.1 second increase in load time decreased Amazon's sales by 1%
Since 2010, Google has included website speed as part of its search-ranking algorithm. So, fast sites also attract a higher search engine ranking.
For these reasons, it is imperative that organizations that are serious about their websites, need to verify and optimize the performance of their online content.
Simone Maier is the Product Marketing Manager of WatchMouse, a company that monitors websites and services 24x7 from over 50 locations worldwide and delivers detailed insight about their performance, uptime, and functionality. Inspired by the dashboards of Amazon and Google, WatchMouse introduced Public Status Pages (PSP) in early 2010. Companies like Twitter, Mozilla, WordPress, and many more use this product to be even more transparent to their customers, users and developers.