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Page load times annoy shoppers

Posted by Michael Bloch in web development (Wednesday November 8, 2006 )

You’d think with so many people using broadband now that page load times shouldn’t be an issue. Not so according to recent surveys of online shoppers which state that nearly all respondents complained that web sites load too slowly. It’s a particularly important point to be aware of with the holiday shopping season already under way for many.

The surveys were commissioned by web application performance provider Gomez, Inc and taken by nearly 800 online shoppers over September and October 2006.

The surveys found that retailers especially risk disappointing online shoppers who spend over fifteen hundred dollars a year online, of whom almost 40% spend more than $100 per shopping session that ends in a transaction.

The problem, as I’ve stated on numerous occasions in the past, doesn’t so much lie with consumers demanding whizz bang shopping experiences, but the tendency of marketers and developers seeming to take an approach of “hmm.. most people are on broadband now, lets use every ounce of that bandwidth”.

There’s a few points to bear in mind

a) There are still healthy numbers of people on dialup connections and just because someone is on dialup doesn’t mean they don’t have cash to spend online.

b) Broadband comes in all different speeds – mainly from 256kbps a sec to 1500kbps. That’s a huge variation in capacity

c) Even if someone has a 1500kbps connection, or even just 256kbps, it doesn’t mean it’s running at that speed all the time. ISPs are notorious for slowdowns. Many people are not getting the speed they pay for.

d) While people may have been somewhat tolerant of waiting 30 seconds for a page to load a few years ago, they certainly aren’t now. Most people get a broadband connection for *speed*.

e) People multi-task – while your page is loading, they may also be watching streaming video, listening to streaming radio etc. which also takes up bandwidth.

It’s wonderful that broadband has allowed for marketers, developers and designers to let their imaginations run wild but the new breed perhaps doesn’t really understand we left narrowband behind for a reason – and it wasn’t just so we could watch movies on YouTube :). People want to surf the web – fast.

Shoppers are busy people, we need to respect their time – and annoyed browsers don’t convert to well to buyers :).

Pick up some tips on optimizing page load times.

Read more of the Gomez survey


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