"In our shared pursuit to push the web to do more, we're running into a common problem: performance," writes Web performance consultant, Jeremy Wagner, in a column for Google.
"Sites have more features than ever before. So much so, that many sites now struggle to achieve a high level of performance across a variety of network conditions and devices.... Performance [or call it speed] plays a major role in the success of any online venture."
A survey from Unbounce found that 27% of people are only willing to wait up to three seconds for a site to load on their phone, 32% are willing to wait up to six seconds, and only 24% are willing to wait longer than six seconds.
Welcome to our got-to-have-it-now world.
It also reinforces the fact that little things can mean a lot when it comes to engagement. When Pro Farmer asked their audience if they would recommend the company to others, they included an open text opportunity to get more information—specifically what might be most valuable and what might be lacking.
"Our survey resulted in multiple concerns from text responses about user log-ins and passwords to the websites," Joe May, Pro Farmer's marketing manager, said in a webinar earlier this year that will also be given in a live PreCon workshop at our Business Information & Media Summit (BIMS) Nov. 11-13 in Hollywood, Fla.
"So what we did was proactively remind our users the basics—how to reset their password; how to set their browser to remember their credentials so they don't have to enter it every single time," May said. "That's a simple action that we probably all take for granted, but for our audience... [let's just say that] 50 years old is considered a young farmer." What does an easy log-in equate to? Speed.
There's a reason that fast food and Amazon same-day delivery flourish; we hate waiting, be it at a traffic light, the DMV, in a restaurant or loading a website.
"Website visitors tend to care more about speed than all the bells and whistles we want to add to our websites," said digital marketing and SEO expert Neil Patel. "Additionally, page loading time is becoming a more important factor when it comes to search engine rankings. [And] it's not just your search engine rankings. Your site's speed can contribute to the rise and fall of your conversion rate."
Wagner wrote that performance is a foundational aspect of good user experiences. "When sites ship a lot of code, browsers must use megabytes of the user's data plan in order to download the code. Mobile devices have limited CPU power and memory. They often get overwhelmed with what we might consider a small amount of unoptimized code. This creates poor performance which leads to unresponsiveness.
"Knowing what we know about human behavior, users will only tolerate low performing applications for so long before abandoning them. If you want to know more about how to assess your site's performance and find opportunities for improvement, check out How to Think About Speed Tools.
In that article, three myths are exploded:
Myth 1 - User experience can be captured with a single metric. Good user experience is composed of a series of key milestones in your users' journey. Understand the different metrics and track the ones that are important to your users' experience.
Myth 2 - User experience can be captured with a single "representative user." Real-world performance is highly variable due to differences in users' devices, network connections, and other factors. Test different variables.
Myth 3 - My website loads fast for me, so it should load fast for my users. "The devices and networks that developers test load performance on are often much faster than what your users actually experience. Use field data to understand what devices and networks your users are on and appropriately mirror those conditions when you test performance."
Above all, try to understand your customer's journey.
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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…