The attention span of users has become so low, that there are considerable resources deployed by websites around the world towards a single end goal – that of improving page load times. It was back in 2010 itself that Google started incorporating page load times into their ranking algorithms. Google found that users spent more time browsing the websites that loaded faster, and this was beneficial to the provider as well, as it ended up reducing operating costs.
In 2014, smartphones took over PCs as the primary sources of all global internet traffic. The smartphone users had even shorter attention spans than the PC users. For the web developers the problem was aggravated because of the range of conditions under which consumers expected to experience the internet, especially those browsing it through spotty 2G connections. In 2017, Google started tracking page load sites on smartphones closely, and started releasing the data to the public. Google analytics showed that if a page takes longer than 3 seconds to load, 53 percent of mobile users will simply leave the site. Google studied a number of pages across sectors, and found that automotive, retail and technology sectors were the slowest to load. Since 2017, page load times on smartphones had decreased by 7 seconds on average, but it was still 15 seconds, which was disastrous considering over half the users simply bounced after 3 seconds. Google has recommended a number of best practices for loading web pages. While lower is better, the entire page has to load on smartphones within 3 seconds, with the first byte loading within 1.3 seconds. The page should have less than 50 pieces of content (images, scripts etc) with a total size that is less than 500 KB.
Amazon is actually one of the biggest success stories when it comes to user experience. This is because their focus is on speed and ease of navigation, not exactly the aesthetics of the presentation. Users of all ages intuitively know where to go, and how to shop. A study by Amazon showed that every 100 milliseconds of increased load time, leads to a 1 percent decrease in revenue, which translates to a loss of about $1.6 billion a year. According to a study by Microsoft, a 2 second delay in page load time to a business website, resulted in a 4.3 percent loss in revenue per visitor. An Aberdeen study showed that a 100 millisecond delay affects conversion rates by 7 percent. For a site that makes $100,000 every day, that translates to a $2.5 million yearly loss. A study by Gomez showed that an average shopper expects the page to load in two seconds or less. According to a study by Akamai, a two second delay increases bounce rate by 103 percent. The data also showed that mobile users were the most impatient, while tablet users were the most patient. Ash Kulkarni, senior vice president and general manager, Web Experience Division at Akamai explains, “Customers have extremely short attention spans, and degradations in website performance – no matter how small – can cause consumers to go elsewhere in an instant.”