Speed isn’t everything – a life lesson most are taught pretty early on in their upbringing. However, there are certain instances, scenarios and industry areas where this happens to be quite to the contrary – one of which being that of the online business.
Now, to suggest that the speed at which a website operates represents the be all and end all would be a little far-fetched – there’s much more to the puzzle than speed alone. But at the same time, the world has entered an era in which the consumer public is, as a whole, no longer willing to put up with anything other than spectacularly fast and fluid website operation, which unless provided is largely guaranteed to have would-be clients heading for the hills.
The Importance of Speed in Numbers
In order to really drive home the importance of low page loading times and generally fast site operation, it makes sense to look at some of the latest statistics on the subject. Leading web marketing authorities the world over are constantly conducting surveys and studies on what doesn’t win over the consumer public, which in the case of recent examples has highlighted some pretty consistent trends.
- Around three-quarters of all web users today say that they’ve come across at least one website that they refused to go any further with because it was too slow.
- Half of all mobile Internet users have been unable to do what it is they wanted to do online because the website they were using crashed or froze.
- Almost 40% of web users have tried to access a website only to find that it was unavailable at the time.
- When a website takes more than three seconds to load, at least 40% of visitors will leave without waiting.
- For every 1 second of additional time is takes for pages to load, conversion rates plummet an alarming 7%.
- Each year, website downtime costs businesses across the West billions in lost revenues.
Striking the Balance
So the message illustrated by the above points is pretty clear – speed matters and is guaranteed to play a huge role in your business for the long-term. But in terms of ensuring that your site does indeed measure up to the mark when it comes to loading times, it can be tricky to nail the right balance of content richness in accordance with keeping load times to a minimum.
These days, the old ‘less is more’ cliché rings true more than ever before. Why? Well, quite simply because most web users are frantically bombarded each and every day with every imaginable flashy visual and garnish to such a point that it all gets a bit on the tedious side. By contrast, sites that approach things with a more minimalist angle tend to curry much more favour with their target audience members.
In the case of a retail website for example, it’s worth bearing in mind that the overwhelming majority of first-time customers heading your way will to a large extent already know exactly what they want. It’s rare for anyone to hit the web just to buy ‘some clothes’ but enormously common for a buyer to set out looking for a ‘black dress in size 10’. Your job is to help them find it quickly, easily and without undue fuss – simple sites with fast page loading times always hit the nail on the head.
While there’s certainly a lot any business can do to minimise page and site loading times, the site’s functionality and consistency will always come down to the hosting service provider and package chosen. If, for example, you decide to cut corners and choose an almost-free package with severely limited bandwidth, you can’t expect your site to function adequately during peak times. What’s more, to choose a lower-end service provider is to run the risk of damaging downtime and service outages without warning and on a regular basis. And while slow loading times can do your site a disservice, downtime can be nothing short of fatal.
Choosing a hosting package is about far more than just finding a price you like and going for it. These days, it’s pretty unheard of for a strong hosting provider not to offer a 99.9% uptime guarantee and all manner of safeguards against performance hiccups. It will always be your site’s content that speaks volumes about who you are, what you do and why you are the brand to side with, but in terms of getting folk to read what you have to say in the first place, you need to deliver what they’re looking for…FAST!