The Business Impacts of Website Speed - and Ways to Accelerate
July 02, 2014

William Vuong

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Let's face it, people hate waiting in lines. Whether it's a line of traffic for a toll booth on the highway, a line at the grocery store, or the never-ending lines at retail stores during the holiday season, people will do almost anything to avoid them.

And guess what? People hate waiting for slow loading websites as much they hate waiting in line. They will not hesitate to abandon a site, if it isn't performing up to their speed standards. For this reason, B2C and B2B web entities alike must not underestimate the importance of website speed.

Let's take a look at some of the impacts that website load-times can have on business and take into consideration some possible options to accelerate website speed.

What Are Some of the Business-Impacts of a Fast (or Slow) Loading Website?

Page Abandonment Reduction
Slow website load time is one of the primary contributors to page abandonment; every millisecond counts. A report from KISSmetrics indicates web-users will not hesitate to abandon a page if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. The same statistics also indicate nearly half (47%) of users expect a page to load in 2 seconds or less. Judging by these stats, it's safe to assume that website load time of 2 seconds or less will keep end users satisfied.

Increased Conversions and Higher Sales
It's no secret that leveraging today's web is a crucial element in driving sales. In fact, BIA Kelsey shows us that nearly all of today's consumers (97%) use online media when researching products or services in their area. According to the same KISSmetrics report, a mere 1 second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions. What does this mean? If an e-commerce site is making $200,000 per day, a 1 second delay could result in $5 million in lost sales per year! Keeping website speeds on par with the consumer expectations (nearly all of which surf the web before or during purchases) increases conversions and ultimately generate greater revenue.

Satisfied Users
Businesses often leverage a variety of customer loyalty programs to keep their patrons happy and coming back. Like special offers and loyalty reward programs, website speed is also essential to improving customer retention. 79% of online shoppers that are dissatisfied with web performance are less likely to buy from that site again and more than half (52%) rate quick page loading as a key component to site loyalty.

Online consumers are not shy about sharing their experiences and 44% will not hesitate to share a bad online experience. Keeping your users satisfied is as simple as maintaining a speedy, high-quality website.

Considerations for Accelerating Website Speed

Speed Testing Tools
While lowered sales and a loss of customers could be a telltale sign that your site isn't meeting customer expectations, there are other preventative actions that can be taken. One such action is looking to leverage website speed testing tools. The web is filled with simple speed tests, comprehensive tests with simulated traffic from around the globe, and multiple-site tests for head-to-head comparisons. Often times, these sites will not only diagnose the issues, but they will also offer some suggestions on how to fix areas that may be attributing to a clunky site.

Image Caching
Businesses with an online presence, especially those that rely on online sales as the primary revenue driver, need to separate their sites from the pack. One way they do this is by creating visually appealing sites composed of rich quality images. While these sites are aesthetically pleasing, they can negatively impact website speed, as delivering large images files across the internet can be cumbersome to the server. One way to image heavy websites is by caching, which allows the images on the site to be saved by a browser or proxy. Once the image is cached, the browser or proxy can refer to the locally cached copy rather than having to download it each time a visit is made to the page. Reducing this request load will speed up the delivery of the site, enabling a much faster load time.

Content Delivery Networks (CDNs)
High traffic websites that cater to globally disbursed end users can often put a toll on web performance. Having to simultaneously deliver large volumes of web content to multiple regions throughout the globe will drastically slow down the delivery rate and increase load time significantly. CDNs provide web entities with a global cloud network to streamline and accelerate the delivery of web content anywhere in the world. Common services/solutions offered by CDNs include caching, dynamic acceleration, whole site acceleration, DNS optimization, and security.

Final Thoughts

While the benefits and solutions to increasing website speed mentioned in this post are not in great depth, it should have provided a clear understanding on the importance of fast loading website and its correlations with a good end user experience. Whether in the physical world online, no one likes to wait and they are even less patient and tolerant online.

William Vuong is Marketing Communications Manager at CDNetworks.

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