Why you should check your page speed (urgently)

It’s no longer an option for your site to lag— you could be missing out on a chunk of business.
18 January 2019

Want to keep your customers engaged online? Work on your page speed. Source: Shutterstock

If you’re an SME with enough interest in technology to be reading this publication, it’s a reasonable assumption that your business has a website, but when was the last time you checked its page speed?

In an ever more competitive and digital marketplace, eye-catching branding, a smooth and intuitive user experience, and the ability to serve your customers the right information and functionality with ease are crucial.

All that effort (and expense), however, will be wasted if customers are abandoning your page before it’s even loaded.

That’s a concern highlighted in a new report by Unbounce which, based on a survey of 1150 customers and marketers in the US and Canada, finds the urgency of page speed to be the difference between getting customers onto your website and losing them to your competitors.

“Today, everyone online expects to buy products, browse content, and find answers to their questions with zero lag,” says Ryan Engley, VP, Product Marketing for Unbounce. “Unfortunately, as interactivity and media like video become more prevalent, the average web page size has increased, and so has the time that consumers have to wait for pages to load.”

According to Engley, the effect of page ‘lag’ is at its worst on mobile, where the average web page has doubled in size over the past three years. Insights from Google say consumers now wait an average of 15 seconds for a page to load.

“Slow pages create a terrible consumer experience and lead to fewer conversions for marketers,” says Engley.

Of course, Unbounce reminds us that the issue of page speed is nothing new. For the past decade, Google has been arguing that page speed matters, launching tools to allow companies to measure and improve website loading times.

The search giant has even made page speed a ranking factor on desktop and mobile and launched Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) in 2017, which sought to combat increasing user drop-off rates on mobile with lightning load times, by dramatically stripping back the size of web pages.

Fast forward to 2019, and ensuring speed is optimized may no longer be an option for companies online; consumers will now bounce from a loading page after just three seconds, while nearly 70 percent of consumers say that slow pages put them off buying online.

The negative effect of a slow-loading page can also be damaging for your long-term e-commerce strategy. Just shy of 37 percent of consumers are less likely to return to an online retailer if they experience slow-loading pages.

Despite those findings, and with three-quarters of marketers deeming page-speed improvements either somewhat or very urgent, just three percent of marketers said faster loading times were a top priority in 2019. That’s despite the huge chunks of business they could be missing.  

57 percent of marketers, meanwhile, have no current plans to implement Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). A quarter are still considering it.

“Businesses need to keep the visitor in mind— their anxiety, their impatience, their near-unlimited options on the web,” said Andy Crestodina, Co-Founder of Orbit Media. It’s also an important consideration if you’re aiming to reach audiences in less-developed countries with slower connections, and carries environmental benefits as a whole.

“Businesses share in the common responsibility to make the internet work properly — keeping things lightweight and fast is a big part of that,” Crestodina added.