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When Every Second Counts

Without a performance budget you risk losing a majority of your customers before they even reach your website.

Kris Jeary

Published: 30th October 2015

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How often do you find yourself giving up because a website takes too long to load?

When commissioning a website, you often tend to think of what your website is going to cost you. It’s understandable, after all, it’s an expense that needs to be justified. Even though, by choosing a reputable and experienced company, your website will always make you more money than it will cost you.

A questions that doesn’t get asked quite as often but is just as important, is:

How much is your slow website costing you in lost customers?

The days when we know what dimensions or devices we design for are long gone—it was never quite true anyway. In today’s device-agnostic world we can’t predict the often hostile environments our customers are under. Poor 3G connection speeds, shoddy stability, high latency and sudden train tunnels can ha—

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Despite this, recent trends suggest web pages are still growing in size with an increase of 15% from September 2014 to September 2015. The average web page today (Sept. 2015) is over 2 MB and requires 99 resources (images, fonts, etc.) to render.

Your website’s performance is important regardless of network speed but on mobile there’s the added concern of increased latency.

Latency is the wait between the cause and effect of some physical change in the system being observed. The average latency on 3G network is ~200 ms.

Now, a 200 ms latency might not sound like much but it quickly adds up.

To download these 99 resources you have to wait almost 20 seconds on an average 3G connection, simply for your network to get ready to download. After which you still need to wait for it to actually download each resource before your web page is rendered.

Chart depicting the amount of users abandoning a website that is too slow. After 20 seconds only 20 percent of users remain.
Fig. 1 Customer abandonment rate for page load times. Your customers are abandoning your website with every passing second it takes for it to render.

Studies (by Gomez and Akamai) show that 47% of customers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less. To make matters even worse, the same studies show that 40% of people will abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load.

After 20 seconds you’ve already lost 80% of your customers.

Having a fast-loading website is not a luxury you can afford to ignore. It’s mission critical for a successful website.

An ecommerce site that is making $100,000 per day, could potentially lose $2.5 million in sales every year, for a 1 second page delay.

Keeping more than 20% of your customers

Does this mean we should forgo all images and videos on websites?

Not necessarily, but we do need to be much more vigilant and ensure that everything has a purpose beyond, ‘looking pretty.’

Having visual elements, such as photography, are important for the impression you’re giving your sighted customers, especially when you’ve taken our advice and realised the importance of photography. But you should still ask yourself, ‘Does this justify its own presence by the value it brings to my business?’

If the answer is, ‘No,’ then you’ve already answered the follow-up question, ‘Should this image stay on the website?’

Perhaps you’re thinking, ‘We’ll make a m-dot subdomain with a slimmed down, trimmed and feature-stripped version of your desktop website.’

Unfortunately your customers expect the same breadth and depth of content and a consistent user experience, no matter what device they use. If you don’t deliver, you can be sure they’ll move on to someone who does.

And with search engines ranking websites on their performance and whether they’re mobile-friendly, your customers can easily find your competitors.


With today’s abundant choices of devices, but still unreliable network speeds and latencies, it’s critical to include a performance budget for your website to be successful.

Here’s some quick questions to ask when auditing your website and its pages today.

  • Is my page under 2 MB?
  • Does my page require less than 99 resources to render?
  • Is my page loading in less than 10 seconds on 3G?

If you’re already getting, ‘Yes,’ on all three of these then you’re on your way to making sure your website is fast enough.

But what is fast enough?

A reputable and experienced company will audit your competitors, analysing their data footprint and make sure your website, outperforms theirs.

Because without a performance budget, you risk losing 80% of your customers before they even reach your website’s content.

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