Slow sites murder your conversion rate

A national clothes retailer recently came to us because its e-commerce sales plummeted after a website redesign. The site had plenty of holes in its design and architecture (and every hole leaks potential sales), but one of the site’s biggest problems was epic page load times.

We’ve said this before, but it’s worth stating again: if your site is slow, you are killing your conversion rate. Here are some customer behaviors to consider:

47% of online shoppers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds.

40% of shoppers will abandon a retail or travel site within 3 seconds.

Akamai and Forrester Consulting published this research way way waaaaaayyyyyy back in 2009. E-commerce has come a long way, as have internet speeds. Expectations are likely even higher now than they were in 2009. Also, while the research was specific for e-commerce sites, we’ve observed the same trends in B2B sites, as well.

Key takeaway: Think of your visitors like petulant children: if they don’t get what they want immediately, they cry and stomp their feet. Actually, that’s a terrible analogy. If your visitors don’t get what they want immediately, they just go away. Like dinosaurs.

Check your site’s speed with Google’s free (for now) PageSpeed Insights tool. (Just in case you weren’t convinced that site speed is a top priority, it’s also a factor that search engines use to set your organic search ranking.) Google also gives you tips for improving site speed, ranked by priority and ease of implementation.

Finally, here are some more details from the 2009 Akamai and Forrester study. Even though the study tested e-commerce conversions only, the visitor behaviors are relevant for other business models: when your page loads slowly, a visitor loses interest and leaves your site to find another solution.


Still reading? For a great presentation on the topic, plus lots of random Twilight photos, check out the presentation by Jonathon Colman, principle experience architect at REI.

2 comments on “Slow sites murder your conversion rate

  1. We’ve found similar statistics in the mobile web realm, i.e. when people use their smartphones to browse heavy desktop websites, the page load times become horrible (10-30s) and abandonment rates soar. Like 70-85%.

    1. Interesting! We haven’t looked at this directly in mobile, but we’ve seen the effects (very high bounce rates for phone users on sites without a mobile-specific microsite or landing page). It’s a great argument for hiring a top mobile firm 🙂

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