Is Your Mobile Site Too Slow?

doug sillars at&t networking exchangeDoug Sillars is a Sr. Product Development Engineer at AT&T. You can find more blog content from Doug and other experts on emerging technologies on the AT&T Networking Exchange Blog. AT&T has sponsored the following blog post.

AT&T Networking Exchange

Performance, Perception, And What Speed Really Means To Your Brand

We’ve all done it.  Clicked a link on our mobile device, but loading the link takes forever, we click back to the app we were using, and never go back.  Or, we’ve visited a webpage, but all of the links take too long to load, and you go on to your next task.  What happens when your site is slow?

A recent survey by SOASTA shows that it is more important for the site to always work (72%), be fast (62%), and perform as expected (53%) than it is for the site to be fun (38%).  Even more telling is that when your site is under-performing, 88% associate a negative feeling with your brand!  Obviously, performance is growing in importance for your mobile brand.

So we know how slow sites feel to us as an end user, and we know perceptions of the end user to slow sites.  How do we make sure that OUR customers do not behave this way with OUR content?

I think the first step is to understand what “forever” or “too long” means to users.  A review of website load times from 2004 shows that once you hit one second of load time, there is a perception of delay, but no effect on user habits.  If your site does not load before 10 seconds, you have lost the attention of your customers and they are not likely to continue (or return to your site).  So it appears that our goal is to hit 1 second (or really darn close) to load our site.

In addition improving the speed of your site, there is a perception of speed.  Steve Souders points out that making your page/app appear to load faster will keep users around for a longer time.  By adding progress bars, or spinners, you can keep your users engaged, and more forgiving of the long load time.

In conclusion, slow websites can cause your customers to curse (23%) or throw (4%) their phone.  Make sure that your mobile presence keeps your users engaged, and their screen in one piece.

Have you considered how long it takes your website to load? Have you taken steps to improve performance or the perception of speed?