No matter how you look at it, the following thing will never, never be a good thing for your conversions: long page loading times. Why is this thing special? Well, it ain’t that easy to track it using the usual web analytics software, so most people tend to neglect it.
Watching Websites published a couple of days ago “a proof that speeding websites improves conversions” and not only. Their research is very interesting especially cause it shows the impact of optimization of page loading times on different metrics. I found Bounce Rate to be the most interesting, as I’ve seen many times people leaving websites because it took long times for them to fully load.
I totally confirm the findings of the guys from Watching Websites. With the page loading optimization process we’ve worked with, I’ve seen improvements in conversion rates between 0.4% and 1%. Translated in revenue, the best results we’ve got was an increase of up to 10 000 $.
How to tackle it?
For a starter, fast loading pages never hurt anyone. There is no excuse for not having a really well optimized website from the point of view of loading times. UX Booth has a great (technical) tutorial that I recommend you to forward it to your developers and make it a priority. Basically, this is what they suggest to do:
- Test to see what are your loading times at this moment
- Make sure there are as little server calls as possible. Put all images in one and use the sprite method in order not to influence in any way the user experience
- Make sure all graphical elements are optimized for the web.
All of the above details are thoroughly explained by UX Booth. In their case they improved the loading times of their website by 3 times. (decreasing the weight of the page from 1350kB to 450 kB)
Server Loading Times
Then you need to look into server side loading times. If your website gets loads of traffic it can affect pretty much the rate at which is capable of serving content. For this, at our company we use alerts. Whenever the server loading times go higher than a certain acceptable level, we fire an email which lets us know that we have issues.
I don’t know about you, but I just won’t let something as basic as page loading times affect the conversion rate for any website I’ll ever work with.