The easy answer is “not as long as you think.” If poor web hosting has led to slow page load times for your customers, you’re losing them and your profits: It’s that simple. According to a recent study by Google, 400 milliseconds (how long it takes you to blink) is simply “too long” for most users to wait for a page to load. Such a small amount of time still leads to waiting and, according to engineer Arvind Jain, “Subconsciously, you don’t like to wait (so) every millisecond matters.” If you can actually count the seconds that a page waits to load, just imagine how much revenue you’re missing out on.
It’s no wonder that all types of tech companies are prioritizing speed, but the reality is that all that tech won’t do any good if your web host is subpar. You can be doing everything right, but if your web host is slowing you down your consumers are still going to blame you. People and their device are hungry for data, and digital traffic jams are a very real thing. Whoever’s the fastest is going to win, and a lot of that is within your control.
The reality of visits
Google notes that people won’t visit a website as often, or at all, if it’s slower than the competition. Just how much slower? The research shows that a difference of 250 milliseconds is enough to make users move on to another site. One computer scientist at Microsoft, Harry Shum, says, “Two hundred fifty milliseconds, either slower or faster, is close to the magic number now for competitive advantage on the Web.” Unfortunately, many site owners don’t even realize they’re not being competitive.
What your users expect are above and beyond what you can imagine, even if they don’t know if consciously. Plus, people are also more willing to wait for some things rather than others—for example, people are more patient waiting for a video than a web search. They think that a video naturally takes longer to load and are also probably more interested in seeing that specific clip.
Make it snappy (and make it rich)
In the battle between the richness of a website and the speed, it’s neck and neck. Web designers know they need to make attractive and rich websites, but a better looking website can slow down the speed. This is especially true with media outlets such as The Huffington Post or even BuzzFeed where interactive graphs and videos are par for the course.
Google reveals that 80 percent of users will happily click away from a video if it’s deemed “too long to load.” Demands are even high with mobile phones, which is a crucial aspect in a now mobile ready world. Google estimates that the average web page takes nine seconds to load on a mobile phone, but downloading on a PC is just about six seconds (on a global scale). In the US, it’s 3.5 seconds—unsurprisingly, the fastest search engines are the biggest such as Google and Bing.
Speeding up smartphones is obviously paramount for tech producers, and whoever gets the fastest approach will win. There are companies like Akamai Technologies who are focusing on delivering faster website via mobile accelerators and software just for apps. Even the US government is getting on the bandwagon, with Congress increasing mobile device network capacity via legislation that allows public airwaves to be auctioned off to Wi-Fi companies.
Speed is essential, but don’t forget about the basics. Maybe switching up your web host is an easier and much more cost effective solution than indulging in the latest tech add-ons.