The Impact of the Page Load Speed on User Experience

Mar 01, 2020, WebGazer Team

E-commerce vendors and online publishers need to make the best user experience (UX) to maintain the engagement of their clients whenever they visit the website. But this feat can't be achieved without breakneck loading speeds and improved performance.

Also, quick page loading times are one of the essential parts of the digital experience today. Having excellent features and the best content is worthless if your webpages take are very sluggish. However, most people still ignore this critical aspect of performance.

The Downside of Having Slow Loading Speeds

Making a robust user experience is vital to create and maintain relevance in a highly competitive market. So, a slow UX usually cause these problems:

1. A Decrease in Conversion Rates

Almost 47% of customers want webpages to complete loading under two seconds or faster. Also, 40% of consumers will leave a webpage that needs more than three seconds to finish loading [3]. So, if your website takes upwards of three seconds for it to completely load, approximately one-half of your visitors will be lost. Considering only this factor, it can cause significant damage to your income or business.

The general user experience influences your customers’ opinion of the website's brand. In a recent study, Akamai has found that almost 75% of online buyers who go through page rendering failures or experience a complicated checkout system will leave or won't revisit the site (Forbes, Web Performance is User Experience). So, page speed has turned into a crucial factor in making or breaking your brand credibility.

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2. Lower Return Rates

New research done by Google determined a decline in activity by customers who experienced slow or failed page loading speeds (Akamai, Performance Matters, Key Consumer Insights). For instance, people who encountered lag lasting up to 400-milliseconds made 0.44% fewer queries throughout three weeks into the study. In addition, they did 0.76% less searches after another three weeks (Namogoo, The Connection Between Page Load Speeds and User Experience).

The trend is also true for critical errors such as crashing and freezing. So, it can cause unfavorable effects on the general user experience and customer satisfaction of your website.

3. Reduction in Search Engine Rankings

Google revealed page loading speeds as a consideration in search results ranking back in 2010. But mobile performance is also a factor that affects results according to the search giant's new rules (July 2018 onwards). So, sites with quick page loading times are placed at a higher rank on the results page. Also, it's the mobile speed difference between iOS, and Android phones vary significantly.

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5 Ways to Improve User Experience

You can follow several techniques to improve and transform your website to increase your income. However, you should remember five crucial things:

1. Keep an Eye on Your Third and Fourth-Party Tags and Scripts

Today’s sites are a sophisticated mix of code. There are some that you can create while some scripts or tags come from third-party vendors. So, a lot of code from external sources is performing tasks on your website at any given time.

The majority of third-party service code varies every day, every week, or every month because of either upgrades or repairs. Also, there are likely hundreds of third-party code changes that can probably affect the performance metrics of your site right now.

Also, the dependencies that are made through fourth-party tags are an essential factor in applying third-party tags. These are "hidden" fourth-party links that can cause a significant effect on the performance metrics and page loading speeds of your site. So, lacking a good overview of the services that you use can severely impede the user experience of your website.

Performing the right monitoring procedures gives you the capacity to have control and address issues with performance to the right vendors.

2. Minimize HTTP Requests

According to Yahoo, about 80% of the loading times of websites are mostly taken up by downloading elements such as stylesheets, images, and scripts. Also, an HTTP request is performed for every single element. So, with more on-page components on your site, it will take for the webpage to render completely. The first step in solving this is to lessen the number of requests.

Once you know the exact number of requests your site is performing, you can focus on decreasing the wait times through minifying (the elimination of excessive structuring, code, and whitespace) and merging JavaScript, HTML, and CSS files. Also, this procedure significantly decreases the size of the data, which is a guaranteed way to increase the site’s performance.

3. Use Asynchronous Loading

If your scripts load simultaneously, they render according to the order of their appearance on the webpage. On the other hand, if your scripts are loaded asynchronously, only some of them will load at the same time. So, asynchronously loading your files can accelerate your site's loading speed because it goes from top to bottom.

You can also opt to make use of a process called deferring technique. By using it, you’ll have the ability to exclude large files from loading simultaneously until the rest of the specified elements have loaded. Also, you can guarantee that the other parts of your content will load without problems.

4. On-Site Test Environment

You should incorporate an on-site test environment to mimic the high-demand and further challenging situations like when deploying new features on the site. You should also be prepared to host visitors from other countries as your website is on the Internet. Moreover, simulating several user profiles from different locations around the world should be prioritized. However, it is another measure that is often set aside.

5. Optimize for Mobile

The online businesses of today don't have an excuse to neglect the mobile aspect of the Internet anymore. Studies have shown that more people are doing their shopping online through their mobile devices. So, you should perform stress tests on your website on mobile devices. In addition, verifying the quality of the actual user experience is required. By simulating the geographical differences, different mobile carriers, and your customers’ behavior, you will have a complete picture of your site's real-world performance.