How Page Speed Can Boost (Or Bust) Your User Experience

Page speed and SEO

There is a strange misconception amongst business owners these days. Many people believe that their website must have tons of bells and whistles, because consumers will immediately fall in love and want to spend their money. Right? Well, no… not exactly. In fact, a study by Hubspot suggests that 80% of users think a cutting-edge interactive experience or a beautiful design is not the most important part of a website experience.

While lots of interactivity and functionality is great, it can be a detriment to your user experience if not implemented properly. The reason for this: Page speed.

Page Speed Affects User Experience

In a classic study, Google asked users if they would rather see 10 or 30 results per search page. Of course many users said they would like to see more, so Google started showing 30 results on select searches. This decreased page load time by about a half a second, which in turn caused page traffic to plummet by twenty percent. But why is this?

Users want to assert a level of control over the websites they use. Fast page speed gives users a feeling of direct control over the page. They tell it to do something, it responds quickly and without hesitation.

Slow page speed hinders users from completing the goals that they (and you) want to accomplish. They are now waiting on the website, instead of the website waiting on them. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

Research done by Econsultancy found that forty-seven percent of users expect a website to load to a useable state within two seconds. Furthermore, a whopping 88 percent of users stated a negative experience due to page load time made them less likely to return to the slow website and more than a third will tell their friends and family about the poor experience.

Page Speed Also Impacts Search Results

Looking past the on-site experience, search providers also use page speed as a ranking factor in search results. Since search engines are in the business of providing the best possible user experience, they try to minimize the number of users they send to slow websites.

Kissmetrics conducted a study that suggests one in five users will abandon a mobile website if it doesn’t load within five seconds. One in three will jump ship on a mobile site if page load time is greater than ten seconds.

As mobile web usage grows, #pagespeed is becoming increasingly important. #SEO Click To Tweet

Ever since 2010 page speed has been climbing the totem pole of ranking factors. In 2014 Google launched the ‘Mobile-friendly’ label on mobile search results. This is another attempt by search engines to provide the most pleasing user experience—and page speed is a big factor.

How To Test Your Page Speed

Testing page speed is the first step in understanding if you have a speed issue and how to fix the problem.

Two of the most effective options for testing page speed are Google PageSpeed Insights and Pingdom. Plug in your domain and these tools will generate a number on a 100-point scale to show how you stack up to other sites that have been tested. Additionally, you will be provided with some insights about how to fix any issues that may be slowing your website down.

Google Analytics also collects data about page load times. Under the Behaviors tab there is a section called Site Speed, which contains a goldmine of data regarding how quickly or slowing your pages are loading.

These tools can be a great starting point for understanding and optimizing your site for speed. Taking a deep dive into the code behind your website can provide many opportunities for improving site speed as well. If you are unsure of how to do this or would like assistance, our free business review can help.

Has your business been affected page load times, be it good or bad? Leave your experience in the comments.

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