Does Your Website Really Load Fast Enough?

May 11, 2006

When I was at Jared Spool’s UIE Roadshow, Christine Perfetti talked about sites that load quickly vs. those that load slowly. They found that the user perceives a site as loading quickly if she finds what she needs.

Having said that, if your site loads too slowly, the visitor will never have a chance to find out. I know you are reading this and saying, sure sure, I know this already — but do you really?

Today is Thursday and Mother’s Day is Sunday. So my sister called me from Florida and we looked together (in a figurative sort of way) at every jewelry site in the country where our mother lives (we figured, if we buy it there, she might actually get it in time…) Since we were doing this by cell phone and during the work day, we just wanted to find a great pair of earrings for less than $300 in under an hour.

We must have looked at every problem a website could possibly have (including a site that had the most gorgeous product but no contact information or order information at all.) But the worst problems were the sites that loaded so slowly it was painful (and I have a fiber optic connection, so the wait is never at my end. I write about my fios connection so much, Verizon should pay me for the commercials. But I digress.) The worst were the sites that loaded slowly and then still didn’t have the information easily accessable (or in plain view. Or a search box.) So I guess I need to point out that Christine was right about this one – waiting and then not finding what you want is painful.

I used to pretend to be sympathetic when customers showed me their flash intros, as I gently tried to persuade them that the intro is so 1999. But after today, I have no sympathy. It has to load fast and show the visitor what they want. Really.