10 years ago the average length of time it took to load a webpage was about eight seconds. In 2016 the average is closer to five seconds. That’s a whole three seconds faster, but how fast does a website have to be to have the best chance at increasing conversions, i.e. converting website visitors into customers? Numerous studies have discovered that the time it takes to load a webpage has a significant impact on web conversion marketing. Amazon discovered that for every one second, conversions drop by 7%. Another study conducted in the U.S. found that four in 10 people will abandon mobile shopping sites if they do not load in within three seconds! The issue is even more significant on mobile devices, as mobile users have internet quotas and battery life to take into consideration and have become notoriously impatient!

So how slow is too slow? Obviously the faster the better, if we take Google as an authoritative source, they claim to optimise their websites to load in under 500 milliseconds where possible.

“2 seconds is the threshold for e-commerce website acceptability. At Google, we aim for under a half second.” - Maile Ohye (Google Developer Programs Tech Lead)

So the answer appears to be 2 seconds at the most!

We have made a small list of things you can do to make your own site faster:

  1. Choose a fast, high quality local server.
    If your server is located overseas, server communication is going to have a much higher latency.
  2. Minify and combine JavaScript and CSS files.
    By minifying your files you are reducing their total size, and by combining them you reduce the number of requests to your server.
  3. Resize and compress images.
    Reduce the size of your images to fit their locations on your site. Unnecessarily large images increase the total size of your pages. Also properly compressing images can drastically reduce their sizes.
  4. If doing all this sounds too complex you can use a tool such as Google’s PageSpeed Module.

How We Improved Our Speed

Using Google’s PageSpeed Module, we ran some experiments on some of our existing websites in an attempt to drastically cut back on the total time it was taking for these sites to load. Some of these sites are heavily laden with images, nevertheless with the PageSpeed Module we were able to cut the load time to under a second for most of the sites!

Before

Before

After

After

The following site had a large amount of images (≈2MB)!

Before

Before

After

After

For the nerds

The module performs a number of operations dynamically to the site on the web server to make it faster. This includes compressing the images, combining JavaScript and CSS as well as removing any unnecessary whitespace et al.

References

https://moz.com/learn/seo/page-speed
https://moz.com/ugc/why-site-speed-optimisation-should-be-part-of-your-seo-strategy
http://www.fastcompany.com/1825005/how-one-second-could-cost-amazon-16-billion-sales
https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2010/04/using-site-speed-in-web-search-ranking.html