BBC News Online has an interesting item on the attitudes people have to how long it takes a website to load. In a survey commissioned by Akamai in the United States the opinions of 1058 net shoppers was sought. In the sample 75% of those surveyed would not return to a website that took longer than four seconds to load. Interestingly previous surveys had suggested that people would tolerate a site load time of 8 seconds.
It is interesting to see that among those who have been shopping online (spending more than £788 a year) around half of them list page-loading time as a priority. Perhaps the most worrying aspect is that one-third of those who encountered slow sites, difficult checkout processes or the site was simply hard to navigate just abandoned the website.
This increase in expectations may simply be a reflection of more people having faster connections at home. Sometimes retailers see the rise in broadband speeds as a chance to add more features to a site, but the research shows that if this slows things down to a dial-up type experience then a new site may be waste of money.
While broadband providers aren't the largest online retailers, many do have small hardware shops and most support an online sign-up mechanism. So ensuring that this process is fast and easy to understand is very important, though the ease of use must be balanced against hiding key facts about a product several clicks away or among pages of legal jargon that for the terms and conditions.
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