How Slow is Too Slow in 2016?

John Stevens By John Stevens  |  Feb. 12, 2016

Have you checked your website’s speed lately?

In a study conducted by Geoff Kenyon way back in 2011, he determined these standards for comparing your website speed against the rest of the Web:

  • if your site loads in 5 seconds it is faster than approximately 25% of the web;
  • if your site loads in 2.9 seconds it is faster than approximately 50% of the web;
  • if your site loads in 1.7 seconds it is faster than approximately 75% of the web;
  • if your site loads in 0.8 seconds it is faster than approximately 94% of the web.

Five years later you can bet these numbers are conservative in the extreme!

Most of the time, priorities are set on different aspects of digital marketing such as social media marketing, search engine optimization, and content marketing. Of course, what’s left out of the equation is page speed optimization. You may have a great website with good content and superb functionality, but how’s the quality of your traffic going? Milliseconds do matter in optimizing your website.

Have you asked yourself, “I do have a lot of visitors, but why aren’t they converting?”


Minimum speed

The golden question is: how fast should my website load in 2016?

In Google’s Site Performance for Webmasters video, Maile Ohye, states that “2 seconds is the threshold for e-commerce website acceptability. At Google, we aim for under a half second.”

A half second (0.5 seconds) is equal to 500 milliseconds (ms), the literal blink of an eye is 300 to 400 ms.

The answer to our question is: from 500 milliseconds to 2 seconds at most.

Website speed checker tool called Pingdom has collated statistics of websites that have used their tool in the past year:

  • Average load time: 5 seconds;
  • Average page size: 3Mb;
  • Average number of images: 42;
  • Average number of JavaScripts: 21;
  • Average number of http requests: 89.

What these stats show is that most sites on the Web (or at least most sites that checked out Pingdom’s service) are not yet fully optimized for site speed. Most of these sites were too slow five years ago, in 2016 they’re more than 250% too slow.

Remember, Amazon has discovered that for every one second delay, conversions dropped by 7%. If you sell $100k per day, that’s an annual loss of $2.5m. Walmart has found that it gains 1% revenue increase for every 100ms of improvement.

These giants have upped their game by just optimizing their websites for speed. It’s not just their products, nor their brand authority ⎯ by being considerate of people’s dwindling patience, they have made their customers happy with a good, fast website.


Reality bites

There are a number of simple tactics you can adopt to improve the speed of your site:

Select a good hosting deal

Opting for cheap hosting services will yield you cheap results. You simply get what you pay for. Choosing a good hosting company will make the difference; you can get better support, better speed, and better space to meet your site’s demands. This 2016, you can find hundreds of website hosting companies offering a good service, but there are only a few that truly provide what your individual site needs. Consider searching for a web hosting company that has been tested by many; you will find numerous web hosting reviews and complaints that can guide you. Don’t just jump on the bandwagon and choose the first site you see advertised.

Value UX

In creating a website, don’t be satisfied with applying touches that appeal to your taste. A webpage loads different elements at different times during the fetching-catching phase. If your business calls for more visual imagery than text, value user experience by optimizing your images to appropriate sizes, categorizing them into sections so loading the page will be easier. It’s been said that keeping it simple will be enough, but simplicity depends on what you’re trying to provide for the audience. Web designers are expected to work hand in hand with developers and the client; with good, clear communication, optimization won’t take long if it’s one of the priorities in building or rebranding a website. Use this opportunity to get ideas on how users interact with your website, and analyze their actions accordingly⎯figure out how to incorporate your analysis into your design.

Save every millisecond you can

There are numerous ways in increasing your site speed. For example, large websites may benefit from using a CDN (Content Delivery Network) for speed improvements. Here’s a quick guide from Web Designer Depot for optimizing your site for speed.

Study and understand these concepts

For designers and developers, understanding this concept aside from SEO is also important. It’s as important as maintaining user interface and user experience alike. Use Google Page Insights to check your site. If you’re not experienced in dealing with code, consult a web developer who can assist you in optimizing your site.


Recommended tools

I personally recommend these tools; it’s not an exhaustive list but these get the job done:

  • Google Page Insights: Google’s personal tool in checking page speed performance. It has a score range that checks your website’s compliance, whether mobile or desktop view.
  • Pingdom: perhaps the classiest tool among the list. Your site is counter-checked against all websites they have tested.
  • GTmetrix: gives you actionable insights on how to optimize your page speed.
  • WebPageTest: enables testing on various platforms using realistic data.