Christmas time has come, and with it the potential of big deals. For as we all know, internet traffic peaks in christmas season. All those monetary gifts and refunds from reindeer socks need reinvestment after all.
So, if the twelfth day of christmas only brought you 12% of visitors after your entry page, you might wonder what went wrong on the first day. Next year, to save you from tears, you might want to work on a special factor to lower your bounce rate: page load speed.
The shopping aisle
Image your website as part of a christmas shopping aisle. There are fir tree branches, bright lights, and the warm scent of gingerbread in the air. The rich atmosphere draws customers in buying mood, looking at the displays, looking for something that will make them happy, and you, potentially, when they’re looking at yours.
If only it wasn’t for the automated door that opens erratically and ever so slowly. The longer it takes for that door to open, the more likely customers will walk on – they literally bounce off that door! – and seek what they’re after elsewhere. It’s time to act.
Bounce rate and page load time
Over the years, several studies have shown the impact of page load time on the bounce rate of visitors to a website. Generally said, the longer it takes for a page to load the more likely visitors will abandon a website after this page.
The time a page takes to load starts at the request of the client to download the website from the server and ends when this downloaded data is fully rendered on the screen. Since this time span may vary from page to page, it is usually measured on average.
For close inspection, let’s have a look at two of the studies, one from akamai.com, published this year, and the other from decibelinsight.com, published in 2016. Although following a different approach, both studies come to similar conclusions
2 seconds more and bounce rate doubled
By gathering and analyzing a „month’s worth of […] data“ from their own customers, Akamai concluded that an ideal page load time of 700ms to 1.2 seconds led to a minimum bounce rate between 13.1% and 14.2% across all devices. When they were only adding 1 second to this load time, bounce rate increased by up to 50%. When 2 seconds were added, bounce rate increased by up to a shocking 103%!
55% of slow loaders bounce off
Decibel Insight’s approach focussed on the observation of two websites, one e-commerce, one travel, and divided their visitors into fast loaders, for whom it took 4 seconds on average to load the page, medium loaders with a load time of 4 to 8 seconds, and slow loaders (more than 8 seconds). Slowing of page load speed saw bounce rate nearly doubling for the e-commerce site, from 32% of fast loaders to 55% of slow loaders.
The impact of bounce rate
To demonstrate just how devastating this increase can be for your business, a study by gomez.com, released in 2010, showed that a decrease of bounce rate by only 1% came along with 50% more page views and 33% longer page visits in general for the observed website – which led to significant increases in both conversion rate and order value.
Increasing page load speed
Now, what can be done to accelerate the page load time of your website, or, to stay in the picture, to make that door open faster? Of course, there are several issues outside your area of influence, like user bandwidth or choice of browser. But let’s address some of the fields you actually can control:
1. Reduce requests
2. Cut code
This is obvious, but simply put: the smaller the size of your website the faster the time it can be loaded. Therefore, keep your output neat and tidy. Get rid of the clutter that accumulates during development: reduce functions to their essence, ditch css duplicates, and minify the code afterwards, so that no unnecessary whitespaces – invisible to the user anyway – remain.
3. Downsize downloads
Images and videos of high resolution and quality are a must-have on the modern market. As written above, don’t import them from outside sources, since that makes those sources a reliability. Only refer to them, when you really need them, and keep condensed versions at hand for thumbnails, previews, and mobile devices.
4. Reform rendering
When a browser requests a website, it figures out how to deal with all the requests within, when to download what and in which order, when to execute scripts and render the content. By structuring all header elements, and keeping a balance between file requests and embedded code, browsers can be assisted during this process.
Let wao.io do the job for you
Increasing page load speed requires time, manpower, and expertise. It is a continuous process, and it will need to happen anytime you insert new content, anytime you install a new plugin, anytime you update anything on your website. Leave your developers to what they can do best: creating new content and features for your website. Leave all matters web performance to the specialists at wao.io.
wao.io was designed to relieve website owners of everything related to web performance. At the same time, wao.io does not interfere in the production process. It is an intermediary between website and user, taking your output and implementing the features mentioned above, and many more, before dispatching it to the user, also offering security and analytics features.
Head over to wao.io and see how much faster it can make your website! This will actively lower your bounce rate and lead to much more satisfied visitors much more likely turning into customers.
Back at the shopping aisle
With the smell of gingerbread still lingering in the air, you close your store for this christmas. After phoning that service, the door works fine now, and they even gave you advice on rearranging your store for customer convenience. Next christmas, you won’t lose any more customers due to that issue, you conclude, and open the card the service left for you. It reads:
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from all wao.io members of staff
-  „The State of Online Retail Performance, Spring 2017“ (pdf, 2017) by akamai.com, p4.
-  ibid., p10.
-  „The Impact of Load Time on User Behavior across Devices“ (pdf, 2016) by decibelinsight.com, p4.
-  ibid., p6.
-  „Why Web Performance Matters“ (pdf, 2010) by gomez.com, p4.
- Featured Image CC BY-SA 2.0 David Porter on Flickr