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Carl Maeda

Carl Maeda CEO

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Are you losing customers because your website is too slow?

I read Anthony Levine’s article on “Dealership Site Speed” and was compelled to write this article because we did extensive research into website speed when we developed our Responsive website platform and we had some surprising results.

Most people don’t think too much about speed when they choose a website vendor.   After all, when sales people present their websites, it looks fast because the website is likely pre-loaded.  Your website speed is critically important to the success of your online marketing.  A slow website can make it seem like your website has problems or is down.  Even more important is your speed on a mobile device.  People using a mobile device expect a faster experience on a slower connection and a less powerful device.  According to a survey*, most mobile users will abandon a page if it takes more than 6 to 10 seconds to load.  That same survey found only 20% of mobile users would wait more than 20 seconds for a web page to load.

On top of that, I predict (as many others do) Google will raise the ranking factor of speed specifically for mobile.  Therefore, not only will website speed help users navigate your site but it may become a bigger ranking factor in the future.

During the development of our responsive website platform, we wanted to get a benchmark on how fast other websites were so went on webpagetest.org** and took a small sampling of responsive websites and tested their speed.  Eventually, we also tested Adaptive websites as well.  The results really surprised us.   Here is a summary of our speed tests:

AVERAGE

 

 

 

 

Page Size

          First Load

      Repeat Load

Responsive-Wordpress

5,287.33

31.72

6.05

Responsive

3,509.38

21.86

4.95

Adaptive

1,204.73

10.04

3.79

       

HIGHES

 

 

 

 

Page Size

          First Load

      Repeat Load

Responsive-Wordpress

12,700.00

62.20

8.48

Responsive

8,138.00

44.77

10.10

Adaptive

3,807.00

24.92

8.83

       

LOWES

 

 

 

 

Page Size

          First Load

      Repeat Load

Responsive-Wordpress

1,183.00

15.19

3.79

Responsive

1,406.00

11.97

1.82

Adaptive

124.00

2.96

0.56

       

We simulated a mobile device during these tests.  We looked at First Load times (those are in seconds).

On average, responsive websites took 30 seconds to fully load.  That is really far from the 6 to 10 seconds it takes for a user to abandon your sites on mobile.  Some sites did load in about 10 seconds and when we analyzed the data, we found that Wordpress-based websites were far, far slower than the rest.  Many of the sites were taking 45 seconds or longer to load and that was throwing off our averages.  We ran the test several times to confirm our results. 

We segmented out Wordpress sites next and on average, a non-Wordpress site loaded in 18 seconds.  A Wordpress-based site loaded on average in 43 seconds! 

There were outliers that threw off averages.  On the Wordpress-side, one company’s sites did load much faster than all other Wordpress-based sites.  Their sites loaded in 17 seconds.

There were some non-Wordpress based sites that were even faster.  Many clocked in right around 11 seconds with a few outliers that clocked in around 25 to 30 seconds per page load.

Adaptive sites were much, much faster.  Some loaded in as little as 3 seconds but adaptive sites did have a big advantage.  The faster ones were loading virtually no third party add-ons.

Why are the sites slow?

There were three big offenders with slow sites.  The first was the image size.  Many sites used one very large image for their main images.  Instead of loading a small image on a small screen, they were loading huge images even on a small screen.

The second was code bloat.  This was very apparent on many Wordpress sites because whoever coded the site used different off-the-shelf Wordpress plugins that used different versions of entire code bases.  All the extra javascript code slows down the browser and causes the website to appear slow, especially on mobile where the device is less powerful.

The last offender were third party plugins.  Many third party plugins do not load asynchronously, which means that when a browser loads the page, when it gets to the third party plugin, the entire website is paused while the plugin is being downloaded and ran.

Is your website fast?

We use webpagetest.org to figure out how fast our websites are.  We leave the default settings as is and make the following changes:

  • Location: Los Angeles, CA
  • Emulate Mobile browser
  • Browser: Chrome
  • Connection: 3GFast
  • We ran the test 5 times and took the median fully loaded run for our statistics.

 

You should aim to be under 10 seconds.  If you’re not, figure out why.  It could be due to a third party script or an image required by compliance.  Another good tool is Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool at:

https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/

Take a look at their recommendations but realize that no matter what you do, you may not pass every test they have.  Several third party widgets will be counted against you because they don’t load asynchronously and they may not use compression and minify. Some images, such as ones provided by OEMs and other third parties, may be counted against you too since they may not be optimized for the size of the screen.

 

 

* KISSmetrics Load time study: https://blog.kissmetrics.com/loading-time/?wide=1

** The test on webpagetest.org had the following settings:

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Emulate Mobile browser

Browser: Chrome

Connection: 3GFast

We ran the test 5 times and took the median fully loaded run for our statistics.

 

mark rask
This is very helpful info....testing our site now
Carl Maeda
Thank you Mark. I just looked at your site and its' an Adaptive site so it is likely pretty fast. We provide SEO and Paid Search/PPC services for dealers that don't have our website and the quest for speed began when we noticed that many of these responsive sites that were our clients had extremely high exit/bounce rates specifically on mobile. For a few PPC clients, the exit rate decreased significantly after we built a microsite to sent the traffic to. We did a lot of testing and found that speed was a significant factor in the bounce rate. Some responsive sites also didn't work well at all on a small screen too.
Jason Stum
Great stuff here Carl, thanks for sharing it! Just added webpagetest.org to my big list of useful websites. Also thought I'd add that you can also get some page speed data on your websites from Google Analytics by going to Behavior --> Site Speed
Carl Maeda
Jason, that's a good suggestion. That is an easy way to see your site speed if you have Analytics access to the site. You'll want to use a Segment to see only your Mobile traffic. Thank you!

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