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Patience Is Not a Digital VirtueWhy Site Performance Is Key

By Elevate

October 25, 2016

Design Technology

It’s been said that patience is a virtue, but it isn’t one that many of us have. In fact, rather than patiently waiting for a site to load, 57% of users abandon pages that don’t load within three seconds. In this post, I’ll explore the importance of a lightweight, high-performing site to get your site in shape for the big leagues.

What Are the Benefits of a Fast-Performing Site?

Users have a short attention span. According to a 2015 study, the average human’s attention span has dropped from 12 to 8.25 seconds. That’s nearly a full second less than that of a goldfish or Dory from Finding Nemo.

Fast sites build trust and stability. In 2011, the digital team for the Obama campaign was tasked with optimizing the fundraising process on the site. The goal was to streamline the process for users, so that even during high-traffic periods, it was a seamless and quick experience to help users donate. The resulting optimization created a more beautiful experience for the user, proving that building a fast site does not always mean going without eye-catching images.

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The Obama Campaign’s fundraising page before optimization.
Obama fundraising post optimization orig
The Obama Campaign’s fundraising page after optimization.

High-performing sites are positively memorable. It’s important to deliver core content quickly because a user’s perception of performance is arguably more important than the actual performance. The exact time measured to load a site holds little value for a user because load time is all about their perception. The user’s mind helps decide whether a website is fast through their current situation (ie. their mood, level of urgency, time of day, location, distraction level, etc.). Understanding this allows designers and developers to use techniques to manipulate the user’s perception of a faster site.

Be energy efficient. Berkeley Lab found in a study that it takes 70 billion kilowatt hours a year to run the internet. Updating your IT infrastructure to use modern green” servers will not only use less energy (and less cost), those modern machines can run your site faster, improving performance all around.

Why Does Performance Matter?

  • Smartphone usage continues to grow and more users are depending on mobile devices as their primary browsing device.
  • A leaner and faster site means your site is accessible to a larger audience, including those across the globe who depend on mobile devices with slower connections as their only means to access the web.
  • When performance is good for users, it is good for business.
  • Lastly, users really hate this.

In the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing a multipart series detailing cutting-edge methods for improving site performance and what it means to a marketer’s bottom line.

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