How many seconds does it take for your website to load?

As many marketers and site owners are discovering, website speed is critically important. A survey conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Akamai revealed that:

  • Users expect a web page to load in 2 seconds
  • 40% of shoppers will wait up to 3 seconds before abandoning a shopping or travel website
  • 79% of web shoppers who experience a “dissatisfying visit” are less likely to buy from the site again

It should be noted that this survey was from 2009, practically a century ago in Internet terms. As people become increasingly Internet savvy, it is not unreasonable to assume that consumers have become even more demanding of website performance. Closing an unresponsive browser window is trivially easy (unlike leaving a physical store).

While average Internet speeds may be going up, not everyone has access to ultra-fast web connectivity. At the same time, the proliferation of interactive site elements and embedded media (images, videos, audio) means that it is more important than ever to keep track of web site speed and size.

We were curious about the state of things today.

To benchmark key metrics related to page speed, we analyzed the Alexa Top 50 Shopping sites with the help of Pingdom’s Website Speed Test.

The averages for the top E-Commerce sites were:

  • Load time (average): 2.73 seconds
  • Page size (average): 3.06 MB
  • # of Requests (average): 221.1
  • # JavaScript Requests (average):  47.2

As tested on Saturday Nov 25 7:00 AM PST, pinged from the San Jose server. Three of the 50 were excluded from the summary stats due to blocked requests from Pingdom’s servers.

And now for some Top 3’s in each category:

The fastest homepages (by load time):

  1. B&H Photo Video (0.76 sec)
  2. (0.99 sec)
  3. Google Shopping (0.99 sec)

The slowest homepages:

  1. Oxford University Press (4.77 sec)
  2. (4.5 sec)
  3. (4.42 sec)

The largest homepages (by file size):

  1. (7.5 MB)
  2. (7.1 MB)
  3. H&M (6.5 MB)

The smallest (lightest?) homepages:

  1. Autotrader (0.7 MB)
  2. Overstock (1 MB)
  3. Wiley (1 MB)

Homepages with the most JavaScript:

  1. Kohl’s (173 JS requests)
  2. Macy’s (104 JS requests)
  3. (102 JS requests)

Homepages with the least JavaScript:

  1. Oxford University Press (1 JS request)
  2. Google Shopping (4 JS requests)
  3. Netflix (6 JS requests)

Note: we singled out JavaScript requests (as opposed to all requests) as these are typically instances of code fired by analytics, advertising, and e-commerce technologies. Commonly known as “pixels,” these third-party information collecting methods often contribute to slow load times. Tracker count is a rough, yet useful, way to size up whether a website owner is prioritizing site speed (and user experience).

Of the 48 websites used in our calculations, only 16 loaded in under 2 seconds. In other words, 67% of top E-Commerce websites took longer than 2 seconds to load (when accessed from a San Jose, CA server). Given how important site speed is to an online shopper’s browsing experience, this is a worrying statistic.

It is no coincidence that our 5-step process for marketing optimization begins with “Optimize User Experience.” The visitor’s experience on-site must be as smooth and pleasant as possible. This is the key to keeping bounce rate low (the % of visitors who leave after seeing only one page). In our opinion, it is inefficient–and wasteful of marketing budget–to send paid traffic to a site that hasn’t been optimized for UX.

A classic example to illustrate this point:

  • Your conversion rate (for new site visitors) is 1% (of ~1,000 new visitors/month, 10 purchase a widget)
  • To increase sales by 20%, you can either attract ~200 more visitors/month or increase CVR to 1.20%

Which seems easier? Sure, adding 200 more visitors could be achieved through paid traffic. However, ensuring that the conversion rate (CVR) is as high as possible will pay off tremendously in the long run.

TL;DR: if you’re selling anything online, make sure your site loads as fast as possible. Check your page load times often, from multiple locations and different devices (e.g. desktop, tablet, phone). See our Resources page for some useful links.

You can download the full dataset here (Excel file).