Mobile users don’t like to be frustrated by user experiences and websites that aren’t optimized for mobile. But a “mobile-friendly” website is table stakes (Google is even incorporating mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal on April 21). Mobile-friendly will only get you so far.
After creating a responsive version of their website, many organizations will sit back in satisfaction, considering their work done. They shouldn’t, and neither should you.
You should prioritize web performance (aka page speed) ahead of any other factor of your mobile website experience. Statistically speaking, here’s why:
- Slow pages are the number one issue mobile users complain about.
- 75 percent of users will leave a site that takes longer than 5 seconds to load.
- The average download time for a full web page is 11 seconds on an iPhone 5s over 4G LTE.
- 85 percent of mobile users expect pages to load as fast or faster than they load on a desktop.
- 38 percent of users have cursed at, screamed at, or thrown their phones when pages are slow to load.
These are not pretty statistics. But investing six figures in a responsive web design – only to see your bounce rate skyrocket and your conversions nosedive – isn’t pretty, either.
Here is the impact of a one-second delay on your web engagement metrics:
- 7 percent decrease in conversions
- 11 percent decrease in page views
- 8 percent increase in bounce rate
- 16 percent decrease in customer satisfaction
But even with these very compelling data points to make the case for improving mobile website performance, most mobile websites continue to fall short.
Many organizations have a very skin-deep view of their mobile website experience. They labor under the delusion that users care most about how the site looks, and so long as the site is a responsive design, users will be happy.
Buy your mobile experience is about much more than just how your website looks on a mobile device. It’s also about how it functions, and a critically important aspect of your mobile web experience is speed.
Simply put, when your web pages download quickly, your users are happy.
When your web pages are slow, users get frustrated, and start to think bad things about your brand.
Let me give you an example.
Researchers performed a study where users were divided into two groups, and asked to complete a series of tasks on the mobile version of the Tesco website. Users in both groups saw exactly the same web pages, and were asked to complete exactly the same tasks.
The only difference between the test cases was that one group interacted with a version of the site that had been slowed down 500 milliseconds. The test was blind, so users did not know they were seeing a “slow” version of the site. The differences that this half-second delay made were profound.
Exit interviews were performed with all users, and the words associated with the Tesco website shifted from mainly “easy-to-use,” to a range of negative associations. Users who had to endure the extra half-second delay used three times as many negative adjectives, including “slow,” “tacky,” “inelegant,” “clunky,” “boring” and “hard to navigate.”
Normal conditions 500ms delay
This echoes research from Jakob Nielsen, who found
“Slowness (or speed) makes such an impact that it can become one of the brand values customers associate with a site.”
65 percent of users say their opinion of a brand was affected by their online experience. Do you want “slow,” “inelegant,” and “clunky” associated with your brand?
Increasingly, it’s a mobile-first world. But, you must have an eye on the entire user experience, rather than just how your site looks on a mobile device. Your users are discerning, and how quickly your pages load on a mobile device has a big impact on how your users view your brand, and how much they will be willing to interact and spend with you. In 2015, expect to see the brands that get mobile web performance right steal market share from organizations that neglect it.