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25th January 2012

E-commerce Site Speeds Lag Behind User Expectations

StrangeloopThe average e-commerce website takes 10 seconds to load, web pages are getting bigger, and Internet Explorer 9 outperforms other browsers. These were the findings of the 2012 Annual State of the Union: E-Commerce Page Speed and Website Performance study, the second annual report published by site acceleration solution provider Strangeloop Networks.

“Site speed is a constantly moving target,” said Jonathan Bixby, CEO, Strangeloop Networks. “We’re always hearing numbers from one-off reports, but trying to compare these reports is an apples-and-oranges exercise. Our goal in conducting these annual surveys is to establish a baseline across a large set of sites, then measure these sites every year and revisit that baseline. By doing this, we can identify changes and trends that will be useful to site owners and the web performance community at large.”

The survey used WebPagetest – a third-party tool that measures page load times from a real user’s perspective – to test each site’s home page via the WebPagetest server in Dulles, VA, as the site would appear to a visitor using the following browsers on DSL: Internet Explorer 7, Internet Explorer 9, Firefox 7, and Chrome.

The report reveals seven key findings, including:

  • The average site is 10% faster now than it was one year ago. While this is encouraging, it is far from the ideal load time of 2 seconds, as identified by decades of research into human-computer interaction. Research has found that 57% of site visitors will abandon a page after waiting 3 seconds for it to load.
  • Top-ranked sites are slower, not faster, than the rest of the pack. The primary reason: bigger pages containing more objects (files such as images, CSS, and JavaScript).
  • Web pages are getting bigger, year after year. The average home page contains 98 page objects, a 13% increase from last year. In 1995, the average page contained just 2.3 objects.
  • Internet Explorer 9 outperformed other browsers. Pages loaded 4-5% faster in IE9 than they did in Firefox and Chrome.

“The question everyone should be asking is: what do these findings mean for me and my site?” said Bixby. “The key takeaway here is that the pursuit of faster websites is a neverending race. As pages continue to grow in size and complexity, many site owners are barely managing to stay ahead. Newer browsers help somewhat – as does using a content delivery network to cache your content closer to your visitors – but only somewhat. Site owners who want to do more than keep their heads above water need to expand their acceleration toolkit.”

This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 25th, 2012 at 9:54 am and is filed under Business News, Digital Products, National News, Research Studies. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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