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The three-second rule: is your website too slow?

More than half of consumers will abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to load, according to new research.

A report from online optimisation specialist Radware has found that 57% of users will give up on a website that takes more than three seconds to load. It means that many websites are failing the most basic test of usability: load time.

"Three seconds doesn't sound like much, but 57% of users will abandon a site that takes any longer," said Kent Alstad, VP of Acceleration at Radware
"That means lost sales and lost advertising revenue. Yet many site owners fail to optimise images, scripts, and HTML - even as these elements increase in number - leading to sluggish load times, site abandonment, and brand damage. These are prime opportunities for improving performance and attracting and retaining customers."

Radware's survey focused on the top 50 websites across four sectors - news, ecommerce, travel and sport. It found that loading times vary widely:

  • 80% of top travel sites take more than three seconds to load on a desktop;
  • 78% of top news sites exceed the three-second window;
  • All but three of the top sports websites take more than three seconds to load;
  • However, nearly half of the top shopping sites load in three seconds or less.

Radware decribed ecommerce as "the one bright spot in the study" with mean load time of 3.1 seconds.

Despite the rising popularity of mobile devices, desktops are still widely used to view websites and they also have a higher average ecommerce conversion rate according to Radware. Its research shows that, with an average ecommerce conversion rate of 2.71%, desktop sites outperform both tablets (2.51%) and smartphones (0.96%).

And yet, the report concludes, many organisations and businesses risk compromising the performance of the desktop versions of their websites because of poor optimisation. The full report can be downloaded and also includes web performance best practice.

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